Czech Republic: Mikulov

Here’s another town that is almost taken from the Lord of the Rings movie in its beauty – Mikulov. A 13th century medieval castle sits on top of the hill visible from the surrounding countryside for miles, then the tile-roofed houses spread concentrically around the castle. There is a beautiful square beneath the castle walls with another plague tower, it takes some steep climbing to just walk around the near-vertical town streets. Mikulov has a rather turbulent history – originally a Slavic settlement under a Bohemian king, it was later taken over by Germans and Slavs were forcefully resettled while the Germans were settled in. In the 19th century, Vienna expelled all its Jews, and thousands settled in Mikulov, a border town, making it the largest Jewish settlement in Bohemia. That was almost decimated in WWII, when over 90% died in Holocaust. With communism taking over after 1945, another ethnic experiment ensued as all the Germans were forced to leave Mikulov to once again making it a Slavic town on the edge of the Socialist sphere.