Medieval castles in Czech Republic

Decin Castle

Perched atop its cliff where the Ploučnice meets the Elbe, Děčín Castle is one of the oldest and largest landmarks in northern Bohemia. In the past several hundred years it has served as a point of control for the Bohemian princes, a military fortress, and noble estate. The forerunner of the Děčín Castle was a wooden fortress built towards the end of the 10th century by the Bohemian princes. The first written reco ...
Founded: 993 AD | Location: Děčín, Czech Republic

Veverí Castle

According to legend, the castle Veveří was founded by Duke Conrad of Brno in the middle of the 11th century. Nevertheless, the first written mention about the castle is from the years 1213 and 1222, when King Přemysl Otakar I used the fortified castle as a prison for rebellious peers. Initially, it was apparently a wooden or masonry residence situated near the Romanesque church of the Assumption of the Vi ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Brno, Czech Republic

Bítov Castle

Bítov Castle is located on a steep promotory towering above the meandering River Želetavka. Built in the 11th century, Bítov is one of the oldest and largest Moravian castles. A Přemyslid fortified settlement originally stood on the site and included the Chapel of Our Lady. The fort was rebuilt in the first half of the 13th century as an impregnable Gothic castle guarding the southern boundaries of th ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Bítov, Czech Republic

Nový Hrádek Castle

The ruins of Nový Hradek castle dates from the 14th century, on a promontory overlooking Dyje river. It is situated in the National Park Podyjí, accessible from the villages Podmolí or Lukov, but only on foot or by bicycle. The first historically proven owners of this territory were the Premonstratensian monks from the Louka monastery in Znojmo, who exchanged it with the Moravian Margrave John Henry ...
Founded: 1358 | Location: Znojmo, Czech Republic

Konopiste Palace

Konopiště is a palace, which become famous as the last residence of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir of the Austro-Hungarian throne, whose assassination in Sarajevo triggered World War I. The bullet that killed him, fired by Gavrilo Princip, is now an exhibit at the castle"s museum. The castle was apparently established in the 1280s by Prague Bishop Tobiaš as a Gothic fortification with a ...
Founded: 1280s | Location: Benešov, Czech Republic

Hasistejn Castle

Hasištejn (Burg Hassenstein) is a ruined medieval castle situated near Kadaň, Klášterec nad Ohří and Chomutov. The castle, first mentioned in Maiestas Carolina, was probably founded by Friedrich of Schönburg to guard the way from Prague to Saxony. The castle was seized by Václav IV of Luxembourg in the early 15th century and given to Nicholas of Lobkowicz. The most renowned inhabitant of the cas ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Chomutov, Czech Republic

Strekov Castle

Střekov Castle (Schreckenstein) is perched atop a cliff above the River Elbe, near the city of Ústí nad Labem. It was built in 1316 for John of Luxembourg, the father of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, to guard an important trade route to Germany. After changing hands several times, the castle was acquired by the Lobkowicz family in 1563. Its strategic importance led to occupations by Imperial Habsburg, Saxon, ...
Founded: 1316 | Location: Ústí nad Labem, 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

Cornstejn Castle

Cornštejn Castle stands on a strategic location, surrounded by magnificent landscape of the Dyje (Thaya) River Valley. It was built on royal demesne land which was subordinated to Bítov Castle and which was pawned and later (1308) granted as a fief to the noble family of Lichtenburg. In the 1320s Raimund of Lichtenburg, King Wenceslaus II’s favourite, decided to strengthen the security of Bítov ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Bítov, Czech Republic

Kost Castle

Kost Castle is is privately owned by Kinský dal Borgo noble family. It was first proposed by Beneš von Wartenberg in 1349 as a possible construction site and was completed by his son Peter von Wartenberg. It retains most of the original features and is overall very well preserved and maintained. The castle is known for its so-called 'White tower'. In about 1414 the family of Zajíc von Hasenburg moved there; later the ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Libošovice, Czech Republic

