Description of Objects within the Castle Complex in Český Krumlov
The Český Krumlov State Castle is a complex of forty buildings situated around five courtyards and seven-hectare grounds of the castle park. The complex grew up by degrees within each building stage from the 14th to the 19th century. The foundations of today's castle disposition were laid as early as the 16th century during large-scale Renaissance remodellings. The Český Krumlov castle is considered to be the second largest castle complex in Central Europe (next to the Prague Castle).
The whole castle complex can be passed through and is open to the public. During the tourist season, especially during the early evening, a stroll through each courtyard offers an extraordinary experience. Within the tour of the castle exteriors you can walk through the Lower Castle which consists of the Ist Courtyard of the Český Krumlov Castle (Rejdiště - Romping Ground) and the IInd Courtyard of the Český Krumlov Castle known as the Guardhouses. The tour then passes through the IIIrd Courtyard of the Český Krumlov Castle and the IVth Courtyard of the Český Krumlov Castle which create the complex of the Upper Castle. By crossing the Cloak Bridge you get to the Vth Courtyard of the Český Krumlov Castle and then to the extensive Castle Gardens in Český Krumlov to which, however, entrance is limited by the opening times and performances of the South Bohemian Theater in an Open-air Theater with a Revolving Auditorium.
The original grounds of the front part of the castle with ramparts and fortifications were converted into the built-up and busy farming estate during the building development towards the end of the 16th century. The main entrance into the Ist courtyard of the Český Krumlov castle from the town's side, Latrán street, is defined by a rusticated gate with a wooden door, called the Red Gate referring to the colour of its paint. The upper part of the gate with the Schwarzenberg coat-of-arms partly represents the original gate dated to 1861. The wings of the gate and other details were reconstructed in 1988.
To the right of the Red Gate there is a building called the Salt House (Castle No. 57 - Salt House) which is the original Gothic outbuilding. The peripheral stonework and the stone window flanning in the corner of the gate were built in the Gothic style. The roof truss retained its Gothic character as well. During the building development the house changed its function, so since 1511, when the building was mentioned for the first time, it was used as a malt-house and since the end of the 16th century it served as a granary. In 1723, the building was adapted and turned into a salt storage (hence the present name) and finally in 1876 the adaptation into officials´ flats was completed.
The building to the left of the Red Gate (Castle No. 46 - New Pharmacy) boasting about a Renaissance Sgraffito facade dated from 1556 has a core structure built most probably as early as the 14th century. Its reference as the Pharmacy doesn't accurately reflect its original purpose, as according to reports from the end of the 19th century, the house served as a residence for the court doctor only since 1629, when the castle became the property of the princely Eggenberg family. It was not until 1915 that the castle pharmacy at the time accommodated in the Castle No. 66 - Old Pharmacy was moved to the ground floor of the building.
To the left of the Red Gate there is an extensive section of former stables with a granary on the first floor (Castle No. 232 - Stables) - today's Study Centre. The stables were mentioned for the first time as early as 1556, and in 1603 the stables were described as accommodating 50 horses. In the course of the 17th and 18th centuries partial adaptations of stables or granary were carried out , in 1878 the building became the subject of comprehensive reconstruction. In 1938, the building was rebuilt to serve office purposes and the Column Hall, which presently houses exhibitions, was established.
Near the castle steps, on the left-hand side, there is the building of Castle No. 58 - Old Burgrave's House, where the highest official and administrator of the castle lived. The complicated ground plan layout reflects the building stages and difficulties in fitting the building to the terrain. Part of the peripheral masonry is built in the Gothic style while the interiors and the exteriors bear witness to the Renaissance building activities in the second half of the 16th century. Radical reconstructions in the Baroque style and the classicism were carried out in the southern and northern part in the second half of the 18th century.
Towards the castle tower, there is a Connecting Corridor which led from the Upper Castle to the minorite monastery.
The area of the Ist courtyard, the former so-called Rejdiště (Romp Ground), passes on the right side into the park, established probably in the 16th century.
