Medieval castles in 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, an ...
Founded: 1353 | Location: Starý Plzenec, Czech Republic

Pravda Castle Ruins

Pravda Castle was a castle, the remains of which can be found on the hill above the village of Pnětluky. The name literally means the truth. The first document to mention Pravda was written in 1380. Today"s castle was probably built during second half of 15th century on top of a prehistoric fortification. At the time of construction it was a very modern and strong fortress. During the 16th century the importance ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Pnětluky, Czech Republic

Grabstejn Castle

The original Gothic castle of Grabštejn (or Grafenstein) was founded in the 13th century. In 1562, it was bought by Crown Chancellor Georg Mehl von Strelitz. Between 1566 and 1586, he had rebuilt the castle in Renaissance style and thus turned it into a representative chateau. Georg Mehl also had a steward"s house built below the castle, which was around the year 1830 rebuilt in Classicist style. Shortly befo ...
Founded: 13th century/1566 | Location: Hradek nad Nisou, Czech Republic

Egerberk Castle Ruins

Egerberk is a ruined castle near Klášterec nad Ohří. First mentioned in 1317, the castle belonged to Wilhelm who first started to bear the attribute name 'of Egerberg'. Wilhelm was a friend of John of Luxembourg and accompanied him on his journeys. His brother Fritz was given several villages and started to bear the name of one of them - Pětipsy. The castle was then sold to the House of Šumburk from ...
Founded: 1317 | Location: Klášterec nad Ohří, 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

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

Tocnik Castle

Točník Castle was built during the reign of Wenceslaus IV at the end of the 14th century above the already existing castle Žebrák as his private residence. The two castles, Točník and Žebrák, make up a pictoresque 'couple,' standing almost right next to each other. The area where the castle stands was inhabited by people two thousand years ago, but it was not until the 14th century when the Bohemian ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Točník, 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 centu ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Písek, 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.