13. Burgher houses in the square (No. 7, 9, 13, 18, 34, 35, 37, 39, 40, 43, 44, 45)

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The long square in Vimperk slopes down steeply from the west to the east, with minimum reminiscences of most of the town’s eventful past. Its present shape was sketched with a fiery brush in 1904, when a catastrophic blaze devoured nearly half of the houses and damaged most of the others above ground level. Gone were the Renaissance, Baroque and even older facades, and the whole square was quickly rebuilt between 1904 and 1905, largely in the Art Nouveau style, with elements of older styles imitated in the 19th century. This sweeping reconstruction made Vimperk an interesting object for the popular TV documentary about mock-historical architecture “Wonderful Towns”, but the authentic architectural heritage was irretrievably diminished, and the present shape of the houses in the square creates a peculiar mismatch with its mediaeval layout.

The mediaeval square, which originated as the high street, is situated on a rocky promontory. It slopes down steeply and the streets running through it led to two town gates, The Upper and the Lower. The houses in the square have Gothic foundations and stand on their original sites. They used to have cellars on the ground floor and residential space on the first floor. In some houses, e.g. 8/43, 10/40 or 13/13, the original halls have been preserved, with cross vaults, as well as stone jambs of the portals. An example of the external decoration dating from before the great fire can be seen on the newly-restored No. 7 in the south-eastern corner of the square; the right-hand side has a Baroque finish, while the left-hand side is painted with bright colours in the Renaissance style. The largely Art Nouveau houses include some remarkable specimens of the style, e.g. No. 38, No. 20, No. 15 with a an interesting articulated gable, or the stylistically pure No 14.