Thursday, 26 March 2015

Czech Castles - Zvíkov

Let us start my occasional series of posts on Czech castles with the castle often referred to as the "king of Czech castles" - Zvíkov. I first went there with a tour by an archaeological society on our way up from the Šumava to Prague Airport. It was a perfect point for breaking the journey.

Few castles can have such a naturally defensible position: Zvíkov stands on a rocky promontory at the junction of the Vltava and Otava rivers accessible only along a narrow strip of land (see photo above). Also in the photograph you can see the tower which has atear-shaped footprint designed to deflect artillery. The castle's defences were so impenetrable that the Hussites were unable to take it after four months of siege. 

As you enter the castle's courtyards you discover that Zvíkov is not just an impressive fortification. The castle was a royal residence and the two-storey arcaded palace is lovely. Inside the palace you will find an absolute gem - The Chapel of St Wenceslas. Here restorers found under a coat of whitewash a series of late 15th century wall paintings. There are further paintings on the walls of the arcade and in the Wedding Hall. 

Zvíkov is less known and less visited by foreign tourists, although plenty of Czechs enjoy the castle's treasures. One reason for this is the absence of easy public transport links or tourist minibus routes. However there is a beautiful way to arrive at the castle: take the boat from Týn nad Vltavou or Orlík dam.

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