Photo Album

Photography of Ancestral Towns & Villages

Sadly, Standa won't be planning another photo tour anytime soon. For several years he had traveled to towns and villages for clients who could not be here themselves. During this time he photographed more than 680 towns and villages. Only a small portion of these were places that we consigned him to. The others were simply places he found interesting, and these will be featured in the months and years to come, as a tribute to Standa's love of his native land. These will be updated as time permits, and many of his photos will be featured in an annual cycle of seasonal images. High resolution copies (printed or digital) may be purchased upon request. Please Note: The images in this "Photo Album" are not those previously consigned by other clients. Click on images to enlarge


  1. Nature & Other Wonders
  2. Castles & Chateaus
  3. War Memorials
  4. Arts & Crafts
  5. People
  6. Events
  7. Grave Markers & Cemeteries
  8. Books & Films
  9. Churches & Religious Shrines


Nature & Other Wonders

Prague, like other capital cities of Europe, is well know for it's hundreds of man made spires and a veritable trove of architectural wonders. Not as well known, but perhaps equally impressive, is the inspiration for much of this, which can be found in various natural and man made landscapes, both the products of a magnificent God and an industrious people. Thus, this section of the "Photo Album" contains pictures on the theme "Nature & Other Wonders".

Velka Amerika - The Czech Republic's very own (man made) Grand Canyon Beronka River - The slow meandering river which cuts through the countryside West of Prague. Setting for the stories of Ota Pavel (How I came to Know Fish, and Death of Beautiful Deer)and home to Castles (Křivoklát and Karlštejn). Early 20th Century Hydro Electric on the Labe River. A truly ancient occupation, herding sheep in Slovakia. Loket - A poet's corner of Bohemia At rest in West Bohemia Luh at Branov - The remains of the day Near Mělník - A landscape full of surprises A robber's den - Kokořín - Enter a storied setting of enchantment and mystery Šarka - a fresh (cold!) water swimming hole in the Prague environs. A great place on a hot Summer day. Červene Klašter - Slovakia - where manmade meets majesty Springtime - on the road in Centralis Bohemia Crossing the Berounka River Near Bromouv, in the North, the hills near Aderšpach and Božina Němcová's youth. Prague Zoo is a wonder as well. Empty Streets of Prague...?

Castles & Chateaus

These are only a few samples of the extraordinary symbols of wealth and power that castles and chateaus represented. In times of war and peace, their functions differed, and most, if not all, have been reconstructed many times. Many have withstood the ebb and flow of prosperity and neglect, to stand the test of time. Some are more defiant than others, but each as a symbol of towering aspirations, and upon close examination, a window through which we can witness the passing of time and history.

Křivoklát - Hands down, one of the most impressive castles still standing from the 13th century. Rábí - The place where Žižka lost his second eye. Hluboka Castle - Not a bad place to spend St. Valentine's evening.  Orlík - Perhaps it does not impress as much as Hluboka or Krumlov, but this one is still in the family... Helfštejn in Moravia, far from the din.... Valtice - Remarkable for wine and the surrounding park. Manětín - An attractive chateau West of Prague Česky Šternberk on the River Sazava. A great place to send off the Winter (see Čarodejnice Tour). Still home to one of the oldest families in the Czech lands. A Castle immortalized by the Poet Goethe. Let us show you why, with a hike to Karlovy Vary. The Vineyards above Troja in Prague

War Memorials

There is much to learn from the monuments that can be found in just about every town and village in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. To begin, the names of an entire generation that fell on fields of battle, mostly far from home. As a tool for family history research, these can be useful to find death dates, and the names of male heirs that died. These monuments have helped on a number of occasions, when the family name no longer remained in a place, but their names could still be found on these monuments and in the cemeteries.

