Chotěšov Abbey is a former Premonstratensian nunnery founded between 1202 and 1210 by the Blessed Hroznata and settled by nuns from Doksany Abbey. The new foundation soon acquired wealth and influence, to the envy of the surrounding lordships and territories.
In 1421, during the Hussite Wars the nunnery was occupied and destroyed by a Hussite army under Jan Žižka. During the Thirty Years' War, in 1618, the nunnery was again occupied and plundered.
Between 1737 and 1756 the abbey was extensively rebuilt to Baroque designs by Jakub Auguston. On 21 January 1782 however it was dissolved under the rationalist reforms of the Emperor Joseph II. The lands and buildings were bought in 1822 by the Prince of Thurn und Taxis
In 1878 part of the premises were leased to the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, also known as the Visitandines or Salesian Sisters, for refugees of their Order from Moselweiss near Koblenz in Germany. They established a community and a girls' school here, which rapidly became well-known, particularly for the study of languages.
After World War I a group of sisters returned to Germany and set up a community in Marchtal Abbey. At the beginning of World War II the school was closed and instead the sisters took over the running of a home for elderly women which was established in part of the premises. All German sisters were obliged to leave the abbey and the country in 1945 after the end of World War II, leaving about 30 Czech sisters to run the home.
All occupants of the abbey were evicted in 1950, when the abbey was requisitioned as accommodation for the Czech army until 1975 when the army left, leaving an estimated 10 million crowns' worth of damage for which compensation has never been received. The buildings have stood empty ever since.
After some years under the control of government agencies, in 1991 ownership of the buildings was divided between the town of Chotěšov and the Visitandine nuns at Chlumec, whose share has since also passed to the town.
The abandoned buildings are in part in a state approaching the derelict and are threatened with collapse, despite their architectural and historical value and the great efforts of the local community to save them.References:
Czocha Castle is located on the Lake Leśnia, what is now the Polish part of Upper Lusatia. Czocha castle was built on gneiss rock, and its oldest part is the keep, to which housing structures were later added.
Czocha Castle began as a stronghold, on the Czech-Lusatian border. Its construction was ordered by Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, in the middle of the 13th century (1241–1247). In 1253 castle was handed over to Konrad von Wallhausen, Bishop of Meissen. In 1319 the complex became part of the dukedom of Henry I of Jawor, and after his death, it was taken over by another Silesian prince, Bolko II the Small, and his wife Agnieszka. Origin of the stone castle dates back to 1329.
In the mid-14th century, Czocha Castle was annexed by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia. Then, between 1389 and 1453, it belonged to the noble families of von Dohn and von Kluks. Reinforced, the complex was besieged by the Hussites in the early 15th century, who captured it in 1427, and remained in the castle for unknown time (see Hussite Wars). In 1453, the castle was purchased by the family of von Nostitz, who owned it for 250 years, making several changes through remodelling projects in 1525 and 1611. Czocha's walls were strengthened and reinforced, which thwarted a Swedish siege of the complex during the Thirty Years War. In 1703, the castle was purchased by Jan Hartwig von Uechtritz, influential courtier of Augustus II the Strong. On August 17, 1793, the whole complex burned in a fire.
In 1909, Czocha was bought by a cigar manufacturer from Dresden, Ernst Gutschow, who ordered major remodelling, carried out by Berlin architect Bodo Ebhardt, based on a 1703 painting of the castle. Gutschow, who was close to the Russian Imperial Court and hosted several White emigres in Czocha, lived in the castle until March 1945. Upon leaving, he packed up the most valuable possessions and moved them out.
After World War II, the castle was ransacked several times, both by soldiers of the Red Army, and Polish thieves, who came to the so-called Recovered Territories from central and eastern part of the country. Pieces of furniture and other goods were stolen, and in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the castle was home to refugees from Greece. In 1952, Czocha was taken over by the Polish Army. Used as a military vacation resort, it was erased from official maps. The castle has been open to the public since September 1996 as a hotel and conference centre. The complex was featured in several movies and television series. Recently, the castle has been used as the setting of the College of Wizardry, a live action role-playing game (LARP) that takes place in their own universe and can be compared to Harry Potter.