The stone Fountain at the Ist Courtyard of Český Krumlov Castle dominating the centre of the park dates back to 1561. The area previously most probably served as a paddock or run-out for cattle. That is the reason for its original name of Rejdiště (Romping Ground). The process of construction of outbuildings rimming the fortifications in the front castle area began probably as early as the 14th century and follows an interesting building development. The fortifications were bordered by outbuildings from the castle side and by burgher houses from the street of Latrán.
Each building served various purposes which changed over the course of centuries, for example the house called the Old Pharmacy from 1587 Castle No. 66 - Old Pharmacy. According to the inventories, the building provided accommodation for higher princely officials until the beginning of the 18th century. Adaptations of the pharmacy laboratory as well as the room for laboratory assistants or for pharmacist were carried out too. In 1915, the pharmacy was moved to the building of the Castle No. 46 - New Pharmacy and its premises were turned into flats and a shop on the ground floor.
Another interesting house is the cold storage, of which only the lay-out of peripheral walls remains near the object of the Castle - Smithy. Inventories from the beginning of the 17th century mention even two smithies. The well-preserved building was set up in 1654 and is regarded as a valuable example of period outbuilding.
The building of the former brewery (Castle No. 65 - Brewery) was given its present appearance around the year 1561, and the Krumlov burgrave, later the dominion regent Jakub Krčín of Jelčany is mentioned in connection with its construction in 1579. More detailed written sources from the castle inventory from 1607 describe closets, granary, brewing-house, malt-house, and cellars as well as a remarkable list of supplies that implies the great demands on storage capacity. It seems as if the operation of the brewery required not only the main building with conserved Renaissance Graffito decoration and the spacious granary with extensive cellars vaulted on the central pillars, but also the neighbouring objects. Around the years 1624 - 1625 the brewery moved outside the castle premises and each building was turned into flats and workshops, granaries or storage. The crafts such as wheelwright, joiner, slater are mentioned. At the end of the 19th century the princely dairy producing butter and cheese was set up.
Building of the Castle No. 184 - Hospital is situated in a place of today's passage in the Deer Park where most probably the gate of defence used to stand. In the 16th century the building was accommodating the workshops and flats of domestic staff . The hospital for castle staff was established in 1775. Its operation lasted to the end of the 19th century.
Castle No. 64 is the last building in this part of the courtyard and was set up near the south-west corner of the massive bastion in the end of the 18th century. The object served as a house and workshop of the court gun-maker and as official flats from the middle of the 19th century.
Opposite the complex of outbuildings, near the ramparts, there is an extensive coach-house (Castle - Coach-house) built at the beginning of the 18th century. The operation of clerical apparatus as well as frequent princely visits demanded a large space to accommodate coaches, sleighs or other vehicles. It is interesting that despite the fire in 1774 the coach-house was reconstructed to its original extent.
The mighty bastions standing near the entrance to the IInd courtyard create a part of the fortifications built in 1620. At the beginning of the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War the imperial garrison adjutant Ferdinand Carrati de Carrara had the castle fortified. On the tops of the bastions the figures of lions bear the coats-of-arms of Prince Joseph Adam zu Schwarzenberg (1722 - 1782) on the left and his wife Marie Terezie von Lichtenstein (1721 - 1753) on the right.
The stone bridge over the deep moat replaced the original wooden draw-bridge in 1647. In the middle of the 18th century the sculptures of Virgin Mary and St. Joseph were erected on the side walls. Bears are kept in the Bear Moat at Český Krumlov Castle as living proof of a presumed relation between the Lords of Rosenberg and Italian family of Orsini. The coats-of -arms of Vilém von Rosenberg (1535 - 1592), Johann Anton I. von Eggenberg (1610 - 1649) and his wife Marie Anna von Brandenburg (1609 - 1680) are located above the scuncheon lining the gate.
