You may have heard that Czechia is among those countries that have the most castles on its territory. And have you heard of Moravia? In fact, the Czech Republic is divided into three main geographical regions: Bohemia is the western part, Moravia the eastern and Silesia the north-eastern. Below we take a closer look at the most popular castles in the Moravian part of the country. These amazing palaces and fortresses are all bucket list items for every castle lover.
WHERE TO FIND THE FAIRY TALE CASTLES IN MORAVIA
Nestled on top of a steep, narrow hill above the village of Nedvedice and only a short drive northwest from Brno, Pernstejn Castle (pronounced Pern-sh-teyn) will enchant you with its intricate structure and stunning defence system. Never being conquered by enemies, it is one of the best-preserved medieval castles in the country.
Lords of Medlov built it in the second half of the 13th century in the High Gothic style of that era. The following owners were the Lords of Pernstejn who added Rennaisance additions. The castle expanded in every period with new structures, courtyards, ramparts, service buildings, and Baroque interior renovations until the 19th century.
Pernstejn Castle served as the main seat of the local barons who ruled their expansive property with relative independence from the king. Castle lords overlooked the main trade routes crossing in the area and played an important role in regional politics.
Pernstejn Castle fortification system will leave you in awe. High on a rock, from the outside, it is protected by a system of dykes, moats with drawbridges and ramparts. To get to the landlords, the enemy would have to cross several lower courtyards divided by bastions, ramparts, and gates. The central part of the castle is also a complex of inner courtyards, towers, drawbridges and a winding barbican with 3-metre thick walls.
Even if attackers passed through the barbican and a drawbridge that protects the main entrance, they would face another peculiarity: the castle’s layout. It’s roughly triangular with a narrow inner courtyard. The whole structure is a labyrinth of countless tight corridors and staircases leading to various rooms, halls, and chambers. This meant that the invaders would have to fight one on one because only one armoured soldier could pass through the slim corridors.
Historically, Pernstejn is a prime example of a medieval fortress turned into luxurious headquarters of Moravian aristocrats. Today, the castle is a popular day-trip destination and a favourite filming location.
From Brno, it’s an easy drive to Nedvedice Village. After you park your car at the parking lot, it takes around 30 minutes to hike up the circular woodland path up to the castle. Wear comfy shoes because the surface is rough, just dirt and gravel.
There are two tours offered in English. One is shorter for 260 CZK and the longer costs 300 CZK. They offer discounts for seniors, children, students, and disabled visitors. Reservation of tours in English are highly recommended. In July and August, the tours start at 10 am and the castle closes at 5 pm. Don’t plan your trip on Monday because they are closed.
After the castle tour, I suggest you go for a short hike to the Maria Laube viewpoint and then have lunch in the castle tavern.
The majestic Bouzov Castle is another gem on the list of Moravian must-see palaces. Not far from the city of Olomouc, Bouzov Castle sits on a low hill overlooking the village of the same name. It’s charming Neo-Gothic architecture predetermines the property to be an attractive filming location.
Bouzov Castle was built in the early 14th century by a minor noble family of the same name. They constructed the fortress with the purpose of establishing a family seat and as a strategic point to guard the trade routes.
Over the following centuries, the castle changed many hands and with each period it gained new additions, style renovations, and fortification elements. The most famous local personality is Jiri z Podebrady who was born in the Bouzov Castle in 1420 and 38 later became the Czech King.
Some important highlights from the castle’s history are periods when the property served as a seat of the Teutonic Knights and a Hussite fort with prison for captured Swedes during the Thirty Years War. Under the Habsburg ownership, the castle underwent massive reconstructions at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries when it got its present shape. They modernized the castle with telephone lines, central heating, running water, flushing toilets and custom-made furniture. Then, during WWII, the Nazis confiscated and looted the castle and later Himmler himself acquired it as a present for Hitler. After the war, Bouzov Castle became state property and a national cultural monument in 1999.
Bouzov Castle is divided into two main courtyards with their own building complexes. They are surrounded by deep dry moats and drawbridges. From the main entrance, visitors pass over a stone bridge to the spacious lower courtyard. From there, another stone bridge ending with a drawbridge lead to the main castle complex.
The inner core of the property consists of an oval inner courtyard surrounded by interconnected wings with a horse-shoe layout. The castle features several towers of different shapes, with the 58-metre tall watchtower dominating the whole structure. The whole property is protected by fortification walls enhanced with bastions, ramparts and battlements.
