Český Krumlov chateau
Český Krumlov’s chateau is the second largest in the country (after Prague’s). Whether you tour the historic interiors, climb the tower, visit the gardens or just content yourself with its romantic silhouette shadowing your every move through the cobbled lanes, the chateau is a part of every visit to Český Krumlov.
If you would like to visit the interior, it’s a good idea not to leave it too late during your stay as you can only go as part of guided group and the tours can sell out. The main area of the castle is covered by two tours and you can also visit the baroque theatre (one of only four remaining in the world) climb the castle tower, or visit the ceramics exhibition in the old dungeons.
To enquire about the tours, you’ll need to find the ticket office, which is off to the side of the second courtyard. Tours One and Two both cost 180Kč with an English-speaking guide, and climbing the tower costs 50Kč. Photography and filming are not permitted inside the chateau at all. The tours run quite frequently in the summer, less in the spring and autumn, and the chateau is completely closed from the beginning of November ‘til the end of March.
Tour One is a good place to start. It begins in the next courtyard past the ticket office, and you’ll no doubt see other people gathered around the small brown sign that marks the beginning point. You first visit the chapel of St George, and here you’ll get an overview of the castle’s history; from it’s founding in 1257, the changes of ownership through the aristocratic Rožmberk dynasty, Emperor Rudolf II, the Eggenberg and Schwarzenberg dynasties to the eventual nationalization after WWII.
Boudoirs and ballrooms
From the chapel the tour heads upstairs to the stately renaissance rooms, the first of which is a classic aristocratic boudoir. Dark wooden four-poster bed, huge tapestries hanging from the walls, portraits of important historical figures connected with the history of the chateau and other assorted bibs and bobs from centuries past. The next room is the dining room with high backed chairs like small thrones, a long table set with ornate glass and silverware, and enough tapestries and portraits to make you believe you’re being watched from the past.
The following rooms are basically variations of these first two, and you’ll see more bearskin rugs, a carved wooden sleigh, mirrors from Venice, chandeliers and candelabra taller than a man and an ornate baroque horse-drawn carriage completely covered in gold and only used once. Watch out for the amazingly ornate and colourful carved wooden ceilings in some of the rooms, and listen carefully to the guide in the chamber of the white maiden.
Maiden in white
One of the Rožmberk lords took a young wife named Bertha who was extremely unhappy in her marriage and died before her time. She now returns to Český Krumlov on dark nights and the locals look eagerly to see the news she brings of the future. She always appears in ghostly white, and if she also has white gloves, it will be a year of weddings and births, while red gloves warn against fire and black gloves are a warning of epidemics and tragedies.
The final stop and the highlight of Tour One is the masquerade hall, which is about as long and wide as a basketball court. Used for concerts, theatre performances and balls, the hall features eleven crystal chandeliers and is completely covered in murals, depicting guests at a ball. There are 138 figures in all, most of them in decorative costume and wearing masks. Court musicians are also depicted, but I most liked the sly young lady holding a mirror up behind the cardplayers, the half man/half woman and half night/ half day figures and the depiction of the artist himself, taking a break with a cup of coffee after his six months of hard work.
The tour finishes in the next courtyard along from where it began, and all you have to decide is ‘left’ for Tour Two and the tower, or ‘right’ for the gardens and to enjoy the views across the river to the centre of town.
Státní hrad a zámek Český Krumlov
38101 Český Krumlov
Tel. 380 704711