A walking tour of Znojmo takes about 2 to 3 hours. Begin at Masaryk Square, where the Art House (Dum umení; tel. 515-226-529) holds a small collection of coins, plus temporary exhibitions. It is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm. Admission is 20Kc. The southern end of the square is one of the few historic areas that hasn't been maintained well; the dilapidated Capuchin Monastery (Kapucínský kláster) and Church of St. John the Baptist show few signs that they were once focal points of the town.
Impossible to miss is the Town Hall Tower (tel. 515-216-297), the only remaining piece of what was once referred to as Moravia's prettiest town hall. The actual town hall met misfortune during World War II, but the late-Gothic 70m-high (230-ft.) tower still stands guard. For 25Kc, you can climb up to the lookout, which offers a picturesque view of the castle and the Dyje River. Try not to let the nondescript department store that occupies the spot where the town hall once stood wreck the picture. The tower is open May to September, Monday to Friday 9am to 1pm and 2 to 6pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am to 1pm and 2 to 5pm; April, Monday to Friday from 9am to 1pm and 2 to 6pm, Saturday 9am to 1pm; and October to March, Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm, Saturday 9am to noon.
Follow the small alleyway called Kramárská to Slepicí trh (the former Hen Market) to find the entrance to the Znojemské podzemí (Znojmo Underground) where almost 30km (19 miles) of tunnels used to store everything from pickles to munitions. If there's a tour just leaving or a few people waiting, arrange to join them, since the tours (which are in Czech only, though English-language pamphlets are provided) are given only to groups of more than six. Admission is 50Kc adults, 30Kc students. The Underground is open May, June and September, daily 9am to 4pm; April, Monday to Saturday 10am to 4pm; July and August, daily 9am to 8pm; and October, Saturday only, 10am to 4pm. For reservations call tel. 515-221-342.
Head back 1 block west to Zelenárská ulice and follow it away from the square to Malá Mikulásská ulice, which leads to the Gothic St. Nicholas Church and behind it the bi-level St. Wenceslas Chapel. The church is supposed to be open only for services and the occasional concert, but check the door just in case.
Farther on, you'll come to the 11th-century Rotunda sv. Kateriny, one of the oldest and best examples of Romanesque architecture still standing in the Czech Republic. Inside are painstakingly restored frescoes of the Premyslid rulers dating back to the mid-12th century.
At the edge of the embankment lies Znojmo Castle, which now houses the Jihomoravské Muzeum (South Moravian Museum) exhibition (tel. 515-222-311). It focuses on the role of Znojmo through the ages, especially as a lookout against the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Admission is 45Kc adults, 25Kc students; if you take the tour, note that both sights are included in the tour price. Open May to September Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 5pm, and in April Saturday and Sunday 9am to 5pm.
The Painted Cellar of the Satov Vineyard
Wine, art, and history aficionados unite! The Painted Cellar of Satov, one of the region's most prolific vineyards, awaits. But this isn't an ordinary tour of a vineyard or just a historic place -- it's both.
The town of Satov lies just before the Austrian border, about 10km (6 miles) south of Znojmo. So close is Satov to the border that it was once part of Austria. The town and its surrounding vineyards have long produced some of the country's finest Moravian wines. The excellent soil conditions and Continental climate make it perfectly suited for grapes.
You'll find several cellars here (most of them associated with the Znovín winery), and during late autumn Moravian hospitality opens the doors to just about anyone who knocks, but few cellars can rival the splendor of the painted cellar.
The cellar was most likely carved out in the late 19th century for reasons still a mystery today, but it took its current form when a one-armed man named Max Appeltauer descended into the tunnels and began his work there in 1934. As you enter the cellar and go down about 18m (59 ft.), a musty odor envelops you and you wonder how Appeltauer could have spent so much time here. But as you look around the 20m (66-ft.) tunnel, you'll be thankful he did. Not an artist by trade, Appeltauer set to carving and then painting into the sandstone walls an eclectic set of scenes portraying everything from Prague Castle to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, as well as the Satov coat of arms. Running off the main tunnel are five smaller rooms, each depicting a separate theme and carved and painted in painstaking detail.
It's almost as though Appeltauer was expecting to escape one day to his residence inside the cellar, celebrating his departure from life aboveground. Indeed, celebrating had already taken place inside the dark cellar, as the inscription VÍNO, ZENY A ZPEV, ZAHLADÍ VESKERÝ HNEV ("Wine, women, and song will remove all anger") indicates. Legend has it that the cellar was once a popular place for the village men to idle away the hours and even entertain their lady friends from time to time. Wives searching for their husbands would enter, sending the girls scurrying into the subcellar. Local lore has it that Hitler visited the cellar when inspecting the military bunkers set up to defend his southern flank.
Appeltauer left the cellar for good in 1968 and died 4 years later, never realizing his next dream -- to paint farther into the cellar. Some cans of paint and a few jars still sit idly by at the point where he stopped, untouched after nearly 40 years of waiting for his return.
The cellar tours are arranged by the Znovín winery (tel. 721-754-548; www.znovin.cz; daily 10am-6pm), located at the edge of the village next to the train station. Book your tour over the telephone or on the website. Admission is 25Kc, which includes a glass of wine. To get to Satov by car, take Highway 59 out of Znojmo to the south and turn right at the sign for Satov. Buses and trains also run to the village from Znojmo on a regular basis.
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.