The present-day IInd courtyard covering the grounds of the original so-called Lower Castle consists of the Little Castle with a tower, New Burgrave's House, Mint and Dairy. The courtyard's terrain was given today's appearance around the year 1640, while in the Middle Ages the courtyard consisted of few buildings creating a fortification between the Lower and Upper Castle. It was not until the second half of the 16th century that the area was enclosed by new buildings during far-reaching reconstructions carried out to convert the Krumlov castle into an imposing castle residence.
The oldest and most important building is the so-called Little Castle with a castle tower (see Castle No. 59 - Little Castle, Castle No. 59 - Castle Tower). In the left-hand corner of the courtyard there is a staircase leading to this building which was mentioned as early as the first half of the 13th century as a mighty cylindrical tower with a palace. At the time of the rule of Vilém von Rosenberg around the year 1580, the comprehenxsive re-building of the early Gothic Little Castle was carried out by architect Baldassare Maggi d'Arogno and the austere Gothic palace was converted into the residential house built in Renaissance style. The tower was remodelled and the arcade gallery was established on the top. In 1591, the painter Bartoloměj Beránek - Jelínek decorated the castle tower with paintings using figural and architectural motifs. After the document case was opened on August 22, 1991 the dates of building stages in 1690, 1794 and 1947 were made accurate thanks to the discovered documents. Current restoration and reconstruction activities aspire to rehabilitate the Renaissance architectonic features of the tower and Little Castle that are partly visible or covered with plaster from the 19th century.
The above mentioned building activities carried out by Baldassare Maggi d'Arogno included the construction of the so-called New Burgrave's House (Castle No. 59 - New Burgrave's House) around the year 1578 which enclosed the IInd courtyard from the northern and eastern side. The two-wing building of a rectangular disposition was erected above the cellars with mighty vaulting (48 m in length, 4.6 m in height, 8.5 m in width). Such cellar premises are, apart from the Prague Castle, unparalleled among Czech castle architecture. The cellars with the access to Rejdiště (Romp Ground) originally accommodated stables. Another section of smaller cellars serving as a jail from 1803 were situated next to the place where bears are kept. The ground and first floors of the building were originally used for castle administration. At the present, the premises above the passage accommodate the castle library housing about 40 000 volumes of classic and scientific literature gathered over the course of the last four centuries. One of the first vocational schools of agriculture in Bohemia was established in the larger northern wing in the years 1800 - 1850. At the present time there are offices and depositories of the branch of the State District Archive housing a vast number of documents dated from the second half of the 13th century up to the present. The barracks of the princely Grenadier Schwarzenberg Guard, which served at the castle from 1742 to 1949, were located on the ground floor. Four cannons dating from 1608, 1644 and 1870 are remnants of the guard's operation. Chiaroscuro facade paintings, originally in Renaissance style, done most probably under the supervision of Gabriel de Blonde in the second half of the 16th century were restored in the years 1842 and 1908.
The southern side of the courtyard is encircled by one of the newest buildings, the Mint (Castle No. 59 - Mint). The re-establishment of the mint is mentioned in connection with the building activities carried out in the rule of Prince Johann Anton I. von Eggenberg (1610 - 1649) in 1642. However, the reliable evidence of the mint's localisation doesn't date until the 1680's. After a great fire in 1729 the building was reconstructed according to plans by A. E. Martinelli and one storey was added to acquire its present-day appearance.
The stucco decoration located above the central entrance implies the purpose the building used to serve - apart from (Coinage) the house was a flat of the princely huntsman, later the estate offices, forest headquarters etc.. Nowadays the ground-floor premises are available to the castle administration while the cellars house the depository of the State District Archive. The first floor accommodates exhibitions.
The Fountain in the IInd Courtyard of Český Krumlov Castle is dated from 1641 and its construction evidently took place in the context of a modification of the courtyard's terrain.
Entrance to the Upper Castle was made difficult by a second moat, but this was solved in the Gothic period by a tower with a staircase which was connected to the palace by a wooden bridge leading up to the first floor. The core of this Gothic tower was what is today known as the Dairy (see Castle No. 59 - Dairy), which after a Renaissance reconstruction served for the production of butter and processing dairy products for use in the castle kitchens. The contemporary facade of the building was repaired in 1989. In 1575 access to the Upper Castle was expanded to its present situation (see Corridor Connecting IInd and IIIrd Courtyards of Český Krumlov Castle), while the drawbridge was disassembled in the middle 17th century.
