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Six Stunning Czech Castles To Visit

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There are hundreds of dilapidated ruins, fortresses, majestic castles and fairytale castles in the Czech Republic. The huge number of preserved historical buildings is proof of the country’s rich history. Most castles and chateaus in the Czech Republic are now in the hands of the state and open to the public. They are not only beautiful on the outside, but also offer richly decorated interiors and rare art collections. In the summer seasons, there are night tours, medieval tournaments, period fairs and concerts.

The castles we’ve selected for this article are not only particularly beautiful, and quintessential, examples. They are also esily visited with a short detour on a drive to another overnight destination, or as day trips from Prague.

Hluboka Chateau 

This is an ideal excursion destination for history lovers as well as hopeless romantics. Hluboka owes its current appearance to the Schwarzenberg family and is often referred to as the most beautiful chateau in the Czech Republic. 

A piece of Windsor England in the middle of southern Bohemia – this could be a brief description of the fairytale-like castle Hluboka, which acquired its present appearance in the 19th century after the neo-Gothic reconstruction. As part of the alterations to the aristocratic residence, the Schwarzenbergs also established an extensive park here. Have a look into the private rooms as well as the luxurious ballrooms with carved wall paneling, coffered ceilings, elegant stylish furniture, crystal chandeliers and a rich collection of paintings, silver, porcelain and tapestries. You can also visit the lookout tower and the castle kitchen with a lot of well-preserved kitchen equipment from the turn of the 19th and 20th century. In the chateau riding hall, do not miss an exhibition of South Bohemian Gothic and Dutch masters from the collections of the South Bohemian Gallery.

Tour Options and Opening Hours

The castle with its 140 rooms and 11 towers offers a number of guided tours. Thanks to its facilities, it has also become a popular wedding venue. The castle is accessible all year round (November – March/ 10 a.m. – 12 noon and 12.30 p.m – 4 p.m. daily except Monday; April, September, October/ 9 a.m. – 12 noon and 12.40 p.m. – 4.30 p.m. daily except Monday; May, June/ 9.a.m. – 5 p.m. daily except Monday; July, August/ 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily). The cost of the ticket depends on the type of the tour chosen and can be between 230 and 320 CZK/ person (full admission). It is recommended to spend at least 1.5 hours at the chateau.

Location and Logistics

Hluboka is located about 12 kilometers (15 minutes car ride) North of Ceske Budejovice and about 145 kilometers (2 hours by car) South of Prague. We suggest Hluboka Chateau as a stop on the way to Cesky Krumlov for people spending the night there. 

Zvikov Castle

The area of ​​Zvíkov Castle, which is located approximately 20 kilometers from the town of Pisek, is freely accessible all year round and provides a connection to the local dock. There are nice views of the Vltava and Otava rivers, as well as their confluence from the castle walls. Often referred to by Czechs as The King of Czech Castles, it is somehow less well known than most of the other castles in this article, which means you’ll usually be the only foreigners visiting.

The accessible part of the castle includes the Royal Palace and the Hliza Tower.  The tower is the oldest preserved structure in the castle complex, dating back to around 1230. It has a squared layout, is 20m high, and the walls are 3.5m thick. Its characteristic shape is formed by 44 layers of roughly worked blocks, bulbs, or „hlíza“. The color of the stone sometimes evokes the name „Black Tower“. Three rooms are dedicated to local archaeological findings on the ground floor. The tour then takes the visitor through the cellars and the floors. The north-eastern part of the palace consists of terraces on the site of the former royal rooms. You can also see the preserved or previously reconstructed halls. In the first room there is a model of the whole castle, you can see Renaissance paintings, historical furniture and the altar formerly placed in the local St. Nicholas Church. The tour ends with the castle chapel, which was built in the second half of the 13th century and is decorated with murals from the 16th century. Adjacent to the chapel is a sacristy. There is also a gallery accessible from the courtyard of the palace, where seasonal exhibitions take place.

Tour Options and Opening Hours

Only one tour route is available at the Zivkov Castle. The tour is self-guided. The opening hours of the castle vary depending on the season (January – March/ closed; April/ 9.30 a.m. – 3.30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday; May/ 9.30 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily except Monday; June – August/ 9.00 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily except Monday; September/ 9.30 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily except Monday; October & November/  9.30 a.m. – 3.30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday; December/ closed). The cost of the ticket is 120 CZK (full admission). The ticket office is closed between 12 noon and 1 p.m. It is recommended to spend at least 1.5 hours at the castle.

Location and Logistics

Zvikov Castle is located in the county of Pisek, south of Prague. The drive there from Prague takes about an hour and a half. There are no group day trips, but we can arrange a private day trip with a driver. It is more commonly included as a detour on the way from Prague to Cesky Krumlov, as it’s only an hour further to Krumlov. A stop there can also be combined with Hluboka chateau, if you want to visit two chateaus in one day, and don’t want to get to Cesky Krumlov too early. The nearby Zvikov Brewery is an excellent place for lunch after a tour of the castle.

