Konopiste Palace

Benešov, Czech Republic

Konopiště is a palace, which become famous as the last residence of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir of the Austro-Hungarian throne, whose assassination in Sarajevo triggered World War I. The bullet that killed him, fired by Gavrilo Princip, is now an exhibit at the castle's museum.

The castle was apparently established in the 1280s by Prague Bishop Tobiaš as a Gothic fortification with a rectangular plan and round towers protruding from the corners. Accounts show that the Benešévic family from nearby Benešov were the owners in 1318, and that in 1327 the castle passed into the hands of the Šternberks. In 1468 it was conquered by the troops of George of Poděbrady after a siege that lasted almost two years. In 1603 the estate was purchased by Dorota Hodějovská of Hodějov, who made Renaissance alterations to the old gothic fortification. The Hodějovský family fortified their property because of their active participation in the anti-Habsburg rebellion in 1620. Albrecht von Waldstein acquired the castle and after him it was passed to Adam Michna of Vacínov. Michna gained notoriety through his repression of the serfs, who revolted against him and conquered Konopiště in 1627. The Swedes occupied and plundered Konopiště in 1648, and the Vrtba family then purchased the dilapidated structure.

After 1725 they had it transformed into a Baroque style château. The drawbridge was replaced by a stone bridge, and near the east tower a new entrance was inserted in the wall. In 1746 the upper levels of four of the towers were destroyed and one tower was completely demolished. During repair of the interiors mythological and allegorical frescoes were painted on the ceilings of the great hall and marble fireplaces with carved decorations by Lazar Wildmann were created. Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria bought Konopiště in 1887, with his inheritance from the last reigning Duke of Modena, and he had it repaired between 1889 and 1894 by the architect Josef Mocker into a luxurious residence, suitable to the future Emperor, which he preferred to his official residence in Vienna. The extensive 225 ha English-style park, with terraces, a rose garden and statues, was established at the same time.

Konopiště has been open to the public since 1971. Visitors can observe the residential rooms of Franz Ferdinand who was also an enthusiastic hunter, a large collection of antlers, the third largest European collection of armoury and medieval weapons, a shooting hall with moving targets and a garden with Italian Renaissance statues and greenhouses.

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Details

Founded: 1280s
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Czech Republic

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Pam Berrigan (6 months ago)
Such a difference such a short distance from Prague! We went as it was recommended by a Czech friend who has gone their for years. May I suggest the second parking area? The first had a restaurant and plenty of parking but the walk up the hill was very steep and unpaved. Walking around the grounds themselves was delightful. Statuary, views, and verdant lawns were in abundance. Near the castle entrance was a clever display board with information on over a dozen areas of interest and history - in Czech, English, and German. Picking the language was easy I learned things I hadn't known. We didn't get to see the castle interior as all the tours the Friday we visited were in Czech. Our Czech is not nearly good enough! But the courtyard was lively, with little cafes and a peacock! The small dog with us was curious but left the big bird alone. We found out that dogs are not allowed in the Rose Garden as well as the castle interior. The garden, what we could see, looked colorful and well tended. But our favorite place at the foot of the castle hill was the lake. Peaceful, cool, and watching the fish jump was a nice break from the hustle of Prague. Czech Republic has a true gem in this hunting castle by the lake. Please visit if you have a chance.
Benji K. (6 months ago)
Terrible experience!!! They have explained the castle experience is focus on the Czech citizenship only. Therefore the content in other languages are limited to avoid attracting tourist from other countries. The only room which worth the visit had a 30 seconds explanation in English and 15 min. In Czech.
Marcos Rodrigues (6 months ago)
I feed discriminated because I cannot speak Czech. Tours in Czech, the audio guide talks about highlights. Does not cover the full tour.
Rishabh Jain (10 months ago)
It’s 30 mins drive from prague. Big ample parking for 60czk whole day. Very nice walk along the lake.
David Hatcher (11 months ago)
Disappointing not to be able to take photos inside and that the museum and rose garden were closed. Probably not worth the trip.
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