Manětín – the Baroque pearl of west Bohemia

Manětín – the Baroque pearl of west Bohemia

In the region of countess Lažanská

Manětín Chateau is situated in the small west Bohemian town of Manětín below Chlumská Mountain, north of Pilsen. The local countryside is forested, relatively sparsely populated and its specific profile is composed of hills of volcanic origin, between which the romantic valley of the Střela River with its tributaries winds.
With its history and culture, Manětín looks as a small miracle there. That’s why it has been nicknamed the “Baroque pearl of west Bohemia” for a long time. The local chateau saw its greatest flourishing in the Baroque period in the 17th century under countess Maria Gabriela Lažanská. On a tour of the chateau, you can get an insight into the life of the then nobility. A lovely Baroque garden belongs to the chateau building.
Countess Lažanská was a notable personality of that time. At the age of twenty, she already had four children and she had been widowed recently. On top of that, she looked after the whole estate devastated by a fire. Despites that, she managed to turn Manětín into a cultural and social centre.

At the same time, she knew how to enjoy life and she became a rare emancipated and well-known noblewoman in that period. From her journey to Italy she brought the remains of two saints – Justina and Inocencia from two popes. They are deposited in the decanal Church of St John the Baptist. From the same journey she also brought a black man as her personal servant and a recipe for macaroni, which was an unknown meal in the Czech lands then. She was a passionate card player and she entered into her accounts how much money and when she had lost. She hosted magnificent social events whether at Manětín or in Prague, where the Lažanský family owned a palace. She loved music and amateur theatre, which was played on her courtyard.

Fatal cards

Playing cards also turned out to be almost fatal for her. She staked the whole estate when playing cards once. However, the situation was saved by countess’s valet Karásek, who saw the cards of everyone when topping up wine and anticipated that the countess would lose. He decided to intervene and he toppled the table with wine, which brought an end to the game. In return, the countess donated him a mill on the Střela River. It has been called Karásek’s Mill (Karáskův mlýn) to this day.

Countess Lažanská was also progressive in that she greatly esteemed her employees. We can still admire a gallery of portraits of the local servants in the chateau today. Manětín Chateau is adjacent to the central square, in which you will see the Baroque Church of St John the Baptist and almost 30 Baroque statues and sculptural groups.

Every year, Manětín also hosts one of the stops of the Summer Baroque Festival, which always attracts several thousand visitors. Not only Baroque and history lovers but, in particular, also children will enjoy themselves at the festival thanks to a number of period games and thematic demonstrations. Manětín is also one of the stops as part of Baroque bikeways that wind through the Baroque countryside to discover the architectural gems of the north of Pilsen District.