Medieval castles in 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Svihov Castle

Švihov castle was built by the House of Rýzmberk ze Skály. It was besieged by the Hussites during Hussite wars, the garrison surrendered after their water moats were siphoned. It was rebuilt between 1480 and 1489 by the order of the castle’s owner, Puta Schwihau von Riesenberg, in the Late Gothic style. His sons continued in rebuilding the castle after he died and invited a famous architect Benedikt Reid. ...
Founded: 1480-1489 | Location: Švihov, Czech Republic

Zvíkov Castle

Zvíkov, often called 'the king of Czech castles', is located at the junction of the Vltava and Otava rivers. It stands on a difficult-to-access and steep promontory above the confluence of the Vltava and Otava rivers. The castle is one of the most important early-Gothic castles in Czech lands. The area was inhabited as early as prehistoric times, when the Celts built a fort here in the 1st century AD. The ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Písek, 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 the castle to the Prince-bis ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Javorník, Czech Republic

Hnevín Castle

Hněvín Castle was named after the hill it was built upon. Archaeological investigations have uncovered the remains of a castle that was there in the 9th century, but a stone castle was probably built by the Hrabišics, the owners of Most. Wenceslaus I granted Most royal city status in the 12th century and the castle becoming the seat of the district administrator. In the 13th century, the castle was brought by Wenc ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Most, Czech Republic

Radyne Castle

Radyně Castle, like the similarly conceived Kasperk, represents the height of the 14th-century trend towards the merging of castle buildings. When the castle of Starý Plzenec fell into disrepair in the first half of the 13th century, it was necessary to build a new centre of royal power for the administration of the region of Plzeň. Construction apparently began in 1353, during the rule of Charles IV, and was complete ...
Founded: 1353 | Location: Starý Plzenec, 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hagios Demetrios

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.

The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.

Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.