The portal of the passage from the IInd Courtyard of Český Krumlov Castle bearing three coats-of-arms - the Rosenberg, the Eggenberg and the Brandenburg (Coats-of-arms in the Český Krumlov Castle Complex) - on the top leads to the area of the so-called Upper Castle (Castle No. 59 - Upper Castle). The complex of palaces situated around the IIIrd and IVth Courtyard of Český Krumlov Castle came about during the building activities from the middle of the 14th century to the 18th century. Despite the complicated building development, the palaces retained the features of Renaissance style from the most flourishing period in the second half of the 16th century in the rule of Wilhelm von Rosenberg (1535 - 1592). The most outstanding works are those of architects Antonio Ericero Vlach, Baldassare Maggi d'Arogno or painter Gabriel de Blonde.
On the adapted and partly rough-hewn rock, below the courtyard there were multi-levelled vaulted cellars built to serve as a reliable foundation for the palace walls, dozens of metres high. The buildings constructed in Gothic style are preserved only in a few places, especially in the eastern part of the Upper Castle (Český Krumlov Castle in the Gothic Period), namely the Chapel of St.George and St.Catherine, mentioned for the first time in 1334, and a Gothic room of unknown purpose next to the so-called Roman room. Other buildings were constructed in the course of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.
It is interesting that the splendid and mighty character of the Renaissance residence was not disturbed by adaptations carried out in the course of the 17th and 18th centuries, but rather respected. As an example, among other things, the facade paintings in both courtyards (the work of painter Gabriel de Blonde from around 1575) which represent allegorical and mythological scenes and figures from the Greek and Roman history (Wall Paintings in the IIIrd Courtyard of Český Krumlov Castle, Wall Paintings in the IVth Courtyard of Český Krumlov Castle). The adaptations done on the facades in the 17th and 18th century didn't destroy the paintings. In the years 1909 - 1912 the paintings were restored and enriched by Schwarzenberg restorer Theofil Melicher. The interiors of the Upper Castle are open to the public in two guided tours.
The complex of the palaces situated around the IVth courtyard came about during the building activities from the middle of the 14th century to the 18th century. Despite the complicated building development, the palaces retained the features of Renaissance style from the most flourishing period in the second half of the 16th century during the reign of Wilhelm von Rosenberg (1535 - 1592). The most outstanding works are those of architects Antonio Ericero Vlach, Baldassare Maggi d´Arogno and painter Gabriel de Blonde.
On the adapted and partly rough-hewn rock, below the courtyard there were multi-storied vaulted cellars built to serve as a reliable foundation for the palace walls of the palaces reaching several dozen metres in height. The interiors of the three-story castle cellars housing a ceramics exposition are open to the public.
The adaptations carried out in the course of the 17th and 18th century didn´t detract from the splendid and mighty character of the Renaissance residence, in fact, the residence's features were respected. As an example, among others, the facade paintings in both courtyards depicting the allegorical and mythological scenes and figures from the Greek and Roman history were preserved. The unknown author came most likely from France or south-west Germany, judging by the painting technique. The adaptations done on the facades in the 17th and 18th century didn't destroy the paintings. In the years 1909 - 1912 the paintings were restored and enriched by Schwarzenberg restorer Theofil Melicher. The Upper Castle has a special importance to visitors as its interiors are open to the public in two guided tours.
The covered three-storey corridor was erected on massive pillars vaulted together on each storey. The original drawbridge over the Middle Ages moat was replaced by the stone construction during building stages in 1686, 1707, 1748 and 1765. The corridor in the lower storey connects the Masquerade Hall with the Castle Theater in Český Krumlov, and the Connecting Corridor located in the upper storey of the bridge enables passage up to the castle park.
