Czech Republic has hundreds and hundreds of castles, chateaus and palaces. Though we haven’t visited all that many of them, here are our 10 favorite castles. Why they are our favorite varies, some are just beautiful and some we have loved since we saw them in fairytales as little kids.
1. Prague Castle – this is one of the most beautiful places in Czech Republic. If you are going to Czech Republic, then this is a must! For me, summer isn’t quite the same if I haven’t gone up to the Castle at least once. Dating back to the year 880, the Prague castle is one of the oldest and the largest castle in the world. Though the paid tours are definitely worth it, I also just love walking around the castle grounds and through the gardens for free.
2. Karlštejn – this is a very popular castle, mostly because of the numerous movies it showed up in and its history. Charles IV, the Holy Roman Emperor, built it in 1348, mostly for his treasures, including the Czech coronation jewels. And eve, though we haven’t been there recently, we have quite a few childhood memories of hiking up the steep hill (that got less steep and shorter as we got older) towards the castle. Best times to visit are around Christmas and Easter with markets and beautiful decorations.
3. Konopiště – this castle was built as a fortress in the 13th century, but in the 15th century was expanded into a castle and a mansion, that was eventually served as a home of Franz Ferdinand d’Este, who was very fond of this castle. You can still tour his personal quarters and see his extensive collection of trophies around the castle. I’ve visited this castle twice and found it was worth it to go on a tour both times. The interiors are beautiful, and I found myself wishing I could live there 🙂
4. Křivoklát – this is one of my personal favorites. Growing up, we would go to Křivoklát at least once a year. Over the past 900 years the castle survived numerous attacks and fires, but always ended up being reconstructed and expanded, into the beautiful structure it is today. Though all of the interiors aren’t furnished, there is definitely a lot to see, like the large library that has 52,000 books. Every time I’m there, I desperately want to spend hours going through all of the books.
5. Lednice – the Lednice castle is very fairytale like. I was 11 when I went there on a class trip, so I don’t remember much about my visit, but I do remember being in awe of how beautiful the castle is. The complex doesn’t only include the palace, but a greenhouse and a minaret, which seems to have appeared there out of nowhere. Of course when we climbed the stairs up to the top of the minaret we carefully counted the steps and then compared our numbers, competing for who was the closest to the actual number. It is also quite a young castle, dating only to the late 18th century.
6.Bouzov – this is another castle that appeared in various films, mostly Czech fairytales. This medieval castle was built in the 15th century and its still fully furnished, making the tours of the castle even more magical and fairytale like. It’s the place where you can daydream about what it would be like to live in a fairy tale.
7. Chateau Jemniště – Chateau Jemniště was built in 1381. The history of this palace is long and complex, because the owners changed frequently. Some of the most important owners include Sternberg, Trauttmansdorf and Lobkowicz. Eventually the Germans occupied it during the Second World War and the communist regime nationalized it in 1951. In 1995 it was restored to the Sternberg family, who own it to this day. Since the history of this place is so complex, taking the tour was a very detailed history lesson, mostly of the 19th and 20th For history lovers, like us, this was amazing and so much fun. But then again, we might just be history geeks 🙂
8. Kunětická Hora – This is a 14th century castle was built as a fortress during the Hussite Wars, but it was eventually reconstructed into a large castle that was a very popular social destination in the 15th and 16th Eventually the castle started falling apart, and became too dangerous to stay in. Now it’s mostly just ruins, but you can still visit and climb up to the tower to see the surrounding countryside.
9. Chateau Lány – this is the presidential summer palace. Unfortunately this means that entrance into the chateau is not allowed. But it is definitely worth it to go walk around the gardens and checking out the palace at least from the outside.
10. Červená Lhota – this is a picturesque little chateau, with a beautiful park surrounding it. However, inside it is a little different from other castles and palaces. Instead of gorgeously furnished and decorated rooms, filled with furniture dating back to the renaissance era, this palace is just a state museum. Though this can be interesting, it was a little disappointing when we visited.
If you go to Czech Republic, definitely visit these, they are very much worth going to and paying for the tours.