For those who do not know, Jose Rizal is one of the most important historical figures in the country where I was born (The Philippines). I have started to become a great fan of his life back in my university days when we had this subject, Rizal’s Life and Works. He led a very interesting and illustrious life during the latter part of the Spanish Occupation (1565 – 1898). He was a medical doctor, an artist (he made sculptures), a writer (his works ignited the revolution against Spain), spoke several languages (Filipino, Spanish, French, German, probably even Czech) and was an indefatigable traveller.
When I was living in France back in 2011, I started a project and decided to visit all the places that Jose Rizal visited. I have been to Madrid, Paris and Biarritz. To continue this tradition this year, I decided to visit the small town of Litoměřice, an hours’ drive outside of Prague. This is where Jose Rizal lived in the 1880’s.
Litoměřice is a very small town. Most of the sites of interest are around the town square which is called, “Peace Center”. From there, you can park your car and then head straightaway to the Tourist Information Center. You can get a map of the town there and ask them how to reach the places that you would like to visit. Also, they offer visitors to go on top of their tower for a 360-degree view of the whole town. The viewing tower is 300 years old. You have to climb a series of wooden, rickety stairs to reach it. The viewing deck is a tiny cupola made of wood, which sways with the wind. It was a bit scary.
A few meters away from the Tourist Information Center, you will find the Salva Guarda Hotel, where they have Jose Rizal’s bust at the entrance. Behind the hotel, there is a park dedicated to Jose Rizal. It’s a small park with a few benches where you can have a sit and enjoy the view. I can easily imagine Rizal sitting on one of the benches and contemplating life. It’s difficult to describe this feeling of connection that I have with him that just overwhelms me every time I visit a place that once held a special meaning to him.
I find it funny, though, that I always seem to prefer to be a fan of the dead than the living. Probably because they have already led a perfect life and can do no mistake anymore. As in Rizal’s case, he died at the very young age of 35. If he was still living today, what would he be saying on Twitter? What would he be posting on Instagram, or Facebook?.. I doubt I would still be a fan as he seems to be the type who would flood your feed with depressing political posts and hackneyed philosophical quotes, and has a tendency to become histrionic, though I’d probably fall in-love with his Instagram photos. But he is dead and there was no Twitter back in his days… fortunately for him.
We walked around the small town all throughout the day. We had a nice lunch at one of the restaurants in the square (Radnicni sklipek). I had chicken served on top of some grain that looked like quinoa. It was quite good. And the restaurant was lovely. It rained a little bit after lunch, so we decided to buy an umbrella at a store across the restaurant. Later we realized that this was the hotel (Hotel Krebs) where Jose Rizal stayed.
We walked around the town a little bit more and found a Baroque church that has been abandoned and turned into an art gallery. I had a great time taking pictures to my heart’s content inside. I have never been able to wander up and around so freely inside an ancient European church before. I even managed to climb up on the pulpit! It was awesome.
We also tried to find Blumetritt’s house, but it does not exist anymore. We just decided to visit his tomb in the cemetery. It was very easy to find because there is a map at the cemetery’s gate. He is listed as no.1 among the most important people buried there.
Visit my Youtube Channel for more of my Litoměřice trip. Thanks for reading, and have a good weekend.