This week saw the re-opening of castles, chateaux, and other Czech cultural institutions after a lengthy period of lockdown. With the weekend ahead we’ve put together some tips for slowly and safely navigating your return to the domestic travel scene at one of these majestic historic sites not far from the Czech capital.
All of these castles can also be reached via train, however, given the current situation it’s important to check routes and timetables before setting out. Keep in mind there new rules for visiting Czech castles, many of which can be found in the “opening hours” links given here; masks, social distancing and cashless payment methods are also required for entry to most castles.
Journey time from Prague: 60 minutes by car, train
Parking: Dedicated parking lot, 15 min. walk
Location: Křivoklát, Central Bohemia
Křivoklát is a large and historically significant castle located in the Křivoklátsko Protected Landscape Area. Its roots date back to the 12th century, representing one of the key royal castles inhabited by the Přemyslids, Luxembourgs, and others. It also served as a prison and held the likes of mystical alchemist Magister Kelly. It houses a large collection of medieval art and a large library to perouse. The castle is also well known for its Křivoklání festival. While there, you can also book a private visit the local motorcycle museum (Muzeum motocyklů Křivoklát – needs to be booked in advance between November and February).
Journey time from Prague: 50 minutes by car, by train
Parking: Dedicated parking lot, 15 min. walk
Location: Karlštejn, Central Bohemia
Karlštějn is the “Castle Royale”, the poster boy of Czech tourism promotion and among the nicest majestic castles Czech Republic has to offer. This castle dates back to 1348 and was founded by no other than Karel IV, the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia, also inhabited by his son Václav IV. It served as a safe keep where Bohemian crown jewels, imperial regalia, holy relics and other important objects were stored and protected. A 15 minute uphill walk from the parking will take you to the castle and open up a wonderful elevated view of the surrounding areas. If you have more time to spend, take a longer walk (2 hours one way) to Svatý Jan Pod Skalou, you won’t regret it.
Český Sternberk Castle
Journey time from Prague: 45 minutes by car
Parking: Dedicated parking lot, 5 min. walk
Location: Český Šternberk, Central Bohemia
Český Šternberk is a beautiful castle dating back to 1241 overlooking the meanders of the Sázava river. It has been owned and inhabited by the Sternberg family to this day with Zdeněk Sternberg being the current owner. Amazingly, during communism, he was allowed to remain and became the castle keeper (while being stripped of his ownership). The castle grounds have recently been undergoing a sensitive reconstruction and the interiors are beautifully preserved and full of items to please the curious eye. Who knows, you may even meet Count Sternberk himself during your visit. If you have time to spare, take a short walk downhill to the town it overlooks or uphill to a watchtower for extended views.
Journey time from Prague: 55 minutes by car
Parking: Dedicated parking lot, 30 min. walk
Location: near Klapý, Central Bohemia
Házmburk is a stunning ruin on top of a hill overlooking the České středohoří mountains was founded in the second half of the 13th century by the Lichtenburgs. Its current name relates to the Zajíc (Hasen) family to which the castle was sold in 1335. It is characterized by two large towers, overlooking the landscape. The castle was abandoned in the 16th century and is now a state castle. From the parking lot, you can enjoy a 30 minute walk to the top, offering stunning views and a recently opened vineyard with a place to rest and taste some local wine. For a sweetener, you can also visit the Libochovice chateau and its gardens which is just around the corner.
Mníšek pod Brdy Chateau
Journey time from Prague: 40 minutes by car
Parking: Dedicated parking lot, 2 min. walk
Location: Mníšek pod Brdy, Central Bohemia (Google Maps)
The Mníšek pod Brdy chateau is located a very short distance from the city’s center. The first mentions of the then castle date back to 1348. It was ransacked by the Swedes in the 17th century, later rebuilt getting its unique look characterized by three towers. The entire chateau was fully reconstructed and refurnished in 2000, offering a rare opportunity to get an insight into what noble family life was like in the 20s. If you wish to see the city and its surroundings from up high, you can take a 45 minute walk to the Barokní areál Skalka which is nested in a quiet natural setting on top of a hill towering above the city.
Do you have any tips for trips include in an upcoming article? Let us know here.