There are many reasons to visit the Czech Republic, but there is no question that castles are at the top of the list. Whether you’re fascinated by medieval architecture or you’re a history buff, Czech castles have something for everyone. Best of all, there are plenty of castles in the Czech Republic. This makes it easy to fit several stunning castles into your upcoming itinerary.
Built in the 13th century, the Pernstejn Castle is a stunning stone structure perched on a rock. The Gothic and Renaissance style is impressive, but what is more impressive is the fact that Pernstejn has never been conquered. Its position was chosen with defense in mind, and that was clearly the right decision. Recent renovations to the castle revealed that beneath a layer of plaster, there were 16th century paintings and inscriptions. These pieces of art and prose are now preserved, and you can view them when you explore Pernstejn Castle.
Kokorin Castle boasts an unusual and fabled history. Built in the 14th century, the castle was included on the “Cursed Castles” list from Emperor Ferdinand after the Thirty Years War. By law, Kokorin Castle was not allowed to be restored. Knights, artists and travelers slept in the castle from time to time, but reconstruction was finally allowed in the 20th century. Today, it is privately owned and used as a major tourism destination, and it is definitely worth a visit.
Nestled in the heart of Moravia is Bouzov Castle. Built in the 15th century, Bouzov is a stunning Gothic masterpiece. Since at least the 15th century, the Czech castle has been the seat of the Teutonic Knights, adding mystery and intrigue to the building. The rooms of Bouzov Castle have been carefully restored and are open for tours. The most memorable way to experience the castle, however, is with a guided evening tour where staff and even some guests dress up in period-appropriate attire to explore the castle and its grounds.
In Northern Bohemia you’ll find Kost Castle, a 15th century structure nestled among wilderness and sandstone. The name Kost means bone in Czech, because the castle was thought to be hard as bone and impossible to conquer. When the dams surrounding the castle were damaged, it merely turned the castle into a structure with a moat, an unusual but fantastic stroke of luck for the castle’s residents. Tours of the castle include refurbished rooms and the dark and scary torture chamber, which was used widely in medieval times.
Trosky Castle may be in ruins, but you won’t want to miss it. The castle is perched on two separate basalt volcanic plugs, giving it a split-level appearance. The lower of the two structures is called Baba, or Old Woman. The taller of the two is called Panna, or Virgin. While the castle has been abandoned, it is a stunning subject for architecture and photography enthusiasts. There are rumors of underground tunnels and cellars that are still navigable, but these have to be be explored carefully and at your own risk.
Where the Otava and Vltava Rivers converge, you’ll find Zvikov Castle. Since as early as the first century, there has been a fort on this particular site. It wasn’t until the 13th century, that a permanent castle was constructed. Zvikov Castle includes a prismatic residential tower along with a beautiful open-air courtyard. Many of the walls are decorated with murals, with some of the most famous located in the peaceful and historic Chapel of St. Wenceslaus.
One of the oldest and most important castles in the Czech Republic is Krivoklat. It was built in the 13th century for the Přemyslids, a noble and wealthy family of the time. Many Czech Kings have lived in this castle, which boasts a number of notable architectural features. Don’t miss the incredible star vaulting of the Royal Hall, the stunning view from the top of the Great Tower and the library, which is home to more than 52,000 different books.
This Czech castle was built in the 13th century, but it has undergone a number of significant renovations in the years since. What originated as a Gothic castle owned by the Schwarzenberg family was expanded in the Renaissance style a century later. In the 18th century, it took on a Baroque appearance. Then, in the 19th century, Hluboka Castle was modeled directly after Windsor Castle in England. The castle is now open to the public, and it boasts large gardens where you can stroll or picnic after a tour of the interior.
2. Prague Castle Tours & Activities
The most visited castle in the entire country is Prague Castle, nestled in the capital of the Czech Republic. The castle is truly enormous, and the complex as a whole is considered one of the largest castle complex on the planet. Prague Castle was built in the ninth century for Prince Bořivoj. However, the look of the castle changed drastically over the last 1,200 years, thanks to some Gothic renovations in the 14th century and a few more recent 20th century additions.
Just 30 minutes from Prague is the Castle Karlstejn. Surrounded by lush green forest, the castle emerges like something from a fairytale. While the exterior of the 14th century castle is beautiful, and the stepped layout was ahead of its time, it is what is inside that truly wows. Castle Karlstejn boasts an enormous collection of jewels from the Holy Roman Empire. In addition, you’ll be able to see duplicates of the Czech Royal Jewels, and in some cases you can even touch them yourself.