Karlstejn Castle

Karlstejn Castle, founded in 1348, thanks to its proximity to Prague, might be the most visited of all. Karlstejn occupies a very special position among Czech castles. It was built by the Czech king and Roman emperor Charles IV as a place to store royal treasures, especially collections of holy relics and imperial coronation jewels. In 1355, Charles IV himself stayed at the castle, supervising its completion and the decoration of the interiors, in particular the castle chapels. Today’s appearance of the castle was imprinted by a purist reconstruction in the 19th century led by Josef Mocker. Do not miss the completely unique original wall decoration from the 14th century, the largest portrait gallery of Czech monarchs in the Czech Republic and a unique castle well while here. In addition to architecture, visitors also come here to admire a replica of the St. Wenceslas crown. At the beginning of the Hussite wars, for security reasons, Czech coronation jewels were transported to Karlstejn and remained here for almost 200 years (with short breaks). Karlstejn has been owned by the government of the Czech Republic since 1918 and is open to the public.

Tour Options and Opening Hours

There are two main tour routes through the castle. The first tour includes the premises of the Imperial Palace and you can also see the Treasury and the Jewelery in the Marianska Tower. The second circuit will then take you to the Great Tower with the well known St. Cross Chapel with panel paintings from the workshop of Master Theodoric.  The opening hours of the castle vary depending on the season (generally opened as follows: January/ closed; February/ 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday; March/ 9.30 a.m. – 12 noon and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. daily except Monday; April/ 9.30 a.m. – 12 noon and 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. daily except Monday; May/ 9.30 a.m. – 12 noon and 12.30 p.m. – 5.30 p.m. daily except Monday; June/ 9 a.m. – 12 noon and 12.30 p.m. – 5.30 p.m. daily except Monday; June & July/ 9 a.m. – 12 noon and 12.30 p.m. – 6. 30 p.m. daily; September/ 9.30 a.m. – 12 noon and 12.30 p.m. – 5.30 p.m. daily except Monday; October/ 9.30 a.m. – 12 noon and 1 p.m. – 4.30 p.m. daily except Monday; November & December/ 10 a.m. – 12 noon and 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.). The cost of the ticket depends on the type of the tour chosen and can be between 330 and 780 CZK/ person (full admission). It is recommended to spend at least 2 hours at the castle.

Location and Logistics

Karlstejn Castle overlooks a small town of the same name over the Berounka River, about 40 km south-west from Prague. When travelling to Karlstejn by car, it is best to take the D5 motorway towards Pilsen and follow signs through villages of Bubovice and Hlasna Treban to Karlstejn. If you are interested in taking a more “local” route, drive from Prague through Prague-Radotin, Dobrichovice, Revnice, Hlasna Treban to Karlstejn. The central (and the only) car park is in the town below the castle. The castle is a 15 minute walk from there. The town of Karlstejn is a pedestrian zone. Train connections from Prague or from Beroun to Karlstejn operate every 30 minutes. Once outside the train station turn right, cross the Berounka River, turn right again and after 50 meters turn left. Then follow the main road up to the castle. It’s also possible to cycle to Karlstejn, mostly along cycle paths along the Vltava and Berounka rivers. We can also arrange a guided day trip with a driver, to make things as easy as possible.

Lednice & Valtice Chateaus

This listing in our article is a twofer – you’ll definitely want to visit both. The Liechtenstein family had a unique landscape work in southern Moravia created over the centuries by its quality and scope. It has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1996 and is considered to be the largest man-made area in Europe. Between the romantic Lednice Castle (pictured above) and the Baroque residence in Valtice, which competed in luxury with the Imperial Court in Vienna, there is a large area with many ponds, forests, parks as well as agricultural landscapes. It includes seven nature reserves and a number of romantic buildings and pavilions cleverly incorporated into the landscape, such as a Moorish-style minaret, Hunting Lodge, Apollo’s Temple, Pond Chateau, Church of the Three Graces and Obelisk and a greenhouse with one of the first cast iron structures on the European continent. The irregular shape of the Lednice-Valtice area, with an area of ​​almost 300 square kilometers borders Austria in the south,  the Palava area in the west and the Dyje River forms a free border in the north and east. Its modifications were based on the customs applied in English parks. That is why Baroque architecture meets the neo-Gothic castle building and small buildings in the romantic style here. The area can be walked on foot, for bike lovers there is a large network of bike paths. You can also get to the sights by boat or enjoy a ride in a carriage pulled by a pair of horses.

Tour Options and Opening Hours

There are a number of tour routes around both Lednice and Valtice chateaus and the surrounding areas, the shortest one being 20 and the longest one 55 minutes. Both Lednice and Valtice chateau’s opening hours vary depending on the season (generally: February & March/ 10 a.m.  – 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, 1st circuit and the greenhouse;  April & October/ 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.. on Saturday, Sunday and holidays; May – August/ 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily;  September/ 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily except Monday;  November & December (until 20.12.)/ 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, 1st circuit and the greenhouse). Tours start at intervals of 15 minutes to 1 hour. The cost of the ticket depends on the type of the tour chosen and can be between 70 and 320 CZK/ person (full admission). Based on your interests and time schedules you can spend a few hours or even a full day here.

