Chateaux and castles

The Czech lands boast an extraordinarily high number of cultural monuments. Over 2,000 preserved castles and chateaux (more per square mile than any other country in the world!) represent an important part of the national cultural heritage, both in terms of their number and in terms of their historical and artistic value; their significance transcends national borders, and more than a few of these structures are important even in the global cultural context. 

Nowadays, most Czech castles and chateaux are owned by the state, even though many were returned to their original owners, whether aristocratic families or church institutions. These old-new owners have kept their property open to the public, frequently restoring the buildings to their original appearance. Publicly accessible castles and chateaux are a testament to the high level of onetime builders’ art and often come equipped with a wealth of artistic treasures. Their interior furnishings are complemented by valuable collections of pictures, weaponry, porcelain, glass, and fine crafts. Nearly 60 castles, chateaux and castle ruins are currently listed in the Register of National Cultural Monuments; several are included in the UNESCO List of World Cultural and Natural Heritage Sites.

Since the dawn of Czech history, the heart of Europe saw a number of feudal seats with a defensive function built to protect the land against the devastating raids from neighboring countries. These defense castles were thus often built atop inaccessible rock formations and steep hills, or else were surrounded by water moats. This style only began to change in the fourth decade of the 13th century, when the royal castles and the first noble seats appeared. In the vicinity of these castles and their ruins, we can still view the evidence of various sieges; there are the onetime army camps and firing positions, discernible from the surviving massive protective lines and deep moats.

Early 16th century brought a new lifestyle, which demonstrated itself in the appearance of comfortable chateaux, many of which were surrounded by splendid parks and gardens featuring rare trees, sculpture and decorative structures.

On the territory of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia, all types of medieval castles have been preserved. Similarly, the entire range of historical architectural styles has influenced the appearance of chateaux in our country. Today we can see both pure examples of a single style or structures which have gone through a number of adaptations, resulting in an interesting mixture of styles.

Many of the castles and chateaux attract visitors through a number of programs in addition to the guided tours; these might include nighttime tours, medieval-style tournaments and feasts, international music festivals and competitions. Several chateaux were converted into hotels.

Czech castles and chateaux are attractive not only to tourists but also to a large number of film and TV crews, both domestic and, increasingly, international.
The “Castle Road” is part of a romantic route which begins near Mannheim and concludes in Prague. On the Czech territory, it comprises nine locations, which together offer a cross-section of one thousand years of architecture. 

Visitors to the Czech Republic can enjoy some chateaux while attending a conference, meeting or convention; among other venues, these events are often hosted by the chateaux of Mostov (near Cheb), Sychrov (near Liberec), and Dětenice (near Ji?ín).