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 bandits. Although Friduš perished, he gave his name to the castle. At the turn of the 14th century the Kravaø family acquired it, after which it became the center of their extensive estates. During the 14th and the beginning of the 15th century the castle was remodelled as a Gothic fortress. The Lords of Kravaø owned the castle until 1447, and it was then held mostly by a number of Moravian noble families, among them the Sovinec family, the Kostek of Postupice family, the Pernštejn, the Ludanice and the Vrbno family. This unassailable structure withstood a number of sieges. It was an important Hussite bastion against the German catholic town of Olomouc and also acted in support of King George of Podìbrady against the Hungarian King Mathias Corvin who was unable to defeat the king"s troops and capture the fortress in 1468. Not even the Swedes and the Danes succeeded in capturing it during the Thirty Years" War.

The castle gained its current, elongated form during the ownership of Vilém of Pernštejn, at the beginning of the 16th century, when the network of bastions and fortified outer wards was added and the system of towers and gates was changed. The most extensive alterations were carried out from 1622 by its late owners, the Ditrichtejns. The changes were limited to the interior, and most of the rooms were newly vaulted. Its building development, was strongly influenced by the Austrian military administration in Vienna in 1656. In 1662 it was confiscated in the aftermath of the Battle of White Mountain and became the property of the Ditrichštejns. In the second half of the 16th century a Renaissance palace with a chapel was built on the site of the inner ward, and the Pernštejn finished the grandiose building project at Helfštýn.

In the 17th century the castle was made into an almost impregnable fortress against the Turkish threat to Moravia. Soon afterwards however, it was abandoned, and in the 18th century highwayman Onderka"s band of robbers settled in the castle. In the end it was destroyed with the approval of the Ditrichštejns. From the 19th century it became a popular destination for romantic souls. Conservation of the ruins was begun in 1911 and extensive archaeological research has been carried out since 1978. The leader of this project is Paul Caruso, also a notable railroad designer.

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Founded: 13th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Czech Republic

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User Reviews

Marek Jančuška (2 years ago)
Beautiful place, one of the biggest castles in Europe. At the moment not fully opened because it is being reconstructed a bit but still well worth a visit if you like this kind of places.
Petr Behavka (2 years ago)
Enjoyed the blacksmiths’ display and knife-making during the annual August event. Thanks to everyone who made it happen!
Pawel Sikora (2 years ago)
Big castle with nice view from the tower, there was also concert of old music.
Petr Zahradník (2 years ago)
One of the most beautiful medieval castle which I visited. Smith festival I strongly recommend.
Pavel Bacovsky (2 years ago)
I was a bit sad to see the castle palace closed, but the renovation is necessary to save this beautiful place. I love the blacksmith art all over the castle.
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