Buchlov Castle

The Buchlov royal castle was built in the first half of the 13th century, but archaeological finds suggest that the area around Buchlov castle was settled in the oldest periods of civilization. The first castle was created with two massive prismatic towers situated on opposite parts of a rocky plateau. A high palace on the southern part of the yard was built at the same time and it was surrounded by a wall. The second co ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Buchlovice, Czech Republic

Hrubý Rohozec Castle

Hrubý Rohozec is a castle in Turnov. The original structure was connected to a polygonal tower by a defensive wall. Its purpose, in the 14th century, was to monitor the trade route running below it. Between the two parts of the castle Jan von Šelmberk, and later Konrad Kraiger Kraigk, built Gothic palaces. During the Renaissance the Wartenberg family rebuilt the complex in the style of a chateaux. Albrecht ...
Founded: c. 1280 | Location: Turnov, Czech Republic

Hazmburk Castle

Hazmburk (Hasenburg) is a Gothic castle ruin located on a mountain peak near the town of Libochovice. The castle was home to Zajíc noble family of which Zbyněk Zajíc was the first to own the castle (since 1335). After 1586, it remains desolate and later, in the period of romanticism, it became a source of inspiration for writers, most notably K.H. Mácha. The castle is open to public in summer and can be either acce ...
Founded: c. 1335 | Location: Libochovice, Czech Republic

Stramberk Castle

Štramberk Castle ruins have an unknown origin (according to an old tale, the site of its original planned location was on the opposite hill Kotouè, but that was prevented by dwarves from the cave Devil's hole). Apparently, it was made to protect country boundaries. According to the most recent information, the castle was built either by members of the aristocratic family, Benešovic, or more precisely, ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Štramberk, Czech Republic

Kadan Castle

In the 13th century, the town of Kadaň was promoted to a 'Royal City'. It began to thrive and a new town was built on the heights above the river, with a castle and Franciscan monastery. The castle was mentioned first time in 1289. It was established as a four-wing Premyslid castle with a housing palace over the river. It served as the seat of the royal burgrave – the administrator of the Kadan region. The ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Kadaň, Czech Republic

Jánský vrch Castle

Jánský vrch castle stands on a hill above the town of Javorník in the north-western edge of Czech Silesia, in area what was a part of the Duchy of Nysa. For most of its history the castle belonged to the Prince-bishops of Breslau (Wrocław) in Silesia. The castle is first mentioned in written sources in 1307, when it was still the property of the Princes of Svidník. In the 1348, they sold ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Javorník, Czech Republic

Krupka Castle Ruins

Krupka castle was probably founded by John of Bohemia sometime around the year 1320 when the king wanted to boost fortifications in the border region with Saxony. King John donated the castle, together with the town of Krupka, the tin mines and Trmice in 1330 to the Meissen noble Thimoteus (Těma) of Kolditz. Thimoteus subsequently purchased the Kirchlice fort and in 1335 made a contract with the Lords of Bergau to adju ...
Founded: c. 1320 | Location: Krupka, Czech Republic

Kynzvart Castle Ruins

Kynžvart was once significant castle, located at one of the highest elevations on the territory of the Czech Republic (827 m), used to stand near the famous Kynžvart Chateau of Austrian Chancellor Metternich. Its original name was Königswart (Royal Guard) as it was built as a border stronghold of the kingdom in the 13th century. The castle frequently changed its owners and it even served as a hideaway for thieves i ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Lázně Kynžvart , Czech Republic

Benesov nad Ploucnici Castle

The dominating feature of the Benešov nad Ploučnicí town is actually two castles from the 13th century, the Lower and Upper castles. There is a permanent exhibition of Chinese art and day and night tours are available as well as social meetings.  The history of the castle started in the 13th century when a settlement of tradesmen and shopkeepers began under the castle Ostrý. The people were satisfied there, the set ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Benešov nad Ploučnicí, Czech Republic