The Vth courtyard, originally created by fortifications and farm buildings, remarkably changed its character in 1681 when the theater building was set up. The stone terraces levelling out the terrain and fortifications offered suitable grounds for building expansion towards the west.
In 1684, Prince Johann Christian I. von Eggenberg had the theater built there. The building was once more remodelled in 1766. The Baroque castle theater is, in the words of a great supporter and admirer of the theater, Professor Peter Perina, "....the most precious gem in the theater crown of historic heritage on our planet." Thanks to the entirety of the original equipment the theater serves as an example of an ingenious stylistically and technically mature Baroque stage. The original fund is preserved in both extensive archival documentation of repertoire as well as in object equipment such as auditorium, stage, stage technology, scenery, costumes, stage properties, and lighting technology.
The Renaissance House (see Castle No. 177 - Renaissance House) of which the western peripheral wall is a remnant of mediaeval fortification, is an integral part of the theater building. The present-day disposition, at least in the ground-floor premises, was most probably set up according to a project by builder Antonín Vlach around the year 1570. In 1765, the first storey was rebuilt, the attic together with the corridor of the Cloak Bridge was remodelled and the facade was harmonised with that of castle theater.
The iron gate with the building of Porter's Lodge (Castle No. 60 - Porter's Lodge) closes in the Vth courtyard of the castle complex. Other buildings are situated in the castle grdens. The path on the right leads to the park section called summer riding ground which served as a summer horse-riding training area in the past. The classic winter Riding Hall was built in the near vicinity of the summer riding ground by the architect Andreas Altomonte around the year 1745. Sumptuous stucco decorations were created by the sculptor Jan Antonín Zinner and plasterer Mathias André.
Tha area of today´s Castle Gardens has witnessed a complex development since the Middle Ages. At that time, the serf croplands spread out across the western part as the property of the Lords of the Český Krumlov Castle. Across from the croplands, the elevated area south-west of the castle (the area of today´s garden houses, Lower Parterre, and the other lower areas) was fortified by vallum mounds and moats.
In the 16th century the fortified areas were transformed into the Renaissance gardens of the Lords of Rosenberg. These gardens contained orchards, a vegetable garden, and two imposing summer manors.
During the stormy area of the uprising of the Bohemian nobility (1618 - 1620) and the following Thirty Years War (1618 - 1648), the Gardens suffered remarkably. The instability of the times necessitated the construction of new fortification walls, during which the Gardens were significantly damaged.
After several decades of decline, the Gardens were finally rejuvenated under the care of the aristocraticEggenberg family from Austria. Prince Johann Christian of Eggenberg, after his marriage to Marie Ernestine von Schwarzenberg in 1666 undertook an extensive reconstruction of the former Rosenberg castle into a confortable aristocratic seat which reflected the spirit of the ages, an inseparable part of which was the baroque gardens. The Castle Gardens were estabilished in their present extent and style, i.e. early Baroque, in 1678. The area of the Gardens, composing almost 11 hectares, is divided into four terraces and surrounded by a high enclosing wall interrupted by entrance gates and observation windows offering views out onto the surrounding landscape. It lies on sloping ground and is oblong-shaped, measuring roughly 150 by 750 metres.
In 1719 the Český Krumlov Castle and estates passed over to the ownership of the Schwarzenberg family, where they remained for over two hundred years. It was during this period that the Gardens enjoyed their modifications, each reflecting the style of the period and the tastes of the aristocratic owners.
Today´s visitor to the Castle Gardens can see the influences of Rococo, Classicism, Romanticism and Historicism.
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Terraces of the Gardens:
The lowest terrace of the Gardens, know today as the Pleasance Garden, served as a private garden for the princely family and was marked as the "Royal Garden". From 1686 it has been spanned by a connecting corridor which begins in the western wing of the Upper Castle and ends in the terrace one level higher, at the Summer Riding Garden.
Our path leads us still upwards of the former Winter Riding School. The School was built in 1744 - 1746 in Viennese Rococo style onca the architectural plans of Andreas Altomonte. It was interior spaces served as an exercising grounds for horses, usually in the winter months and during unpleasant weather (hence the name "Winter Riding School").
