Medieval castles 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

Kokorin Castle

Kokořín Castle was built around 1320 by order of Hynek Berka of Dubé. At the close of the 15th century the castle was heavily damaged during the Hussite Wars and renovated in the late Gothic style by the lords of Klinštejn. Since the middle of the 17th century Kokořín had been tenantless and it deteriorated. The ruins were not bought until 1894 by Václav Špaček of ...
Founded: 1320 | Location: Mělník, 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

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

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

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

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

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

Znojmo Castle

Znojmo Castle was initially a wooden structure built by the Přemyslid Bretislaus I, Duke of Bohemia, and completed around 1080. The structure was intended to replace an old castle that was located across the Granice Valley, as part of an attempt at strengthening the defenses along the river Dyje against Austrian attack. From the new castle the river valley and surrounding area could be observed. However, in 1140, the woo ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Znojmo, 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

Blansko Castle

Blansko castle, likely built in 1431 but first mentioned in a reliable source in 1532. Currently the site of the Blansko Museum. The following exhibitions are permanent: Moravian Karst, The Oldest Ironworks, Ironworking in the 19th and 20th century, the castle"s history and the history of Blansko in relation to developing improved measurement devices. There are also exhibitions, cultural events and music concerts hel ...
Founded: 1431 | Location: Blansko, 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

Silesian Ostrava Castle

Silesian Ostrava Castle was originally built in the 1280s near the confluence of the Lučina and Ostravice rivers. The castle was built for military purposes due to its proximity to the Polish border. In 1534, the gothic castle was rebuilt into a renaissance chateau. It burned down in 1872 but was rebuilt. It was restored recently after many years of dilapidation, caused by coal mining under the castle. Today, the ca ...
Founded: 1280s | Location: Ostrava, 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

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

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

Roudnice Castle

Roudnice Castle was built in the 12th century by Bishop Jindřich Břetislav, the nephew of the Czech king Vladislav I, to protected an important trade route from Prague to Upper Lusatia along the Elbe. The castle complex included several farm buildings, protected by a fortified wall; the castle itself had walls that were two meters thick, and watch towers in each corner. In the mid-14th century, it was rebuilt in ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Roudnice nad Labem, Czech Republic

Roztoky Castle

It is not clear when and by whom the Roztoky fortress was found. Appearance of the fortress was documented by the archaeological research from the period of the 2nd half of the 13th century, when the place around the fortress consisted of a huge stone residential tower, surrounded by a high city wall, a moat and a rampart. The floor plan of the residential tower is marked in the stone pavement of the courtyard. In written ...
Founded: 1476 | Location: Roztoky, Czech Republic

Vranov Castle

Vranov nad Dyjí castle was first mentioned by Cosmas of Prague in 1100 as a border sentry castle. It was built by the Dukes of Bohemia to defend the southern border of Moravia against raids from the neighbouring Austrian March. Until 1323 the castle was in royal hands but in that year king John of Bohemia pawned Vranov to a powerful Bohemian nobleman, the viceroy Jindřich of Lipá. In 1421, during the d ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Vranov nad Dyjí, Czech Republic

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.

The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, for the Augustinian Order. The Monastery, built in Romanesque style outside the city walls, was one of the most important monastic foundations in mediaeval Portugal. It is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, whose relics were brought from the Algarve to Lisbon in the 12th century.

The present buildings are the result of a reconstruction ordered by King Philip II of Spain, who had become King of Portugal (as Philip I) after a succession crisis in 1580. The church of the monastery was built between 1582 and 1629, while other monastery buildings were finished only in the 18th century. The author of the design of the church is thought to be the Italian Jesuit Filippo Terzi and/or the Spaniard Juan de Herrera. The plans were followed and modified by Leonardo Turriano, Baltazar Álvares, Pedro Nunes Tinoco and João Nunes Tinoco.

The church of the Monastery has a majestic, austere façade that follows the later Renaissance style known as Mannerism. The façade, attributed to Baltazar Álvares, has several niches with statues of saints and is flanked by two towers (a model that would become widespread in Portugal). The lower part of the façade has three arches that lead to the galilee (entrance hall). The floorplan of the church reveals a Latin cross building with a one-aisled nave with lateral chapels. The church is covered by barrel vaulting and has a huge dome over the crossing. The general design of the church interior follows that of the prototypic church of Il Gesù, in Rome.

The beautiful main altarpiece is a Baroque work of the 18th century by one of the best Portuguese sculptors, Joaquim Machado de Castro. The altarpiece has the shape of a baldachin and is decorated with a large number of statues. The church also boasts several fine altarpieces in the lateral chapels.

The Monastery buildings are reached through a magnificent baroque portal, located beside the church façade. Inside, the entrance is decorated with blue-white 18th century tiles that tell the history of the Monastery, including scenes of the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. The ceiling of the room has an illusionistic painting executed in 1710 by the Italian Vincenzo Baccarelli. The sacristy of the Monastery is exuberantly decorated with polychromed marble and painting. The cloisters are also notable for the 18th century tiles that recount fables of La Fontaine, among other themes.

In 1834, after the religious orders were dissolved in Portugal, the monastery was transformed into a palace for the archbishops of Lisbon. Some decades later, King Ferdinand II transformed the monks' old refectory into a pantheon for the kings of the House of Braganza. Their tombs were transferred from the main chapel to this room.