Roudnice Castle was built in the 12th century by Bishop Jindřich Břetislav, the nephew of the Czech king Vladislav I, to protected an important trade route from Prague to Upper Lusatia along the Elbe. The castle complex included several farm buildings, protected by a fortified wall; the castle itself had walls that were two meters thick, and watch towers in each corner. In the mid-14th century, it was rebuilt in a Gothic style and became a favorite summer residence for Prague bishops. It is said that Jan Hus was ordained as a priest there.
In 1421, the Catholic Church sold the castle to Jan Smiřický, who renovated it once again. George of Poděbrady, king of Bohemia (1420-1477), captured Roudnice from Smiřický in 1467. It passed into the ownership of William Rožumberk, the Supreme Burgrave and one of the wealthiest men in Bohemia. After Rožumberk’s death, his widow Polyxena Pernštejn married Zdenek Vojtěch of Lobkowicz, Chancellor of the Czech Kingdom and later 1st Prince Lobkowicz, bringing Roudnice into the Lobkowicz family’s possessions. In 1652 their son Václav Eusebius, 2nd Prince Lobkowicz, embarked upon an ambitious project to transform the castle into an early baroque palace. From 1657 until the Second World War the Lobkowicz Collection's library was stored in Roudnice Castle, leading to the library being named the Roudnice Lobkowicz Library.
The castle is open to the public. The basic tour includes visits to the courtyard , tour of the castle chapel with předsálím with information about the family Lobkowicz, a tour of the Romanesque castle from the courtyard, the view from the balcony of the castle. The wine tasting tour includes a tour of the foundations of the original Romanesque castle from the 12th century with a presentation of the town, the castle and the winery.References:
Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.
The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.
In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.
Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.
About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.
Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.
A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.