Punk is not dead in Stradonice Nižbor on the Berounka River. A monument to the soldiers who fell in both World Wars. Čila - Even small villages have monuments to the lost generations from WW I & II. Skryje - WW I & II memorial for those who had fallen, in a quiet park beside a pond. Hradiště - A quiet little village above the Berounka River. Domažlice - WW II Memorial to US Serviceman Matt Konop Aš - Memorial to US Servicemen who fell during the Liberation of Czechoslovakia during WW II Lidice - Memorial to the children who were murdered by the fascist Nazi regime in retaliation for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich. At Koči near Chrudim. In this case the monument was created by the local Sokol. It includes a picture of the house where Jan Svoboda had been born, and the battle where he fell.     Vlčnov at Uherský Brod. Many people visit this village for an annual festival, The Ride of the Kings, which is listed by UNESCO as a Heritage Event. This monument has photos of the soldiers printed on porcelain disks.  Chlum in the Rokycany District, along the Berounka River, has its memorial in a beautiful setting, with a bench for those who wish to pay their respects. Chlum in the Rokycany District, along the Berounka River. This memorial is also unique, as it lists those young men from this village who fell by the side they fought for. Here we found two Šafraneks, from the same house, who fought on different sides.

Arts & Crafts

If there is any truth to the expression, "a picture is worth a thousand words", then here is the evidence. Let these pictures speak for themselves about the masters who crafted such lasting expressions in stone, wood, mortar, clay, textile (lace), oil and ink. Indeed, if you visit just about any town, and wander through the cobbled alley ways, there is no telling what your camera will find, or what stories those images will later conjure... To the patient observer, and sincere searcher, a further reward awaits inside the many galleries, old book stores, and museums.

Ceramics as Therapy - what better way to find joy and meaning, then to fill the garden with Clowns & Flowers. You may be surprised at what you may come across in the country.... A well known icon - The Prazdroj Brana The Botanical Garden & Historic Village at Ostra. A must see for families traveling with children. Easily accessible from Prague by train. There's nothing quite like shopping in the small town Bazars Noah - A proverbial family history gallery An Old Moravian Mill converted to an Inn - Art & Craft galore! Kuks - Nine of the twelve vises by Matias Braun  Shopping in Prague Nowy Sancz Poland - It is not unusual to see people dressed traditionally. Reviving an old tradition - Marionette Theater in the country There is both an art and a craft to hunting mushrooms.  Lace and Historic textiles are as good as gold (or in Bohemia - Crystal). Demonstrating the historic craft of paper making. Brewing Beer fuels the true Czech favorite pastime. No visit to the Czech Republic is complete without visiting at least a pub.


People are everywhere. In case you haven't already noticed, it's not easy to find places where you won't see them. Although we are rather averse to crowds, there is never enough time in life to spend in the company of those people we call family and friends. One of my daughter's story books, "Lu and Swamp Ghost", makes the case that "you're not poor if you have family and at least one good friend". Thus, this page is dedicated to a few of the many people we are blessed to call our friends.

Randolph Stilson - The man behind the curtain... Librarian, archivist and genealogist, his role as teacher and patron cannot be overstated. Hasterman - Our renowned bicycle guide Tom & Marie - A rare moment at home together during the Summer. Hanka - Now on maternal leave (with a third child on the way), she had assisted as many families to discover lost relatives as any Pathfinder. Jan Pařez & Tom Zahn, working together since 1992 (not only in the archives...) The Children of Lidice - still living in our hearts, 
sadly no descendants will ever look for them Irena Novotna (nee Vesela) - teaching the world about dudy (Czech bagpipes) Eva & Valentina - Our first choice to hold down the fort in our absence... Richard Choleva - Ten years after guiding a wedding party through North East Slovakia (his birthplace) he continues to be a Pathfinder. Tereza - From Hradec Kralova, but in love with Moravia Very Important People - Marie and the girls... Marie at work, with patient, effective, and peaceful purpose. Truly the heart and soul of P.A.T.H. FINDERS...  Tom Zahn, Tomaš Biskup, Jan Pařez, at an all too infrequent meeting... Where's Marie? Kent Kasha - A friend who knows about beer and hockey Father's Day! Standa & Tom


For the moment this will be the final page in our Photo Album. In many ways it encompasses all the previous pages, since quite often Events Happen, wherever there are mysterious Castles, wonderous Nature, playful Art & Architecture, and lots of loving People. So here you will find, as the culmination of all the above, some of the Events we were fortunate to capture.

