After the beauty of many Czech towns, the imposing double fortress of Terezín comes as a moving reminder of the more tragic aspects of Central Europe's past. The massive bastion of stone and earth was built in 1780 by Emperor Joseph II to keep the Prussians at bay, and could accommodate up to 11,000 soldiers. The fortress was never used in wartime, instead serving as a prison in the mid-19th century. Gavrilo Princip, the Serb nationalist who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 to ignite WWI, died in the prison in 1918.
But the place is best known to history for its role as a notorious WWII concentration camp. Around 150,000 men, women and children, mostly Jews, passed through on their way to the extermination camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau – 35,000 of them died here of hunger, disease or suicide; only 4000 survived.