This Season’s Must-See Castles

This Season’s Must-See Castles

Many historical sites will in 2019 somehow be connected by the lives of the Clam-Gallas noble family.

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The new tourist season, beginning for most of the landmarks in April, brings a lot of good news for visitors. One of them is a closer presentation of the noble family of Gallas and Clam-Gallas, which in the past owned many castles, chateaus and country estates. To find out more about their history, head to Northern Bohemia. Plan your trip to Frýdlant Castle, Grabštejn Castle and the Chateau of Lemberk, or to the small town of Hejnice and the city of Liberec, and familiarise yourself with the noble family that can be traced back more than 500 years through Czech history. Yet there are many other sites offering interesting travel tips and news, stay tuned!

Who are the Gallas and Clam-Gallas

The first Gallas on Czech lands was Matthias Gallas, a warrior and military strategist, and descendant of an Italian family who lived at the turn of 16th and 17th century. He came to Bohemia (the area of today’s Czech Republic) during the European Thirty Years' War and acquired great property here including Frýdlant Castle and the city of Liberec. His descendants were among the most important families within the Austrian Empire who always kept up with the times, for example, by supporting the formation of the present National Museum in Prague, and further had ties to musical greats such as Beethoven and Mozart. Places that are associated with the Gallas’ can be found in Northern Bohemia.

Oldest castle museum in Frýdlant

In 1801 the Clam-Gallas’, the first aristocratic family in Central Europe, opened their castle to visitors and the general public. Specifically, they made Frýdlant Castle accessible and opened their family museum there more than 200 years ago. The castle is still open to the public today! This year, therefore, the castle invites visitors on special tours and exhibitions as a part of the celebration. A detailed programme of this year's celebrations will be announced during the season on the castle’s website. And when you go to Frýdlant, you must not miss Hejnice with its pilgrimage temple and a family burial vault of this aristocratic family. And because it will be a typical Czech celebration, there must be plenty of beer. The castle brewery in Frýdlant has therefore prepared special beers that are brewed in honour of the individual members of the noble family.

Celebrations in Lemberk, Grabštejn and Liberec

The Lemberk Castle was owned by the Clam-Gallas family from the 18th century until the end of World War II. It will be the last decade the family spent in the castle that the exhibitions will focus on. There is even a special exhibition prepared for visitors that shows how the family lived in the castle between 1918 and 1945. Special Easter tours have been prepared by the Grabštejn Castle guides, which the family also owned. The climax of the whole year will be the Justice Without Fear: The Gallas’ and Clam-Gallas’ in Bohemia exhibition at the regional gallery in Liberec, which will run from 13 December 2019 until 1 March 2020. The exhibition will acquainted visitors in more detail with the scope of the family’s dealings in military affairs, business, charity, the arts and the administration of estates.

Other news of the 2019 tourist season

Most of the castles and chateaus opened their gates to visitors last weekend. The official tourist season has thus begun, the sites are open all week except Monday, and some are at least open on the weekends. And what can you look forward to?
  • Jindřichův Hradec: a Chateau in Southern Bohemia will present a new tour called the Czernin family (Černínové). Diplomats, explorers, collectors. It introduces the last owners of the castle – the Czernin noble family. And what will you see? A unique diplomatic gift of the Turkish Sultan to the imperial envoy, paintings by famous Italian artists, a variety of honours, uniforms and much more.
  • Zákupy Chateau near Bohemian Paradise (Český ráj) opens it’s already third guided tour named Chateau in the Times of President Masaryk, which maps Zákupy in the first half of the 20th century. On selected days of the season, the chateau will also open its exceptionally large castle cellar and historical operational facilities including the kitchen and the laundry room to the public.
  • Invalidovna: after many years the Invalidovna complex in Prague's Karlín finally opens to the public! From 5 April, Friday to Sunday, you can visit the architectural gem from the Baroque master Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer before it undergoes an extensive restoration, which should be completed by 2025. Invalidovna once served as accommodation of war invalids, and in recent years it has been looking for a new use. It has often served as a movie backdrop with classics such as the Oscar winning Amadeus being filmed here.
  • Konopiště Chateau: the famous castle of the Central Bohemian region opens a new evening guided tour in April. The tour introduces King Rudolf I and the knight period, Emperor Rudolf II and the times of alchemy, and the twilight of the Habsburg imperial family shown through the life of the successor to the throne. 

Most visited castles and palaces

Today there are several hundred Czech castles and chateaus open to the public, most of which belong to the state. Only a small number of them are in possession of the descendants of nobility. This variety gives you a choice to visit either a Gothic, Renaissance or Baroque castle. For lovers of each style or period there is a vast choice of sites to choose from. And which state-owned sites were the most popular in 2018? The highest number of visitors were attracted to the castle in Český Krumlov. Second place is held by  Lednice Chateau. Both of these places are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Third is Hluboká nad Vltavou Chateau in South Bohemia. This is followed by Karlštejn Castle, Valtice Castle, Konopiště Chateau, Kroměříž Castle, Sychrov Castle, Křivoklát Castle, and the top ten most visited monuments concludes with the Moravian Bouzov Castle. And how about you, will you be among the 6 million visitors who visit historical Czech sites each year?