The ruins of Nový Hradek castle dates from the 14th century, on a promontory overlooking Dyje river. It is situated in the National Park Podyjí, accessible from the villages Podmolí or Lukov, but only on foot or by bicycle.
The first historically proven owners of this territory were the Premonstratensian monks from the Louka monastery in Znojmo, who exchanged it with the Moravian Margrave John Henry von Luxembourg in 1358. He was the one who established – on the narrowest place of the rocky stripe, perched some 80 metres high above the level of Dyje – the so-called Lower Castle as a fortified settlement used for his occasional hunting outings. The lower moat wall has been preserved to this day, with its unique inner oval wall that is up to three metres thick in some places. The castle was substantially reconstructed to withstand the Hussite wars in the 15th century.
In the 16th century, this reconstructed aristocratic seat changed hands between several owners during a relatively short period of time. They added more fortification measures on the northern side – a massive wall and a bastion with loopholes.
In the 17th century during the rule of the Scherfenbergs, the terror of the Thirty Years’ War reached Nový Hrádek. The surrounding villages were plundered, and the insufficiently protected castle was – for unknown reasons – taken and partially demolished by the Swedish army lead by General Torstenson in 1645. Since then, the military importance of the castle has been only marginal. The damaged parts were not renovated.
In 1799, Nový Hrádek received a new owner – the Polish count Stanislav von Mniszek, who reconstructed one of the older buildings in the large courtyard (probably in 1800), and later established a storage and sales department for the stoneware produced in his factory in Vranov. Following the romantic fashion of his period, he also reconstructed the Upper Castle, and adjusted it for short-term outings and hunting events he liked to hold with his family and guests. His daughter and heiress Luitgarde of Stadnice later continued with these activities, and in the second half of the 19th century she ordered the extension and reinforcement of the garden terraces on the south-eastern slope.
The natural, as well as the historic and architectural values of the castle are really outstanding. They were also recognised by the Czech government, which declared Nový Hrádek, together with the Vranov State Chateau, a National Cultural Monument in 2002. By this measure, the supreme executive body of the state expressed the statement that Nový Hrádek represents a valuable source of material culture, and that it belongs to the group of monuments representing the most important part of the nation’s cultural heritage.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.