Castles, Chateaux, Monasteries and Other Memorials in the Český Krumlov Region

Map of cultural and historical monuments of the Český Krumlov region, made by Aleš Zelenka The Český Krumlov region is remarkably abundant in religious and non-religious monuments that draw the attention of its visitors. We can find here many castles, chateaux, monasteries and churches which tell us very much of the history of the Český Krumlov region.

The forming of the region from the historical point of view was influenced by the presence of the significant aristocratic family of the Rosenbergs and also by the activity of the Cistercian Vyšší Brod Monastery and Zlatá Koruna Monastery by means of which high Gothic architecture, influenced by so-called Podunajská architecture, arrived in our country. On the other side we cannot omit the significance of gentry life on the country forts and little castles.

At the time of Middle Ages the castle architecture took up the front place among secular buildings. The castles were the residences of aristocracy, the ownership helped their owners to raise themselves above nobles, they performed residential, administrative and also defensive functions. The castles mostly situated on places of importance from the strategic point of view (hills, headlands, rivers) had in various modifications in appearance a similar character made of a palace, tower and fortifications with walls and moats. Among the most significant examples of this castle architecture are the Rožmberk nad Vltavou Castle and Dívčí Kámen Castle, that were owned by the Rosenbergs.

The gentry built smaller seats for themselves in the style of forts and little castles that as well as the castles performed residential, administrative and defensive functions. They differed from the castles in the extent, imposingness and size of fortifications. These buildings mostly had towers and ramparts that were built using the natural disposition of grounds (elevations, swamps, rivers) to help to protect their inhabitants. Most of the forts were built right in the villages, if they were built out of the reach of village we sometimes call them the little castles. However from the 15th century the forts and little castles were ruined and left in this region that is connected with the Rosenbergs´ activities. This family used to buy or acquire these small seats and ruin them for the reason of strategy not to be used by their enemies. The Rosenbergs used to join the contiguous estates to their manor. For example the Little Castle of Louzek, Velešín Castle, the Castle and Monastery of Kuklov, the Little Castle of Pořešín and Little Castle of Křemže and the Fortified Settlement of Benešov nad Černou met such lot.

In connection with economic-administration changes the new economic and social centres were established from the end of the 15th century and the importance of the castles and forts slowly diminished. However, at the same time some of these forts were reconstructed in the 16th century in the Renaissance style to correspond in a better way to increasing demands on living. For example the Fortified Settlement of Štěkře rebuilt in the Renaissance style was preserved up to the present day.

Other forts were destroyed in the first half of the 17th century when they were rebuilt into farmyards such as the Fortified Settlement of Chlum and the Fortified Settlement of Chlumeček or they were rebuilt into a brewery such as the Fortified Settlement of Tichá or into a gamekeeper's lodge such as the Fortified Settlement of Kladenské Rovné. Because of insolvency of their owners the Fortified Settlement of Větřní, the Fortified Settlement of Pasovary and the Fortified Settlement of Slavkov went over to the ownership of Český Kumlov town. The defensive function of little castles and forts became completely extinct but there were some exceptions such as the Little Castle "Vítkův Hrádek" that was used for defence during the Thirty Years´ War. Some of the forts disappeared without any vestige of their existence and we have only little information of them, such as about the Sokolčí Castle, the Fortified Settlement of Bělá and the Fortified Settlement of Michnice.

In accordance with the changes in the life style of the aristocracy the former Renaissance forts and farm yards were rebuilt again this time in the Baroque style into the appearance of country chateaux that could give their aristocratic owners enough comfort during their casual visits. Such type of buildings are, for example, the Červený Dvůr Castle with a huge park, the Little Castle of Omlenička or Kvítkův Dvůr, which was a farm yard partially rebuilt into a chateau. At the time of the Rococo style the interiors of Červený Dvůr and Kvítkův Dvůr were painted with fine mural paintings in Rococo style that contributed to a felling of intimacy and privacy of these country chateaux.

At the time of the Baroque style many church buildings were reconstructed and also newly built. It was because of changes in the religious climate that was characteristic with very intensive drift towards religion. Thanks to an extreme Baroque adoration the Svatý Kámen Pilgrimage Church was established that originated in a place of an alleged vision of the Holy Virgin. Other original Gothic buildings were reconstructed in the Baroque style. That is the case with the Kájov Pilgrimage Church that was also consecrated to the Holy Virgin and visited by many worshippers from far afield.

At the end of the 18th century the intensive construction activity connected with construction or reconstruction of the secular as well as church monuments faded out. The reforms of Josef II and beginning of secularisation also brought the liquidation of monasteries and closing down of churches. The Zlatá Koruna monastery and the Svatý Kámen pilgrimage church are an example of this.

Among many interesting buildings of the 19th century we can mention the unfinished Little Castle of "Ptačí Hrádek" near Český Krumlov that should have been a stately monument commemorate the victory of Karl zu Schwarzenberg over Nepoleon in 1813 in the battle of Leipzig. In connection with romanticism that evoked an increasing interest of the past, the Rožmberk nad Vltavou castle was remarkably reconstructed in a historical style. At the same time new dwelling houses were built there that expressed growing demands for living standards in the 19th century.

In 1948 when communism took over a lot of social and property changes were made - many of the buildings that lost their former owners and function were dispossessed. Those more significant were opened to the public but less important or smaller buildings were used in agriculture, by army, the health service, etc. and this fact mostly contributed to their devastation. The fundamental change came in 1989 when the step-by-step renovation of these buildings of worth was begun.

Further information:
Architecture in the Český Krumlov Region
Architecture in Český Krumlov
History of Český Krumlov Castle
Medieval Colonization of the Český Krumlov Region