Standa's dream from his earliest memories was to visit New York. For both of us, this was the event of a lifetime... Quite extraordinary street music (from Dvořak to Dixieland) just outside the Castle gates. Seasonal Festivals that celebrate the history of particular places (in this case Křivoklat Castle) Veselá vs. Novotny - Traditional Wedding near Strakonice Celebrating Easter by going door to door... Children's Camp - Just how important it is to play Praha - Prčice - an annual trek hosted by the Czech Touristic Club (the folks that mark the trails). One trail departs from Milevsko, and follows the path of many emigrants to America  Praha - Prčice take two... Looking for relatives in Ukraine Zofia, Ukraine - Everything is now Illuminated Witch Burning - April 30th - Some pagan rituals still thrive. Romance is everywhere... Ota Pavel's Hike (June)- In honor of the writer who taught me how to know fishermen in Bohemia... A film in progress - Three Musketeers

Grave Markers & Cemeteries

Here we are posting just a few of the many markers that we have photographed. Whenever we travel to villages, we visit these cemetery. In some cases we have photographed the markers, for those who are not be able to visit themselves. It is an objective of most family history explorations, besides finding living family, visiting ancestral houses and parish churches, to also wander through the cemeteries where relatives were laid to rest. 

Teplice nad Metuji - The Czech border lands are strewn with villages, parish churches and cemeteries that had once been home to a sizable ethnic German population. After WWII the inhabitants were mostly expelled from their homes. We are touched by the porcelain photos, faces that have survived the test of time. These faces wait for their families to return and find them. Telice nad Metuji Teplice nad Metuji Teplice nad Metuji Teplice nad Metuji Albrechtice Albrechtice Albrechtice Albrechtice Vlachova Brezi - Jewish grave markers Narodní Hřbitov - Vyšehrad Prague Old Town Jewish Cemetery Franz Kafka's Grave - Prague New Town Olšanské Hřbitov Šafov Jewish Cemetery Moravia Šafov Jewish Cemetery Moravia Šafov Jewish Cemetery Moravia The Family Grave for Vaclav Havel. There are constantly lit candles, flowers and messages. The final resting place of Vaclav and Olga Have in Prague's Vinohrady Cemeteryl. Vinohrady Cemetery in Prague Budeč near Prague where the cemetery surrounds one of the oldest remaining churches in the country. The grave markers here are extraordinary.

Books & Films

There are some items from our library which we frequently recommend to visitors. If you are interested in Czech History, Heritage, Literature, or Film, we hope you will find something of interest here. Most of these can be bought elsewhere on line, while some were only published in limited numbers (mostly those concerning village histories). These help us to better understand this place we call home. It is an eclectic assortment of topics (i.e., religion, technology, architecture, politics, culture, poetry and art. For a more detailed description of a few of these titles, please visit the "Library" .

