Castles and fortifications in Czech Republic

Prague Castle

Prague Castle, dating from the 9th century, is the official residence of the President of the Czech Republic. The castle was a seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors, and presidents of Czechoslovakia. The Bohemian Crown Jewels are kept within a hidden room inside it. According to the Guinness Book of Records, Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world, occupying an area of almost 70,000 m2. ...
Founded: 870 AD | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Cesky Krumlov Castle

Český Krumlov Castle dates back to 1240 when the first castle was built by the Witigonen family, the main branch of the powerful Rosenberg family. By the 17th century the Rosenbergs had died out and the dominion of Krumau was given to Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg by Emperor Ferdinand II and Eggenberg was named Duke of Krumau. After the death of Hans Ulrich's son, Johann Anton I von Eggenberg, the castle was administrated ...
Founded: 1240 | Location: Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

Vysehrad

Vyšehrad ('upper castle') is a historical fort built probably in the 10th century on a hill over the Vltava River. Situated within the castle is the Basilica of St Peter and St Paul, as well as the Vyšehrad Cemetery, containing the remains of many famous people from Czech history. It also contains Prague's oldest surviving building, the Rotunda of St Martin from the 11th century. Local legend holds that Vy& ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Karlstejn Castle

Karlštejn Castle is a large Gothic castle founded 1348 by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor-elect and King of Bohemia. The castle served as a place for safekeeping the Imperial Regalia as well as the Bohemian/Czech crown jewels, holy relics, and other royal treasures. It is one of the most famous and most frequently visited castles in the Czech Republic. Founded in 1348, the construction works were directed by the la ...
Founded: 1348 | Location: Karlštejn, Czech Republic

Spilberk Castle

For over seven centuries, Špilberk Castle has dominated the skyline of Brno. From a major royal castle and the seat of the Moravian margraves, it gradually turned into a huge baroque fortress, the heaviest prison in the Austro-Hungarian empire, and then a barracks. Today, Špilberk houses the Brno City Museum. The castle was established in the mid-13th century by Czech King Přemysl Otakar II as a seat f ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Brno, Czech Republic

Telc Castle

The Gothic castle of Telč was built in the second half of the 14th century by the lords of Hradec. At the end of the 15th century the castle fortifications were strengthened and a new gate-tower built. In the middle of the 16th century the medieval castle no longer satisfied Renaissance nobleman Zachariáš of Hradec, who had the castle altered in the Renaissance style. The ground floor was vaulted anew, ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Telč, Czech Republic

Lednice Castle

The first historical record of Lednice locality dates from 1222. At that time there stood a Gothic fort with courtyard, which was lent by Czech King Václav I to Austrian nobleman Sigfried Sirotek in 1249. At the end of the 13th century the Liechtensteins, originally from Styria, became holders of all of Lednice and of nearby Mikulov. They gradually acquired land on both sides of the Moravian-Austrian border. Membe ...
Founded: 1846-1858 | Location: Lednice, Czech Republic

Italian Court

The Italian Court is a palace in Kutná Hora. Originally, it was the seat of the Central Mint of Prague, named after the Italian experts who were at the forefront of the minting reform. After its reconstruction at the end of the 14th century, the Italian Court became a part-time royal residence. For many centuries, the Italian Court was the centre of the state economic power: it contained the royal mint and was the ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Kutná Hora, Czech Republic

Litomysl Castle

The East Bohemian town of Litomyšl emerged in the 13th century on the site of an older fortified settlement on the Trstenice path - an important trading route linking Bohemia and Moravia. The dominant feature of Litomysl is the monumental Renaissance castle dating from the years 1568 - 1581. The buildings of the castle precincts are not only exceptional for their architectural refinement, but have also inscribed t ...
Founded: 1568-1581 | Location: Litomyšl, Czech Republic

Valtice Castle

The Chateau Valtice belonged to Liechtenstein family from 1387 until 1945. There is one hundred impressive rooms in the four-wing building of the Chateau Valtice. The tour of the Baroque residence, surrounding park and a wine bar in the neighborhood takes at least half a day, and it is accessible only seventeen rooms! The furniture is in the Baroque and Rococo style and it creates a perfect imagine of a life of the rich n ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Valtice, Czech Republic

Pardubice Castle

The history of the feudal residence on the site of the current Pardubice castle goes back to the end of the 13th century. It underwent numerous reconstructions. The most significant took place at the end of the 15th century and beginning of the 16th century under the rule of the lords of Pernštejn. The original castle was transformed into a palace. A new, massive fortress was built around it. Thus, a combination of ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Pardubice, Czech Republic

Hluboká Castle

Hluboká Castle (Schloss Frauenberg) is considered one of the most beautiful castles in the Czech Republic. In the second half of the 13th century, a Gothic castle was built at the site. During its history, the castle was rebuilt several times. It was first expanded during the Renaissance period, then rebuilt into a Baroque castle at the order of Adam Franz von Schwarzenberg in the beginning of the 18th century. It ...
Founded: 1840-1871 | Location: Hluboká nad Vltavou, Czech Republic

