Treasure in Bečov nad Teplou
When you ask Czechs what their greatest national treasure is, most of them would correctly say that it is the crown jewels of the Czech kings, which are carefully stored in Prague
at Prague Castle
. But there is another medieval treasure that easily compares to the crown jewels. It is the Reliquary of St. Maurus
, decorated with gold, silver and precious stones, and you can see it with your own eyes at the château in Bečov nad Teplou
in West Bohemia
. Thought to originate from the beginning of the 13th century, its fate has been quite dramatic. Its story became complicated after WWII
, when it disappeared for several decades. Its owners sympathised with the Nazis during the war and buried the reliquary under the château chapel floor before they fled from Bečov. Forty years later, they wanted to collect the rare artefact through an American businessman, who offered the unspecified historic artefact to the Czechoslovak authorities for two-hundred and fifty-thousand dollars. The Police got involved in the search for the mysterious object and detectives managed to find the legendary artefact after a few months. If it wasn’t for one coincidence, the reliquary would probably remain buried in Bečov to this day. And so when you tour the château, you can also now see one of the most valuable artefacts
in the Czech Republic.
White Lady of Rožmberk
A lot of the medieval castles and early modern châteaux in the Czech Republic have their own legend about the White Lady
. Usually, the White Lady appears quietly, walks by and disappears again. The clothing or the colour of the gloves she wears then indicates what will happen in the future. Most white ladies walk the châteaux owned by the South Bohemian noble family of Rožmberk, that is Rožmberk
Castle and the châteaux in Jindřichův Hradec
and Český Krumlov
. You can see the famous painting of the lady in a white dress at Rožmberk Castle in South Bohemia
. Legends usually say that it represents the Rožmberk noblewoman Perchta, who married Johann of Lichtenstein. The marriage was unhappy from the very beginning and her husband cursed her. The White Lady began appearing at Rožmberk’s houses after Perchta died in 1476 and would herald death, fire or a new baby to the members of the family for centuries. The last time she was seen was during WWII
when the Nazi organisation Bund Deutscher Mädeln held a summer camp there. Allegedly, when they were hoisting the flag with the swastika, many witnesses saw an ominous white ghost appear in Jakobínka tower. The Gestapo also came to investigate, but no-one discovered anything – there was no staircase or ladder inside the tower that a potential culprit could use to access it.
Was the Knights Templar treasure at Blatná Château?
The foundation of the Blatná
water chateau on the border between Central
and South Bohemia
is accompanied by a legend about the Knights of Templar. Secret underground rooms, strange sculptures and mysterious paintings were common in such estates. For example, there used to be a mural depicting an empty rocky landscape with a crowd of Knights Templar and a Moor
holding a lantern in one of the halls in the north wing of Blatná Château in the 18th century. The secret behind the painting was resolved by a château clerk. He believed that the Moor was leading the knights to a rock where a treasure was hidden in the place where the light of the lantern fell. Allegedly, he sneaked into the hall at night, opened the secret hiding place and disappeared with its contents. Whatever the contents of the Knights Templar treasure were, the secret of the painting was gone for good. In the end, it was repainted and disappeared just like the clerk who deciphered it. Today, we don’t know whether or not there really was a treasure in Blatná.
Gateway to Hell at Houska Castle Houska
Castle in Central Bohemia
is one of the most mysterious places in the Czech Republic. No-one knows why the castle was built – it stands in a place that has no strategic significance, far from any important medieval trading routes. It was not a royal castle where the king would rest away from the town, it was not a border castle, and moreover, it was built in a remote area without an available source of water. The whole defensive system makes the castle look even more peculiar as it is designed to protect against what is inside the castle, rather than to protect the castle from the outside world. Legend says that the castle was built on a rock through which a gap led all the way to Hell
. And it is above the gap where the castle chapel stands adorned with extremely mysterious Gothic murals that have no parallel in the world. Legends say that the gateway to Hell opened when the rock wall cracked, and demons could be spotted there regularly. It took three years of intense labour to fill the seemingly bottomless pit, and a castle chapel was built as the “gateway to Hell” on top of it. They also say that there are numerous underground passages and rooms below the castle where things that should never see the light of day are buried. The name of the castle is also interesting. Houska reportedly comes from the old Celtic word gosca
, which means gate. When touring the castle today, some visitors feel nausea or faintness, or they feel slightly dazed. Are you brave enough to go there?