This is an example of one of many local histories in our collection. In the case of Čermna, it covers both Dolni and Horni. A number of its former inhabitants went in search of a new life in the Americas. This book is hard bound, glossy paper with B&W and color pictures, along with maps and detailed description of the history, in Czech language. Brno's History cannot possibly be contained in a book of only 120 pages. But this condensed history, in English, complimented color and B&W illustrations is a wonderful way to prepare for a visit, and further exploration of the Czech Republic's second city. Published in 2009 by K-public and Jiří Krejčí. ISBN:978-80-87028-07-0 This paperback booklet, in A4 format, contains a wealth of color photographs of the interiors, natural surroundings and festive events that portray daily life in this not so sleepy corner of Moravia. This 55 page booklet is sure to entice even those without roots in this area to visit. Czech language.  This small 47 page booklet, with B&W and color pictures, is a guide to the Museum of Puppetry in Chrudim. It contains a brief history of this theater craft, as well as a contemporary perspective. English language. Three plays by the late Vaclav Havel. Before he was President of the Czech Republic he wrote for the stage. These 3 are short, poignant, barely disguised autobiographical snapshots from the life of the author. Ota Pavel's beautiful autobiographic description of his childhood. An idyllic telling of the dark days of WWII, in a village occupied by fear of the Nazi occupation, through the eyes of a child. English language translation, suitable for children. What is to be the descendant of Czech immigrants to America? Pat Martin, one of the driving forces at the Czech Village in Cedar Rapids, helps us to answer this through pictures, recipes and description of folk arts, faith and community. Published by Penfield in 1989, 176 pages. ISBN 0-941016-61-7 Informative and beautifully illustrated book by Jiří Bloch. This was published as a catalogue to the collections of the Český Krumlov museum of architecture and crafts. Noteworthy for the passion of the author, collecting and preserving doors, windows, hinges, handles, locks, interior stencils and more.  Jaroslav Pánek, Oldřich Tůma and others pour considerable detail into 639 pages. Organized chronologically into chapters that focus on the military, socioeconomic and political events which shaped the Czech Lands. Published by Charles' University in Prague, 2009. Translated to English by Justin Quinn, Petra Key, and Lea Bennis. Zdeněk Jirotka's classic romp through the First Republic Czech upper class. Translated into English in 2006 by Mark Corner, and illustrations by Adolf Born. This is simply a fun read, also a film, that makes for a wonderful distraction into times gone by. A story full of whit and humor, and perhaps a rare glimpse into the Czech spirit. Jiří Hájíček's award winning romance/detective story about researching in the Czech archives. For readers with roots in Bohemia, they may be thrilled by the author's descriptions of sources and the mysteries of working in historical documents. Published in 2005. Translated to English by Gale A. Kirking. This is one of many recently published biographies of one of the truly great Czech athletes, perhaps of all time. Today We Die a Little by Richard Askwith is not just a story about Emil Zátopek's many awards. It is a riveting story about his life, and the fall from grace during the darkest days of Sadly, books like this are rarely ever translated to English. Novostrašecká kronika, by Václav Preinheltr for the years 1801-1834, is yet another chronicle transcribed by historian Jan Černý, unfortunately in the Czech language only. Fortunately there is a summary, but the vast majority of details that would be of interest to anyone with roots from Nové Strašecí must be translated. Nevertheless, this is another gold mine for historical data. Published in 2008 by the District Archives in Rakovnik. A local history of the small town of Jimramov in the heart of the Czech Moravian Highlands. Published on the event of the towns 650 anniversary in 2011 by a collection of authors in Czech. Hard bound, 183 pages, with a wealth of B&W and color pictures illustrating the history of the town. A book that came to us via a family we worked with. What it lacks in detail about the old country, is made up in its detailed description about community, school, church and family. These were the ingredients necessary for survival in the new world. Written by Robert Skrabanek and published by Texas A & M University Press in 1988. On the Edge is a well researched and in depth study of the war years, and in particular the years immediately following the WWII. Igor Lukes uses materials from the archives of the US Embassy in Prague to write a compelling argument that the roots for the Cold War had already found fertile ground in the chaos and lack of a clear US objective concerning the future of Czechoslovakia at the end of the war.   This is a 62 page brochure in A4 format written by Ivan Dukovicky, the Czech Cultural Attaché to the US, on the occasion of an exhibition in Prague celebrating

Churches & Religious Shrines

As it was impossible to combine so many pictures of Castles, along with Churches, we have created two separate categories. Here, in Churches and Religious Shrines, there will be those places that we have found extraordinary during our travels. We will respect the wish of most of these locations, and not post pictures of the interiors, as this may put these sites at some risk. We will give the names and locations of the churches, chapels, and shrines.  

Klášter servitů Rabštejn nad Střelou - A Baroque gem in the Western Region, about 1.5 hours by car from Prague Kostel Nejsvětější Trojice - Valeč, West of Prague, in the Karlovy Vary District
Nearby, there is a Calvary, with the Stations of the Cross. Sváta Horá at Přibram - A Redemptorist Pilgrimage Shrine a short distance from Prague Kostel Nejsvětější Trojice at Valeč in West Bohemia's Karlovy Vary District - A dated look at an otherwise overlooked gem. It has been very nicely reconstructed in recent years. Church of Saint Giles in Uhlířské Janovice, a gothic gem that survived the turbulent reformation and counter reformation of the Hussite wars and The 30 Years War. Milevsko - Premonstratensian (Norbertine) Monastery now in the news for the recent discovery of some precious relics (including a nail that is reported to have been from the crucifixion of Christ). Sts. Peter & Paul Rotunda at Budeč near Prague A statue on the path to Marianský Tynec, welcomes pilgrims traveling on the Way of St. James (Svatojakubska cesta).    The Cistercian Monastery, Marianský Tynec, is a Baroque masterpiece designed by Jan Blažej Santini. The Monastery and Church are recently renovated, home to a remarkable museum and an cloister garden called Paradise.