The Charm of Úštěk, The Czech Republic’s Smallest Heritage Site

Michael Švarc

The picturesque town of Úštěk, located in the northern Czech Republic, is home to around three thousand people. But don’t let its small size fool you; this town has been etched into the annals of history and has even captured the attention of Hollywood.

Úštěk, nestled a mere 20 kilometres from Litoměřice, is the smallest urban heritage site in the Czech Republic. A walk through its centre is like stepping back in time. Hand-painted signs adorn the facades of some houses, reminiscent of the First Republic era, offering a quaint and serene ambience.

Besides being rich in history, Úštěk has also played a significant role in the film world. Its scenic square with the church has served as the backdrop of several Czech films. Interestingly, it was also the location for the acclaimed film “Jojo Rabbit” by Taika Waititi, where Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson played one of the leading roles.

One of the town’s most unique features is the so-called “Bird Houses”. These wooden extensions with galleries were built against a rock wall in the first half of the 19th century due to space constraints, earning their name due to their resemblance to bird nests.

The town’s main square, Mírové náměstí, is a must-see for all visitors. Its gabled houses provide a glimpse into medieval city construction. In addition to the history and architecture, the town regularly hosts period markets, transforming the entire center into a vibrant marketplace.

In conclusion, Úštěk may be a small town, but its rich history, unique architecture, and captivating charm make it a destination worth visiting.