The staircase (which used to be a carriage ramp) across from the Winter Riding School leads us up to the terrace known as the Summer Riding Garden. The row of linden trees surrounding this garden was planted in the beginning of the 18th century. The grassy area served not only for exercising horses and training riders, but it was also ideal for ball games and even held a covered lane for garden bowling.
Above the majestic Baroque staircase of the Summer Riding Garden is situated the third terrace of the Castle Gardens known as the Lower Parterre. This was the area known as the "Princely Flower Garden". Today´s appearance of the Lower Parterre comes to us from a reconstruction carried out from 1969 - 1978. It evokes the spirit of the original Rococo garden with its flower beds formed into shapes which were fashionable at the time,i.e. palms and ribbons. Above the floral decorations we are faced with centuries-old oak trees, especially with the four massive exemplary red-leafed beeches.
In center of the slope, also placed in the central axis of the Castle Gardens, is the Cascade Fountain - one of the most beautiful and most valuable in Bohemia. The fountain was built after 1750 on the design of Andreas Altomonte in cooperation with Johann Anton Zinner, at the time the inspector of the Schwarzenberg princely gardens. The sculptures, carved from mussel limestone, were done by the sculptor Matthias Greissler under the supervision and cooperation of Johann Anton Ziner. In 1996-1998 the Cascade Fountain was renovated and restored.
The Lower Parterre passes up a grassy slope to the area of the Upper Garden. If the appearance of the Lower Parterre was marked by the usage of ornamental flower beds, the impression of the Upper Garden is created by the use of picturesque group of mature trees. They give this part of the Gardens a more relaxed romantic atmosphere which rather brings to mind the imagination of a landscape painter. The areas by the castle pond are in some cases more reminiscent of a forest. Even so, the layout of the paths, as well as the building which have been preserved, betray an originally Baroque compositional arrangement. Here as well, the Garden develops into a more or less symetrical depth along a main compositional axis in individual square areas demarcated by transverse paths. The squares were originally formed as parterres, mazes, or variously-shaped bosquettes.
The first object which captures our attention in the Upper Garden is the modern Revolving Auditorium, which during summer nights allows visitors an extraordinary experience, watching a theatre performance with nature as the stage. At present, the question of the appropriateness of the further existence of this experimental scene from the late 20th century is being resolved in the context of its location in the compositional center of this early Baroque castle garden, as the structure sits in the Garden´s most valuable location.
To the right of the main path and the revolving auditorium, we can see the Rococo summer manor Bellaria, one of the most valuable buildings of this type in Bohemia. The original garden pavilion already stood on this site in 1692, and during the reign of the Eggenbergs it went through several stages of modification. What we see today is the preserved Rococo form left from the late 18th century by Andreas Altomonte. In the underground level of the Bellaria you would find a Baroque kitchen, a room with the machinery of the "magic table", and an artificial cave known as the grotto. The walls of the grotto were covered by Matthias André with stucco decorations inset with thousands of seashells, river pearls, and bits of glass and mirrors. In both of the upper floors the walls are covered with paintings by František Jakub Prokyš. The "magic table" mentioned before has been preserved in the dining room - this was used as a sort of elevator for food and was built in 1746 by the Český Krumlov carpenter Leayer. Nowadays the summer manor Bellaria is inaccessible to the public.
If we go deeper into the garden, we pass the pagoda known as the Musical Pavillion on the right side. The age of the pagoda is revealed by the frescos on the ceiling with the allegories of the individual seasons, again painted by Prokyš in 1752.
The path through the garden leads on between two square wooded areas, known as bosquettes, to the castle pond. This square water reservoir is laid out on the highest area of the gardens. In the middle of the pond is a small island where there once was a fountain with a high water spray. Just like in the past, the romantic atmosphere of the castle pond entices visitors today to stroll among the linden alleys and watch the water birds. It also offers a place in the shade to rest on benches for those of us who have completed our tour of the vast grounds of the castle and Castle Gardens.