Loket Castle (Hrad Loket, Burg Elbogen) is a 12th-century Gothic style castle on a massive rock in the town of Loket. Once known as 'the Impregnable Castle of Bohemia', because of its thick walls, it is one of the oldest and most valuable historical stone castles in the Czech lands. It is administered by the Loket Castle Foundation since 1993 and preserved today as a museum and national monument.
is said to have been founded in 870 by the margraves of Vohenburg to whom the entire Elbogen districts belonged until the 12th century. The first written mention of Loket as a town dates from a 1234. According to archeological investigations, the foundation of the stone castle dates back to the third quarter of the 12th century. The old romanesque castle comprised two towers, a church and a building standing on the site of the present Margrave's House. Above all, the castle served as protection to the merchant's path leading from Prague through Cheb and on to Plauen and Erfurt, but after the re-annexation by the Czech state it began functioning as a frontier fortress. By this time it became the new administrative centre of the region.
By the turn of the 13th century a settlement was built around the castle walls and later raised into a royal town. From the 1250s the castle was gradually enlarged and the formerly Romanesque building turned into a Gothic stronghold which was often visited by the members of the royal family.
Under the rule of Přemysl Otakar II a new fortification wall with half-cylindrical towers was constructed. The Hussite Wars did not avoid Loket when it found itself in the hands of the supporter of the Catholic Church burgrave Půta of Illburk. The Hussite troops tried twice to conquer the castle, but both crusades ended without success. The comprehensive restoration of the castle under Wenceslaus IV was decisive for its present form. Of the original Romanesque buildings, those preserved were mainly the extremely rare rotunda, the foundations of the castle tower and those of the northern palace. The Margave's House also originated in the reign of Wenceslaus IV.
Further reconstruction took place in the second half of the 15th century when the castle was turned into a representative ancestral seat under the administration of the House of Slik, which lasted for more than 100 years.
In 1725 the castle was burned down and only the ground floor and the underground of the castle remained. In the beginning of the 19th century the Margrave's House was then rebuilt and a museum of porcelain established.
The castle today is divided into nine different parts containing many medieval artefacts of historical interest. Besides the Margrave's House where an exhibition of porcelain is on display and the remains of a Romanesque rotunda, the smallest of its type in the Czech Republic, the castle also features the prison cells and the chamber of torture, the wedding and the ceremonial hall, the historical arms and Archeological hall, where a maquette of the so-called 'bewitched burgrave' Elbogen meteorite is on display, a Romanesque prismatic tower, the 15th-century burgrave's house and the captain's house, and a 16th-century palace with two wings and fortifications incorporating strongholds.
Built in romanesque style, it was finally set up into its present appearance to serve as the town museum in 1907. After recent reconstructions the museum of locally-made porcelain has been re-opened to the public on the first floor. Later, exhibitions were also held in other rooms in the castle. Several tombstones are arranged in a row by the entrance to the building. One of them coming from rabbi Benjamin's Renaissance tomb from the extinct Jewish cemetery, which was situated on the Robičské suburb, with a laudatory poem dating approximately of 1700, while the others come from the former Loket cemetery at St. John's Church.
During the archeological research in spring 1993, many fragments as well as other materials from the time of the many reconstruction periods in the Loket castle were found. The masonry of the original Romanesque rampart from before 1230, when the castle was built, was then uncovered. The walls are 2.2 by 2.5 metres thick. In the upper part of the excavation, below the main window, the walls of the palace from the times of the castle reconstruction during the reign of King Wenceslas and the remains of a Renaissance kitchen dating back to 1528–1536 were also found.
The rotunda, originally hidden in the body of a spiral staircase in the northern part of the castle, indicates its Slavs origin. It probably originated at the end of the 12th century because the complete building concept of a Romanesque castle would otherwise have been an exception in the concept of Premyslid castles of the 12th century. It needs to be added that even historians do not agree whether the castle was the work of the Schtauf or Premyslid architecture.
The Baroque cathedral was erected on the site of the original Gothic church, which was burned down in 1725. The new church was completed in 1734, to a design by Wolfgang Braubock. The altar paintings are attributed to Petr Brandl, and both the valuable side altars were probably the work of the Loket sculptor Jan Wild. When the church was reconstructed, the old churchyard behind the presbytery was restored. A monument to Lord Václav Popel of Lobkovice, imprisoned in Loket and buried in the church crypt, was erected here.References:
Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.
Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.
Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.