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The main square, námestí Krále Jirího z Podebrad, attracts most of the attention and is a good place to begin a stroll of the Old Town. Though it has been overrun with tourist shops and cafes that serve mediocre German fare, the square still shines with Gothic burgher houses and the baroque Old Town Hall (Stará radnice). At its south end, the statue of Kasna Roland, built in 1591 and a former symbol of capital punishment, reminds people of the strength wielded by justice. At the other end of the square stands the Kasna Herkules, a monument to the town's former strength and power. Next to it is a cluster of 11 timber houses, called Spalícek. These used to be owned by Jews in the early 14th century, but a fervently anti-Semitic clergy in the area incited such hatred that the Jews were forced up Zidská ulice (Jews St.) and into an alleyway called ulicka Zavrazdených (Murder Victim's Lane), where they were unceremoniously slaughtered in 1350.

Across from Spalícek is the Cheb Museum (tel. 354-422-246), where another murder took place almost 300 years later -- that of Albrecht von Wallenstein in 1634. On the upper level, a display vividly depicts the assassination. The museum's first floor displays many 20th-century paintings, from which you can trace the town's slow demise. Admission is 50Kc. From May through October, the museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 5pm, and from November through April, Wednesday to Sunday 9am to 5pm.

The Old Town is also packed with churches. The most interesting is St. Nicholas, around the corner from the museum. It's a hodgepodge of architectural styles: Its Romanesque heritage is reflected in the tower windows, while a Gothic portal and baroque interior round out the renovations over the years. The church is open daily from 9am to 6pm.

Touring Cheb Castle

An excellent example of Romanesque architecture in the northeast part of the Old Town is Cheb Castle. Overlooking the Elbe River, the castle, built in the late 12th century, is one of central Europe's largest Romanesque structures.

The castle's main draws are its Chapel of Sts. Erhart and Ursula and the Cerná vez (Black Tower). The two-tiered, early Gothic chapel has a somber first floor where the proletariat would congregate, while the emperor and his family went to the much cheerier and brighter second floor with its Gothic windows.

Across the courtyard from the chapel stands the Cerná vez (Black Tower). From its 18m-high (59-ft.) lookout, you'll have the best views of the town. The tower seems dusty and smeared with pollution; its color is black because the blocks from which it is made are lava rocks taken from the nearby Komorní Hurka volcano (now dormant).

There are no tours of the castle and the English text provided at the entrance does little to inform you. Admission is 50Kc. The castle and tower are open to the public from early April through October from Tuesday to Sunday 9am to 5pm.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.