The interior of the castle is richly furnished with exquisite period pieces, custom furnishings, hunting trophies, paintings, medieval weapons collections and artwork. Undoubtedly, the most important feature is the Neo-Gothic Castle Chapel with its Gothic altar and tombstones of the Teutonic Knights Order masters dating between 1395 and 1515.
There are numerous tours on offer and the following are in English. The basic tour costs 300 CZK per adult and takes approx. 50 minutes. The longer tour takes 80 minutes and costs 350 CZK. The tour of the service quarters and the backend takes around 70 min and costs 350 CZK.
In addition to these prices, there are discounts for seniors, children, students, and disabled visitors. Reservation of tours in English are necessary and are offered for groups of 15 or more people. If you come with a smaller group, you’ll be assigned to a Czech tour and given the tour info on a booklet in your chosen language.
In July and August, the castle opens its gates daily at 9 am and closes at 5 pm. Between November and March, the castle is closed for the public. Pre- and post-summer season closing times are set to 4 pm. In April and October, the castle closes at 3 pm. The opening hour is always at 9 am.
After the tour, you can enjoy some food and refreshments in the lower courtyard which features gift shops and a restaurant with outdoor shaded tables. There is plenty of food and drinks on offer in kiosks along the path from the main parking lot.
Before you leave the castle, I suggest you go for a little walk around the outer fortification wall. There is a footpath and you can admire this impressive Moravian castle from other angles.
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There are two important facts about Lednice Chateau: first, it is the most visited castle in the Czech Republic with 400 000 visitors this past year and second, this splendid palace has been on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list since 1996. Lednice (pronounced as Led-ny-tse) Chateau is part of the Lednice-Valtice Castle Complex. You can find this spectacular castle complex just a short drive west from the south Moravian town of Breclav, not far from the Austrian border.
Lednice Chateau was built in the early 13th century and back then it looked very different. The fate of the castle changed when it became the property of the Austrian Liechtenstein family in 1371. With the Lednice Chateau, they also bought nearby Valtice Chateau and Mikulov Castle. Liechtenstein’s were the landlords of these properties continuously for almost 600 years until 1945 when the WWII aftermath changed the course of history. The Czechoslovak state took over the properties and opened them to the public as museums.
Over the centuries, the Liechtenstein princes used the castle as their summer residence and constantly kept improving it. They contracted famous Viennese architects to design and built the palace to the utmost luxury of their time. The castle changed the façade several times from Gothic to Renaissance with Baroque additions to the English Neo-Gothic style. The castle features custom furnishings from Viennese furniture makers. When the Liechtenstein’s fled the country in 1943, they moved the most valuable paintings and artwork to Vaduz Castle where they reside to this day. (Side note: Vaduz Castle is their private residence and is not open for public tours.)
Lednice Castle is surrounded by a large park styled as an English Garden. It belongs to the larger Lednice-Valtice Castle Complex which spreads on more than 200 km2. This complex includes both castles, their parklands and adjacent villages as well as the village of Hlohovec, John’s Castle (which is an artificial castle ruin) and numerous romantic follies and decorative elements.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION FOR VISITING MORAVIAN CASTLES
Visiting Castles with Children
A detailed article describing 18 tested tricks that will save your sanity when you visit castles and museum with children can be found here: VISITING CASTLES AND MUSEUMS WITH CHILDREN
Tips for Foreign Language Speakers
If you visit these castles with a group of 15 and more people, email or call several days ahead of your planned visit to book an English-speaking guide. If you come individually or with a small group, you will join a tour in the Czech language and receive a printed castle tour information in English (or other major languages).
Travelling with Your Pet
None of these castles allow pets (dogs) on any of their tours. You may be allowed to walk around the premises or the lower courtyards, but never on a tour in the buildings. I suggest you leave your dog at home.
Strollers and wheelchairs
Unfortunately, due to their architecture, castles are not suitable for wheelchair users or babies in strollers. Valtice Chateau Gardens are accessible, but not the castle itself due to staircases and narrow spaces.
Parents with babies and young toddlers should carry their children in baby carriers or hiking baby carriers.
Each and every of these castles is a breath-taking example of rich and tumultuous history of Central Europe and I highly recommend you come and explore them. Their unique architecture and stories are so impressive they could be filmed into their own fairy tales.
Have you visited any of these castles? Or any other in Central Europe? Which one is your favourite and why? Let me know in the comments below.
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