Spilberk Castle

Brno, Czech Republic

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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Details

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 (2 years 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 years 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 years 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 years 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 (2 years 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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