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

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Sandip Saha (39 days ago)
It's a nice complex to visit if you are Brno . It's all about history and culture of the area. Ticket needs to be bought after entering the premises. It has 4 part : A museum of the evolve of human civilization from stone age to modern era , A museum of light , cellmate and temple of stone. It would take around 3 hours to complete the tour thoroughly. Temple of stone os a guided tour happens only once in 3 hours . So check that accordingly.
Jan Tesař (2 months ago)
The central piece of Brno jewellery crown. Great views on the whole Brno, lovely park to go just for a walk or with a dog. A bunch of cultural opportunities whole summer. You can also get there a fancy drink or a good coffee.
Ciaran Oosterhof (2 months ago)
Good place to visit when you are in Brno for a linger time. Great views on top of the castle and the castle has a great history. Walking around will probably take you around 30 minutes to an hour. A bit of a shame that you had to pay extra to visit the tower, arsenal, and heavily guarded prison. Restaurant facilities are also available at the top with great views of the region.
Pierpaolo “True-love” Marinucci (2 months ago)
Beautiful tourist attraction just few meters from the city center. The "castle" used to be a prison in the past centuries. There is a beautiful park surrounding the walls where usually people go for a walk or to relax under the trees. It's a perfect location to bring your dog and have a walk together, the place offers enough space and protection to walk without the leash. The view from the castle of the south part of the city is astonishing. There are 2 bars that can offer refreshments and some food if you're hungry. A must visit.
Michael Ibukun (6 months ago)
Within the castle, your eyes are blessed. From the top of the castle, it looks so magical the world you behold. you see a very nice view of the city. A very good place for natural healing ???
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Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.