Tolstejn Castle Ruins

The Tolštejn Castle (now reduced to ruins) was built in 1278 as part of the Zittau region"s defense structure. George of Poděbrady ordered the castle to be seized shortly after the Hussite Wars and after many conflicts, the Tolštejn dominion was taken by 1471 by two Saxon princes, Ernest and Albrecht. During the Thirty Years War, the army of the Austrian Emperor occupied the castle. In 1607, the Swedi ...
Founded: 1278 | Location: Varnsdorf, Czech Republic

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Christian conquest, Aranjuez was owned by the Order of Santiago and a palace was built for its Grand Masters where the Royal Palace stands today. When the Catholic Monarchs assumed the office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Aranjuez became part of the Royal estate. This fertile land, located between the Tajo and Jarama Rivers, was converted into the Spanish monarchy"s most lavish country retreat: during Spain"s Golden Age, Aranjuez became a symbol for the perfection of nature by mortal hands, as El Escorial was for art.

Such excellence was based on strong Renaissance foundations, as Charles V envisaged this inherited estate as a large Italian-inspired villa, a desire continued by Philip II who appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo to design leafy avenues that ran through the gardens and farming land. A series of dams was constructed in the 16th century to control the course of the Tajo River and create a network of irrigation canals.

The splendour of the estate was only enhanced by the Bourbon monarchs, who would spend the whole spring, from Easter to July, at the Palace. Phillip V added new gardens and Ferdinand VI designed a new system of tree-lined streets and created a small village within the estate, which was further developed by Charles III and Charles IV. As Ferdinand VII and Isabella II continued to visit Aranjuez during the spring, the splendour of this site was maintained until 1870.

The Royal Palace, built by Phillip II on the site of the old palace of the Grand Masters of Santiago, was designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo –under whom construction began in 1564– and later Juan Herrera, who only managed to finish half the project. Although glimpses of the original layout still remain, the building itself is more characteristic of the classicism favoured by the Hapsburg monarchs, with alternating white stone and brick. The original design was continued by Phillip V in 1715 but not finished until 1752 under Ferdinand VI. The rectangular layout that Juan Bautista de Toledo had planned, and that took two centuries to complete, was only maintained for 20 years, since in 1775 Charles III added two wings onto the Palace.

Real Casa del Labrador

As the Prince of Asturias, Charles IV was a frequent visitor to the pier pavilions built by Ferdinand VI and grew up playing in the Prince’s Garden. When he became King, he decided to build a new country house at the far end of these gardens, known as the Casa del Labrador (the labourer"s house) due to its modest exterior that was designed to heavily contrast the magnificent internal decor. It was built by chief architect Juan de Villanueva and his pupil Isidro González Velázquez, who designed some of the interior spaces. These rooms, developed in various stages until 1808, are the greatest example of the lavish interior decor favoured by this monarch in his palaces and country retreats. Highlights at this Site include the combination of different types of art and the luxurious textiles, in particular the silks from Lyon, as well as wealth of original works on the main floor, where Ferdinand VII added various paintings and landscapes by Brambilla.

King"s Garden, the Island Garden, Parterre Garden and the Prince"s Garden

Phillip II, a great lover of gardens, paid special attention to this feature of the Aranjuez Palace: during his reign, he maintained both the Island Garden, designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and the King"s Garden, immediately adjacent to the Palace and whose current layout was designed by Philip IV. The majority of the fountains on this island were commissioned by Phillip IV, while the Bourbons added other features such as the Charles III benches.

Phillip V made two French-style additions to the existing gardens: the Parterre Garden in front of the palace and the extension at the far end of the Island Garden, known as the Little Island, where he installed the Tritons Fountain that was later moved to the Campo del Moro park by Isabella II.

The Prince"s Garden owes its name and creation to the son and heir of Charles III who, in the 1770s, began to use Ferdinand VI"s old pier for his own enjoyment. He also created a landscaped garden in the Anglo-French style that was in fashion at the time and which was directly influenced by Marie Antoinette"s gardens at the Petit Trianon. Both Juan de Villanueva and Pablo Boutelou collaborated in the design of this garden.