Follow in the Footsteps of the Noble Waldstein Family

Follow in the Footsteps of the Noble Waldstein Family

Czech castles and châteaux marked by the influential noble family

Every year, the state organisation that oversees most Czech sites chooses one historical family that they introduce to the public at selected castles and châteaux. The year 2020 is marked by the aristocratic Waldstein family under the title Lions in the Service of Emperors. Learn about one of the prominent Czech noble families and follow in the footsteps of their ancestors.

Who were the Waldsteins?

The Waldsteins are one of the oldest Czech aristocratic families. Their name is derived from Valdštejn Castle near Turnov in northern Bohemia, which was founded in the second half of the 13th century, and they have featured the lion symbol in their coat of arms since time immemorial. From the 16th century, some members of the family gradually succeeded in asserting themselves in their service to kings and emperors and also taking important offices and positions in the army.

The most famous member of the family is the imperial generalissimo Albrecht of Waldstein, who lived in the 17th century and who significantly influenced the fighting during the Thirty Years’ War. His estate in North Bohemia included Mnichovo Hradiště, Bezděz, Hrubá skála, Lemberk Château, Grabštejn, Frýdlant, Sychrov and the towns of Česká Lípa, Hejnice, Liberec, Turnov, Valdice and Jičín, where he made the primary centre of his large estate. After Albrecht of Waldstein was murdered in Cheb in February 1634, Count Matthias Gallas acquired the Frýdlant estate as a reward for Waldstein’s assassination. In Prague, Albrecht had the Wallenstein Palace built for his comfort and fame. The stately residence in Malá Strana in Prague was to outshine the Prague Castle with its grandiosity. Today, it is the seat of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic.

Albrecht's relatives and descendants then mostly devoted themselves to military matters, diplomacy, architecture, or business and industry. Today, the Waldstein descendants live outside the Czech Republic due to the uphevals and history of the 20th century.

Where to go exploring

The “Waldsteins – Lions in the Service of Emperors” project primarily focuses on those family members who laid the foundations of a rich cultural heritage in the Czech Republic from the 17th to 19th century. This especially concerns important family estates – châteaux in Mnichovo Hradiště and Duchcov in North Bohemia that the family owned from the 17th to the 20th century. The collections of these châteaux contain rich and diverse furnishings accumulated by the family over centuries – a collection of family portraits, genre-based picture galleries, libraries, comprehensive collections of various character and numerous other historic objects that, together with the château architecture, illustrate the rich legacy of the Waldstein family.

Special events at Duchcov Château

The main exposition about the Waldstein family can be found in the south wing of Duchcov Château in northern Bohemia, about an hour by car from Prague. The new visitor tour will thematically expand the current guided tours. The interiors are furnished according to the inventory from the end of the 19th century. The brand new exposition at the château will be complemented by an exhibition dedicated to the importance and heritage of the Waldstein family. One of the interesting works of Duchcov Château is an accurate reconstruction of the graphic cabinet based on archived photographs. As late as in 1814, there were 148 white framed and glazed copper engravings. The extensive Duchcov collection of graphic art toured various châteaux, but it has never been presented in its entirety until now. If you like historic graphic art, visit Duchcov Château!

Château night in Mnichovo Hradiště

One of the many châteaux that belonged to the Waldstein family is also the château in Mnichovo Hradiště at the border between central and western Bohemia. On 31 August, the château will come alive with commented and costumed guided tours focusing on the Waldstein family. At this occasion, the extended exposition at the tomb of Albrecht of Waldstein entitled The Memory of the Family Will Last will open to the public, as will the exposition of the château theatre enriched by family portraits and costumes. At the same time, already in the summer season, you can visit the recently opened extended exposition of the Waldstein interiors that now includes the Antecamera in memory of Albrecht of Waldstein and the permanent panel exhibition, Waldstein Museum 1910-2020, which presents the transformation of the representation halls and collections of the Waldstein family during the past hundred years.

Exhibition in Prague

From 20 August to 11 October 2020, you can see two exhibition dedicated to the Waldstein family at the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic – the interior exhibition in the Mythological Hall of Wallenstein Palace. The exhibition focuses on members of the Waldstein family and presents unknown family members. You will see, for example, objects from the depositories of the Waldstein châteaux that have not yet been publicly displayed.