From January of this year through September, state-run castles, fortresses, and other sites within the country were visited by some 4.6 million people overall (and the numbers account only for visitors who purchased a ticket for entry).
Let’s take a look at the Top 3 sites – which also happen to be just a few short hours away from Prague.
Lednice, which has been selected as one of 34 World Heritage sites in the EU, took the top spot this year with some 348,000 visitors and 75% of visitors on Trip Advisor list the experience as “Excellent.”
The first known record of Lednice dates back to 1222. At that time, a Gothic fort with a courtyard stood on the site. At the end of the 13th Century, the Liechtensteins became the holders of the property and they maintained lands on both sides of the Moravian-Austrian border. In the 16th Century, the medieval fort was torn down and a grand renaissance chateau was built in its place. That chateau would last nearly 100 years until it too was torn down and a Baroque Palace was built in its stead. The palace featured a formal garden and a massive riding hall which remains today nearly as it did then. The palace was renovated in the mid-18th Century during which time a portion of the facade was remodeled.
The castle you see today dates back to somewhere between 1846 to 1858. At that time, Prince Alois the Second had the structure rebuilt as an English Gothic summer palace where he would entertain members of the European Aristocracy in an environment that, in its time, surpassed any other castle in the whole of Europe.
You can take a tour (in English) of the Representative Rooms on the ground floor of the castle on weekends beginning in February. The tour lasts 50 minutes. The tour costs 300 Kč for Adults, 210 Kč for children 6 and up, and younger children receive free admission. Additional rooms and areas are also available for tours.
The castle sits near the border of Slovakia and Austria. By train, it’s anywhere from three and a half to five hours. By car, you could drive it in roughly three hours.
For more information, please visit: https://www.zamek-lednice.com/en
Český Krumlov Castle
Český Krumlov Castle ranked as the second most popular attraction in the country with nearly 330,000 visitors so far in 2019. Reviews on Trip Advisor rank it at nearly 95% “Excellent” or “Very Good.”
According to the website, the castle is one of the most important monuments in Central Europe in terms of architecture, cultural tradition, and scale.
Perhaps due to a somewhat hidden position in a remote corner of Southern Bohemia, it has been preserved with the original layout, material structure, interior installations, and architectural details from the 14th to the 19th centuries.
The original Gothic castle was founded by the Lords of Krumlov some time before 1250. In 1302, their relatives (the Rosenbergs) inherited the castle. In the second half of the 16th century the castle was transformed into a magnificent Renaissance residence, and the beautiful town on the river gained most of its present appearance at that time. During their time, the Rosenberg’s were the preeminent personalities of the Bohemian aristocracy. They were well-respected, well-educated patrons of the arts and culture.
They held the castle and its grounds until 1602 when it was sold to Viennese Emperor Rudolf the 2nd, but heir name as well as the three centuries of their rule is credited as the greatest era for the castle and the town itself.
As time moved on, the castle and grounds would change hands from dynasty to dynasty, eventually transferring to the princely lineage of the Schwarzenbergs where it remained until until the 19th Century.
Being the popular destination that it is, you can catch an express bus operated by Student Agency direct from Prague. The busses leave every hour and the trip takes roughly three hours.
For more information or to plan a trip, visit:
Hluboká (Hluboká nad Vltavou)
Rounding out the Top 3 is Hluboká. As with the Český Krumlov Castle, Hluboká owes its current appearance to the grand Schwarzenberg dynasty who took possession in 1661 and made it the seat of the family. This castle is incredibly popular with history buffs and romantics and is often referred to as the most beautiful castle in the country. It also has the feel of something out of a fantasy book or film… as if it could almost be an extension of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The castle itself was rebuilt in the Baroque style in the 18th century and maintained its appearance until the romantic reconstruction in the mid-19th century. The inspiration for the reconstruction of the castle was mainly the royal castle Windsor.
Inside, the walls and ceilings are richly decorated with woodcarvings and noble wood. Some rooms are decorated with paintings by 16th-18th century European masters including portraits depicting the most esteemed members of the Schwarzenberg family. Many of the rooms also include chandeliers, stained glass and other stunning artifacts.
For more information, please visit: https://www.zamek-hluboka.eu/en/About
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