Czech and Moravian Castles
The Czech lands boast an extraordinarily high number of cultural monuments. Over 2,000 preserved castles and chateaux (more per square mile than any other country in the world) represent an important part of the national cultural heritage, both in terms of their number and in terms of their historical and artistic value; their significance transcends national borders, and more than a few of these structures are important even in the global cultural context.
Prague Castle - the seat of Czech princes and kings - was established around 870. Emperor Charles IV. ordered Gothic alterations and started to build the Cathedral in 1344. The castle became a centre of art and education under Emperor Rudolf II, who filled it with valuable collections. The castle gained its current form in the middle of the 18th century and the Cathedral of Saint Vitus was completed in 1929. The castle is the seat of the President of the Republic and is home to several museums and galleries.
The most important Czech castle was founded by Charles IV. in 1348 to house the crown jewels and the national archive. The design and location of the various buildings, arranged in order of importance, correspond to the castle's importance and special position. The lowest is the burgrave's residence, followed by the royal palace, the Marian Tower and the Church of the Virgin Mary and, finally, the Chapel of the Holy Cross, where the crown jewels were stored. The chapel's walls are decorated by a unique cycle of 127 paintings by Master Theodoric.
Points of interest: Entirely unique is the original decoration of wall paintings dating back to the 14th century, collection of 129 panel paintings by Master Theodoric in the Chapel of the Holy Cross (the world largest if its kind), the largest portrait gallery of Czech rulers in the country, exhibited replica of St. Wenceslas crown - the coronation crown of the Czech Kings as well as the unique castle well.
The royal hunting castle was built in the depths of Krivoklat Forest in the Middle Ages and underwent significant alterations at the end of the 15th century. The most attractive parts of the interior are the Gothic chapel with its winged alter and the Royal Hall with its star vaulting.
The history of Konopiště Chateus is primarily linked to that of its last owner, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne Franz Ferdinand d'Este (assassinated in 1914 in Sarajevo). He had the chateau, originally a French-style castle, modernized in a romantic style in 1889-94 and hung valuable collections of works of art and, in particular, his hunting trophies and famous weapons collection.
Hluboká nad Vltavou
Hluboka nad Vltavou Chateau is one of the most beautiful Czech chateaux. The Schwarzenberg family gave it its current Gothic form, inspired by Windsor Castle, in 1841-71. The chateau stands out thanks to its richly decorated halls, which boast carved ceilings and wall paneling and valuable historical fixtures and fittings.
This royal castle was founded in the middle of the 13th century and has retained its original early Gothic form until today. It has a remarkable courtyard with a twin loggia and a chapel with 15th and 16th century paintings. The castle is enclosed by the Orlicka Dam on three sides.
The charm of this small, picturesque Renaissance chateau is primarily due to its location on an island in the middle of a lake and also the colour (red) after which it was named. The excellent Baroque composer Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf lived in Červená Lhota at the end of the 18th century.
This unique water castle dating from the end of the 15 th century was built on the plains near Klatovy. After the Thirty Years War, when it escaped destruction, the castle was used for farming and has survived in an unchanged form, including its well-preserved water fortifications.
This important medieval fortress was built to protect the Czech state's western border in 1239. The castle underwent alterations and was extended several times. It served as a prison at the end of the 19 th century, but is currently a museum displaying porcelain produced in Loket and the nearby porcelain factories.
This castle, visible from a long way away, controls the lowlands on the border between Central and North Bohemia. It was built for Premysl Otakar II in 1264-1278 by a Cistercian-Burgundy construction project. Unchanged since then, it was popular with romantic artists in the 19 th century. Remarkable chapel with elements of French cathedral Gothic.
The basalt towers and the ruins of Trosky Castle have become a symbol of the Bohemian Paradise area. Of the medieval castle dating from the middle of the 14 th century only twin stone towers remain; the smaller one is open to the public and offers an incredible view of Bohemian Pradise.
Hrádek u Nechanic
This attractive and romantic chateau was one of the last Czech chateaux to be built. It was built in 1839-1857 in Neogothic style according to an English design. The interiors contain richly furnished halls with carved wooden paneling and waffle ceilings. The chateau is surrounded by a landscaped park with a golf course.
The silhouette of this 15 th century castle stands our in the lowlands between Hradec Králove and Pardubice. It was once one of the best-fortified castles in Bohemia. The castle was burned in 1645, but modernization at the start of the 20 th century preserved it.
This remarkably well-preserved medieval castle underwent alterations and was extended in the 15 th and 16 th centuries. The castle was the seat of the powerful Pernštejn family and is remarkable for its number of white marble oriels, galleries, small towers and reveals. The interior contains original Gothic spaces and a Baroque Knights' Hall with stuccowork.
Vranov nad Dyjí
One of the most beautiful Baroque chateaux. It was preceded by a medieval castle, which was transformed into a Baroque residence from 1678 according to a design by J. B. Fischer von Erlach. The highpoint of the extensive grounds is an oval building with a dome and an ancestral hall. Baroque and Neo-classical wall paintings in the interior. More information here .
Originally a Premyslid castle dating from the 13th century in the centre of the Moravian capital of Brno. It was rebuilt as a baroque fortress in the 17th century and used as a prison, becoming infamous as the "Gaol of the Nations" in the 19th century. It currently houses exhibitions put on by the Museum of Brno.
This ostentatious Baroque chateau belonged to Count Kounic chancellor to Empress Maria Theresa. The building, according to a design by D. Martinelli, was completed in 1752. The Baroque halls are filled by a picture gallery, family collections and a museum devoted to the Napoleonic Wars. The Battle of the Three Emperors, where Napoleon beat the combined armies of Austria and Russia, took place near Slavkov (Austerlitz) in 1805.
This Baroque chateau inspired by Italian summer villas was built in 1707+38 by Domenico Martinelli. The chateau is made up of two opposing buildings of which the lower is the actual chateau with its remarkable interiors, containing stuccowork and frescos, and the upper was for the servants. The chateau is surrounded by a magnificent park in a Baroque and freely adapted English style.
The former capital of Moravia and seat of the archbishop can boast many Baroque churches, palaces and a Gothic cathedral. Next to the town hall, the 32m-high Holy Trinity Column, which is a UNESCO monument and dates from 1754, dominates the main square. We can also find a Premyslid Palace (castle) with its well-preserved Romanesque details in Olomouc.
One of the largest and best-fortified castles in Europe protected the trade route to Silesia at the "Moravian Gate". The original castle of modest size was extended at the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th century. The power of the entry fortification is emphasized by the 9m-thick wall. The castle was abandoned in the middle of the 18th century, but was progressively rebuilt in recent years. Each year it hosts a gathering of artistic smiths.