Kafkadesk regularly dispatches its writers across Central Europe to bring you new ideas for your next trips and travels in the region. Last time, we went to Prešov, Slovakia.
This month, we’ve prepared something special for you: Štramberk, a small town located approximately 30 km from Ostrava, in Moravia, Czech Republic’s Eastern province.
Štramberk’s historical roots
There are many reasons to visit Štramberk. Dating back to the Medieval times, this small town was founded in 1359 by the son of Bohemia’s king John of Luxembourg (1322 – 1375), the Margrave of Moravia John Henri of Luxembourg. On December 4, 1359, he signed the decree officially acknowledging the town of Štramberk’s location and existence. Today, you can still find the ruins of the beautiful Strallenberg castle and the old Trúba tower. Reminders of the city’s historical roots, both sites are among the town’s most notable landmarks and can be seen from a long distance.
However, the first human settlements long preceded Medieval times. In 1880, professor K. J. Maška unearthed part of a Neanderthal child’s lower jawbone in the Šipka cave (Czech word for arrow), which quickly rose to become one of the most interesting archeological discoveries in the Czech Republic.
Štramberk is also famous for its iconic wooden buildings. Built since the 15th century, it reflects the influence of Wallachia. People living in Štramberk have created their own version of these wooden buildings, which can still be seen all over town. The oldest ones still standing date back to the beginning of the 19th century. Those constructions play an integral part in the city’s picturesque vibe and unique atmosphere.
Craving for something sweet?
There are still many more things to say about Štramberk. Besides what I’ve already mentioned, Štramberk is also famous for its peculiar ginger-bread. This candy has been baked for hundreds of years. But you haven’t heard the most interesting part: it’s baked in the shape of human ears. Now you’re probably asking yourself: “oh my god, why in the world…?!” A perfectly understandable reaction: pretty eerie, right? So, long story short…
Once upon a time came the warmongering armies of Mongolian and Tatar warriors. Their attempts to invade Europe brought them to Štramberk around the year 1241. When fighting against local armies, they cut their ears off and sent those cute memorabilia to their khan. In order never to forget this terrible episode of their past, the local population started to bake ear-shaped ginger-breads. It became so popular that some tourists are now coming to Štramberk specifically to try their delicious taste. You can eat them with cream, cocoa or fruits on top. A pretty tasteful way to face the darkest hours of one’s history, wouldn’t you say?
Bye, bye, butterfly…
If you don’t really have a sweet tooth, we may have something better for you. Štramberk is also famous for its incredibly diverse fauna. More specifically, there lives a butterfly which can almost only be found there: the jasoň červenooký (Apollo in English).
Štramberk – birthplace of art
Last but not least – Štramberk is the place where world-wide known Czech painter Zdeněk Burian lived as a child. Although he only stayed a couple of years, it had a very big impact on his artworks. You should definitely visit the Zdeněk Burian museum!
These are only the main highlights of this adorable town surrounded by the Beskyd Mountains. There are many more reasons to visit this place, but I have to let you discover some of them on your own. The thousands of tourists coming to Štramberk every year are a good proof of the city’s growing appeal (most of them say that they will come back as soon as possible).
So, what are you waiting for?
PS: Why do you think Štramberk is called the “Moravian Bethlehem”? Leave us your thoughts in the comment section below! If you’re close enough, we might give you the answer…