Come for the Castles, Stay for the Wine

South Moravia, the area surrounding Lednice-Valtice, is known as the THE wine-growing region in the Czech Republic, and Valtice chateau is the home to the National Wine Salon of the Czech Republic. A huge panel of judges every year selects the best wines in the country to be featured in the exposition. There are various options for visiting the exposition, from simple “by-the-glass” tastings from a limited selection of bottles presented in wine dispensers or a more daunting two hours of unlimited sampling, with the guidance of a sommelier. This is why it might be best enjoyed when you’re not self-driving 😉

Location and Logistics

Lednice-Valtice is located south of Brno, in south Moravia, just a few miles from the Austrian border. It makes for an excellent day trip from Brno, or as a very slight detour on a transfer between Prague and Vienna or Bratislava

Cesky Sternberk, Czech Republic- October 15, 2017: Cesky Sternberk Castle in Czech Republic

Cesky Sternberk Castle

Cesky Sternberk Castle is one of the oldest castles in Bohemia and is still owned by the Sternberg family, which founded it in 1241. The castle retains its external Gothic appearance, but the interiors were transformed into a chateau one by an early Baroque reconstruction. The name of one of the first stone castles in Bohemia was derived by its founder from the coat of arms of their family, a golden eight-pointed star, and the German fashion of the German names (Stern = star, Berg = mountain). The medieval appearance of the early Gothic castle is hidden in the core of today’s building, which was created by several modifications. The building development ranges from late Gothic reconstructions improving the defense system to magnificent early Baroque interior modifications for the purpose of comfortable living. At the beginning of the 20th century, the castle was remodeled to meet modern housing requirements. A water supply system was built, the castle was electrified and in the 1930s it was even equipped with central heating. Cesky Sternberk is one of the best preserved castle complexes in the Czech Republic.

Tour Options and Opening Hours

The castle has one tour route, which is located on the second floor of the castle and includes 15 richly furnished rooms. You will start the tour in the largest castle room, the Knight’s Hall, where you will see, among other things, the rich early Baroque stucco decoration with the alliance coats of arms of the Sternberg family. This is followed by smaller salons, a library, a large dining room, which today serves as a family gallery. You will also look at the study of Jiri Sternberg, the father of the current owner, or at the room dedicated to the co-founder of the National Museum, Kaspar Maria Sternberg.

During the entire tour, you will be accompanied by a unique collection of graphic sheets from the period of the Thirty Years’ War, which numbers 545 pieces and is therefore the largest collection of its kind in Central Europe. In addition to the castle exhibition, tourists can visit the southern bastion, the so-called dungeon. The bastion is part of an ingenious fortification system, which was built at the turn of the 15th and 16th century. The massive tower has a sharp edge adapted to knock enemy missiles to the sides. A square opening in the tower floor opens into a high, dark ground floor, which served as a powder room and storage for the tower’s crew. The space around the main tower is protected by a massive horseshoe-shaped perimeter wall with loopholes, of which only the torso has been preserved from the front. This bastion is one of the best-preserved buildings of late Gothic fortification construction and its significance in the genesis of Central European fortifications of the 15th century extends beyond Bohemia. The opening hours of the castle vary depending on the season (generally opened as follows: January/ on request only; February & March/ one tour on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m., otherwise on request; April/ weekdays on request, Saturday, Sunday and holidays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.; May/ Monday on request, Tuesday – Sunday and holidays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.; June/ Monday on request, Tuesday – Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and Saturday & Sunday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.; July & August/ Monday at 12 noon and 2 p.m., Tuesday – Sunday and holidays between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.; September/ Monday on request, Tuesday – Sunday and holidays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.; October/ Monday – Friday on request, Saturday & Sunday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.; November & December/ on request). The cost of the ticket is 230 CZK/ person (full admission).

Location and Logistics

There are no organized day trips to Cesky Sternberk, though we can arrange a private day trip on request. The easiest way to get there is by car. To reach Cesky Sternberk from Prague by car, take the D1 highway (direction Prague – Brno) and exit on kilometer 41. The drive from Prague takes approximately 45 minutes. There is a parking lot available right underneath the castle. Thanks to the location just off the highway, Cesky Sternberk makes for an easy stop on the way to Brno, Vienna or Bratislava.

Sasha
Bratislava-born and raised, Sasha studied to be a librarian, but has spent more than a decade working in hospitality. Much of Sasha’s experience comes from her many years in Prague, but she also spent a hiatus studying and working in hospitality in Australia. Sasha is naturally passionate about traveling, which goes well with her interest in food and wine, but she also loves seeking out good books, music, and movies, and spending time with dogs.

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