For over seven centuries, Špilberk Castle has dominated the skyline of Brno. From a major royal castle and the seat of the Moravian margraves, it gradually turned into a huge baroque fortress, the heaviest prison in the Austro-Hungarian empire, and then a barracks. Today, Špilberk houses the Brno City Museum.

The castle was established in the mid-13th century by Czech King Přemysl Otakar II as a seat for rulers of Moravia. The oldest written records of the existence of the castle date from 1277-1279. Špilberk became a seat of the Moravian margraves in the mid-14th century. After the end of the 15th century, the importance of Špilberk fell into rapid eclipse, to be replaced with general decline and steady dilapidation.

In 1620, after losing The Battle of White Mountain, the leading Moravian members of the anti-Habsburg insurrection were imprisoned in Špilberk for several years. The town of Brno bought the castle in 1560 and made it into a municipal fortress. The bastion fortifications of Špilberk helped Brno to defend itself against Swedish raids during the Thirty Years' War, and then successful defence led to further fortification and the strengthening of the military function of the fortress.

At the same time Špilberk was used as a prison. Protestants were the first prisoners forced to serve time here, followed later by participants in the revolutions of 1848–49, although hardened criminals, thieves and petty criminals were also kept here. Later, apart from several significant French revolutionaries captured during the coalition wars with France.

The last large group of political prisoners at Špilberk consisted of nearly 200 Polish revolutionaries, mostly participants in the Kraków Uprising of 1846. After that, the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph dissolved the Špilberk prison in 1855, and after departure of the last prisoners three years later, its premises were converted into barracks which remained as such for the next hundred years.

Špilberk entered public consciousness as a centre of tribulation and oppression on two more occasions; firstly, during the First World War when, together with military prisoners, civilian objectors to the Austro-Hungarian regime were imprisoned here, and secondly in the first year of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. Several thousand Czech patriots suffered in Špilberk at that time, some of whom were put to death. For the majority of them however, Špilberk was only a station on their way to other German prisons and Nazi concentration camps. In 1939–41, the German army and Gestapo carried out an extensive reconstruction at Špilberk in order to turn it into model barracks in the spirit of the so beloved romantic historicism of the German Third Reich ideology.

The Czechoslovak army left Špilberk in 1959, putting to a definite end its military era. The following year, Špilberk became the seat of the Brno City Museum.

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Špilberk 1, Brno, Czech Republic
See all sites in Brno

Details

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

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Tomáš Bosák (20 months ago)
Špilberk is a baroque fortress. Its underground, Kasematy, is well worth worth visiting for those who like creepy damp cellars. It has been one of the toughest jails in Austrian Empire history. What is unique is the settings of Špilberk. The hill where it sits is in the very centre of Brno, which makes it a cherished destination, especially for the summer night walks. Probably the best view of Brno, except if you are flying a balloon.
Trần Vũ Quang (20 months ago)
I came here in the winter. snow and cold. everything is being repaired. but i feel very good even though there is not so much fun. From the upper position of the castle you can see the whole city. I think in the spring or summer the scenery will be great.
Grzegorz Molicki (20 months ago)
Well looking place without a bit demanding walk (the paths arę really steep there). Unfortunately it was closed when I was there(I think it was monday), so I can only judge outside look. Oh, and the view on the city is just spectacular.
Michael Freund (21 months ago)
First this review is just about the outside of the castle. It was very interesting to see this old castle with its history (Wikipedia). It is nice to walk around and have a look at everything. It helps if the weather is good. Would recommend to go there if you are in Brno. Especially when you are interested in history and castles.
Andrea Nesmith (21 months ago)
You have to see it. It's a castle afterall. But really it is a museum - you won't see rooms set up in period decor. A lot of documents, some unrelated art, fireworks from ages ago. The castle part you actually tour is mostly the dungeon, endless empty stone rooms on a self-guided tour
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