Krivoklát Castle

Křivoklát Castle was founded in the 12th century, belonging to the kings of Bohemia. During the reign of Přemysl Otakar II a large, monumental royal castle was built, later rebuilt by king Václav IV and later enlarged by king Vladislav of Jagellon. The castle was damaged by fire several times. It was turned into a harsh prison and the building slowly deteriorated. During the 19th century, the fami ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Křivoklát, Czech Republic

Melník Castle

The Mělník castle belongs to the most important sights of this town. Since Princess Ludmila, the grandmother of the Good King Wenceslas, who was born in Mělník, the castle has been the residence of the queen widows of Bohemia. Under Emperor Charles IV, Mělník became a royal town. His last wife built the chapel of the castle with its gothic vaults. The last queen who resided in Mělník, was the wife of king Jiri o ...
Founded: 1542 | Location: Mělník, Czech Republic

Olomouc Castle

The first written mention of the castle in Olomouc is included in the Cosmas Chronicle in 1055. The king Wenceslas III, the last Přemyslid, also stayed at the castle and was assassinated here in 1306. In 1767 the young Mozart stayed in the house of the Chapter Provost on the castle grounds and composed Symphony No. 6 in F major here. Some of the recent celebrities who have visited the site are Mother Theresa or Pope ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Olomouc, Czech Republic

Kromeriz Castle and Gardens

Kroměříž stands on the site of an earlier ford across the River Morava. The gardens and castle of Kroměříž are an exceptionally complete and well-preserved example of a European Baroque princely residence and its gardens and described as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The first residence on the site was founded by bishop Stanislas Thurzo in 1497. The building was in a Late Gothic style, ...
Founded: 1497/1664 | Location: Kroměříž, Czech Republic

Cesky Sternberk Castle

Ceský Sternberk Castle is an early Gothic castle which was constructed, named and still owned by members of the same family. Today it is a residence that bears a long historical and architectural heritage and represents an attractive tourist destination open to the public. It is considered one of the best preserved Gothic Bohemian castles. The castle was initially built in 1241 by Zdeslav of Divisov, later called Zdesla ...
Founded: 1241 | Location: Český Šternberk, Czech Republic

Bouzov Castle

Bouzov Castle was established at the turn of the 14th century with the purpose to watch over the trade route from Olomouc to Loštice. The minor aristocratic Buz of Bludovec family were its first recorded owners from 1317-1339. The castle also takes its name from the family. Ownership of the castles was then changed, and the Lords of Kunštát were among the most important medieval owners. According to tradition, the Bouz ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Bouzov, Czech Republic

Hrad Helfštýn

Helfštýn castle was probably established at the end of the 13th century by the marauding knight Friduš (or Helfrid) of Linava who used the castle as a base for robbing merchants during the unsettled times that followed the murder of Wenceslas III, the last Pøemyslide, in 1306. As Friduš"s escapades could not be ignored, young King John of Luxemburg sent his troops to deal with the bandit ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Lipník nad Bečvou, Czech Republic

Bezdez Castle

Bezděz Castle construction began before 1264 by order of Přemysl Otakar II. It was one of the most important royal castles in the Czech lands until its destruction in the Thirty Years" War. A year after Přemysl’s death, the castle Bezděz, which was still unfinished, became the place of imprisonment of Queen Kunhuta and her underage son Václav II (or Wenceslas II), kept under lock and ...
Founded: c. 1260 | Location: Bezděz, Czech Republic

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Steinvikholm Castle

Steinvikholm Castle is an island fortress built between 1525 to 1532 by Norway's last Catholic archbishop, Olav Engelbrektsson. Steinvikholm castle became the most powerful fortification by the time it was built, and it is the largest construction raised in the Norwegian Middle Ages.

The castle occupies about half of the land on the rocky island. The absence of a spring meant that fresh water had to be brought from the mainland. A wooden bridge served as the only way to the island other than boat. Although the castle design was common across Europe in 1525, its medieval design was becoming obsolete because of the improved siege firepower offered by gunpowder and cannons.

The castle was constructed after Olav Engelbrektsson returned from a meeting with the Pope in Rome, presumably in anticipation of impending military-religious conflict. As Archbishop Engelbrektsson's resistance to the encroachment of Danish rule escalated, first with Frederick I of Denmark and his successor Christian III of Denmark, Steinvikholm Castle and Nidarholm Abbey became the Catholic Church's military strongholds in Norway. In April 1537, the Danish-Norwegian Reformation succeeded in driving the archbishop from the castle into exile in Lier in the Netherlands (now in Belgium), where he died on 7 February 1538. At the castle the archbishop left behind St. Olav's shrine and other treasures from Nidaros Cathedral (Trondheim). The original coffin containing St. Olav's body remained at Steinvikholm until it was returned to Nidaros Cathedral in 1564. Since 1568 St. Olav's grave in Nidaros has been unknown.

From the 17th to 19th century, the island was used as a quarry and some of its masonry was sold and removed from the site. This activity was condoned by the Danish-Norwegian authorities as a way of eliminating a monument to the opposition of the Danish–Norwegian Union.

Steinvikholm fort is owned and operated today by The society for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments. The island has been the site of the midnight opera which details the life and struggles of the archbishop. The opera is held in August annually. The opera is organized by Steinvikholm Musikkteater since the beginning in 1993.