Well, what else can I say about the Czech Republic? I thought a lot and decided to tell you about Karlstejn Castle, located 28 kilometers from Prague. My story will be short, but meaningful like half-liter bottle of Borjomi. In general, it is useless to talk about Karlstejn. You should see it. That is why today will be more pictures than text. So…
The young King of Bohemia Charles very suddenly became Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV. In 1346 noble families of Europe supported his candidacy in opposition to the main contender French King Louis. In fact, Prague suddenly became the capital of Europe. And in 1348 the King laid down not only the University of Prague, but also the castle named «Charles Stone” – Karlstejn. The best artists of that time were involved in grandiose works. They were paid decent fee for the work: land and estates. After 17 years (February 9, 1365) the construction of the last building of the castle was completed the large tower with a chapel inside the Holy Cross. All royal valuables were transferred there. In addition to treasures, relics and documents of national importance here gold stock was kept, so we can confidently say that Karlstejn had become the first Czech depositary.
When Hussite Wars spread through the Czech Republic, the contents of the treasuries of many rich monasteries were transported there, and there not only royal jewels were stored, but also imperial. Royal treasures were kept there for about two centuries, but the imperial jewels were taken by Sigismund (the son of the King) during the struggle for power. Now they are kept in Vienna.
Castle Siege (1422) by the Hussites, who wanted to grab all gold for the needs of the revolution, became the first major test for the castle walls and fortifications. The castle stood, although gossips claimed that people of Karlstejn bought off
the rebels by giving them various valuable household items without touching the treasury. The castle was not besieged anymore, although the guides always point to the fact that anyone could capture the castle over the centuries. No one needed it because at the beginning of XVIII century all the treasures were taken away, the Kings no longer lived there, and it was located far away from the main roads.
In 1541 in Prague there was a fire that destroyed many valuable documents and books, so judicial archives were taken to the library of Karlstejn. At the beginning of the XVII century Gothic castle was rebuilt in Renaissance style and buildings were renovated. Despite this, in 1619 the treasures of the crown was taken away in the Prague Castle, and in 1620 the castle was handed over without a fight to Ferdinand II , who already in 1625 lowered the status of the city around the castle to the usual village and gave it to his wife-squanderer, who occupied the former royal residence of Jan Kavke of Říčany.
After that the castle was forgotten and it began slowly breaking down. For a while he even belonged to finishing school. Emperor Francis I, who visited these places in 1812, was horrified when he saw the state of the castle and ordered to restore it (what else things were to do the Emperor? Napoleon at this time was fighting in Russia). But the crowned head of the family of the Habsburgs took valuable furniture and carved wooden panels to Vienna. I wonder where does this furniture stand now: at Schonbrunn, Hoffburge or Belvedere?
At the end of XIX century Emperor Franz Joseph agreed to restore the castle and ordered Professor Schmidt to do it, who entrust it to his pupil Joseph Motsker. Reconstruction was carried out for 12 years by so-called purism method, according to which all was built later is removed and we have originally constructed object. All the buildings of the Renaissance style were demolished and the castle became gothic again. Some experts believe that the castle became modern replica as a result of such recovery, so it is still a candidate for entry in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site. But I think that thanks to Motsker the castle is not in ruins. So we see the castle as it was in the XIV century when Charles ruled.
Every self-respecting medieval castle owner had to do 2 things: build a castle on the hill and make a view around it. Location on the hill gives the advantages during the fight: the attacker is easier to be detected by observing the surroundings from the top; and it is hard to take it by storm when it is located on a hill.
The peasants provided castle guards and army with food. In case of assault houses gave an additional protection. The castle was the heart of neighborhood, and even after the lapse of time nothing has changed: everything here is obeyed to castle; everything is in a whirl around it.
And here are the the gates that lead to the castle. Beyond the gate there is the corridor, with both sides limited by notched wall. The enemy, breaking through the castle, had not chance to escape from the arrows of the archers.
And of course, the towers of the castle are worth visiting. It is considered that such location of the notched castle walls and towers symbolizes pilgrimage ascent to the Jerusalem holy mountain. On the tops of the towers there are wooden galleries; on the walls of some battle towers there are little extensions in order to save the peace of the castle. And of course, the towers of the castle offer wonderful views of the surrounding area.
By the way, thanks to the towers the inhabitants of the castle had no problem with water, because in the round tower there is well 78 meters deep. It is wisely to protect the water by tower, because you never know what the enemies can invent: history knows examples when the sources were poisoned. It is said that when the tunnel were made, there was no water, so water was brought from a spring located a kilometre from the castle. Nowadays in place around the gallery there is a souvenir shop where pottery is sold. But the gallery itself is closed by a thick glass and grating. Maybe it is because of the fact that there were many willing to look. But even through the murky glass it is very scary to look deep.
Inside the castle there are many rooms, tapestries, statues and other goodies of feudalism era, but unfortunately it is forbidden to take pictures there. By the way, it is absolutely unclear why it is so. All valuable things were transported to the capital, and what is left looks for the most part like incomplete backdrop for low-budget film of socialism era.
So, our trip is ended and my mission is done. And you can decide whether to go to Karlstejn during your stay in the Czech Republic or just walk around Prague. In any case, the attractions are not important. The important thing is mood.
As ancient proverb says: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.