If you’re planning a trip to the Czech Republic you’re probably excited to dive right into history and architecture in the capital city. Novelist Franz Kafka once said, “Prague never lets you go”, but those who tear themselves away from the city are in for a real treat. The small landlocked Central European nation is said to be home to over 200 beautiful, ornate castles and châteaux – most of which aren’t in Prague. Adventure awaits you at all of the best castles in the Czech Republic.
1. Kost Castle
Tucked away in a thick forest in the Cesky Raj region is the Kost Castle, or the Bone Castle. Named for its impenetrable, thick walls, Kost Castle is the best-preserved Gothic castle in the Czech Republic. This charming castle is set on a low promontory overlooking fishponds that give it a moated effect.
It is believed that the first proposal for construction of the castle was in 1349. Despite undergoing some work in the 1950s, Kost Castle retains most of its original features.
Tour the main interiors and learn about Kost Castle’s current owners or take a tour of the trapezoidal White Tower that was built specially to minimize missile damage and the medieval torture chamber.
Kost Castle and the surrounding countryside are definitely worth a trip from Prague.
2. Orlik Castle
The majestic Orlik Castle has been home to many Bohemian kings over the centuries. It was once home to Field Marshall Charles Philip, the commander of the allied armies against Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig.
Castle Orlik dates back to the second half of the 13th century. The castle changed hands and was renovated a number of times over the centuries. Castle Orlik was transformed from a wooden fort to a Gothic stone castle in the 14th century to a Renaissance-style castle two centuries later, before finally being renovated in the Neo-Gothic style in the 19th century.
The castle contains artwork depicting historical events and personalities, weaponry from the 16th to the 20th century, the largest private collection of hunting rifles in the Czech Republic and personal gifts Napoleon gave to Charles Philip when they were allies. Step into history as you marvel at the castle’s fantastic ceilings and wander around the perfectly preserved private rooms of the Schwarzenberg family.
3. Hluboka Castle
One of the most famous and most visited castles in the Czech Republic is the Hluboka Castle. Hluboka Castle is a National Cultural Monument and is regarded as one of the most beautiful castles in the Czech Republic.
Located close to České Budějovice, the castle was originally established in the second half of the 13th century. After royal control of the castle was relinquished, the Schwarzenberg family gained possession of the structure in 1661 and began a series of reconstructions. The castle’s present day Neo-Gothic appearance is based on the English castle of Windsor.
Castle Hluboka consists of 140 richly decorated rooms and 11 impressive towers and bastions, all surrounded by a gorgeous park. The castle’s walls and ceilings on the first story are paneled with precious wood with unusually rich workmanship and carving decoration. The bedroom and dressing room of Princess Eleonore, the Hamilton’s closet and the reading room are all decorated with paintings by European masters of the 16th – 18th centuries, beautiful chandeliers, late Renaissance window panes and Delft china. The most precious pieces of furniture are situated in the Morning Drawing Room and complemented with painted Chinese vases from the 18th century.
You’ll be glad you decided to visit this lovely castle, and movie buffs may even recognize this gem from Shanghai Knights and Underworld: Blood Wars.
4. Rabi Castle
Rabi Castle is the largest castle ruin in Bohemia. Nestled near the Sumava Mountains and over the Otava River, this unique monument to Gothic architecture was proclaimed a National Cultural Monument in 1978.
Rabi Castle has witnessed many turbulent periods in history and seen many dramatic events under a slew of different noble owners. After a devastating fire in the 1800s, the castle unfortunately began to fall into ruin. The dominant feature of the castle, however, remains the residential tower, from which it is possible to view the vast majority of the Southwestern Bohemia. Lots of interesting surprises are waiting at Rabi Castle.
5. Karlstejn Castle
30 kilometers southwest of Prague, Karlstejn Castle started life in 1348 as a hideaway for the crown jewels of Emperor Charles IV, and has since risen in the ranks to one of the best castles in the Czech Republic.
After centuries of lying in near ruin, much needed restorative work has restored the Gothic castle to all its former glory, making it an immensely popular destination. The bustling tourist crowds are a stark contrast to the peaceful surrounding countryside which offers views of Karlstejn’s stunning exterior.
Apart from beautifully furnished rooms, gaze in awe at duplicates of the Czech crown jewels, the crown jewels of the Holy Roman Empire, and an ancient well nearly 100 meters deep.
Visit the Knight’s Hall, still daubed with the coats-of-arms and names of knights, Charles IV’s Bedchamber, the Audience Hall and the Jewel House, which includes a replica of the St. Wenceslas Crown. Or tour the Marian Tower, with the Church of the Virgin Mary and the Chapel of St. Catherine, then move to the Great Tower for the castle’s star attraction: the exquisite Chapel of the Holy Cross, its walls and vaulted ceiling are adorned with thousands of polished semi-precious stones set in gilt stucco.
Another exciting option is to take the third tour and visit the upper levels of the Great Tower so you can bask in stunning vistas over the surrounding countryside.
Set out for the most visited castle in the Czech Republic and discover the treasures it has hidden for centuries!
6. Lednice Castle
Lednice Castle is a majestic castle set in the village of Lednice, against the backdrop of the largest park in the Czech Republic. In fact, Lednice Castle and its surrounding park are so gorgeous and dreamy you might think they’ve been ripped from the pages of your favorite fairy tale.
Following the country’s move toward communist nationalism at the close of World War II, the Windsor-like castle suffered losses to its furniture and trimmings. In this massive castle built originally as a summer cottage for aristocrats, marvel at original nature-themed Chinese wallpaper, larger pieces of furniture and the amazing staircase carved from a single piece of wood.
Registered as an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996, Lednice Castle is one of the most beautiful complexes in the English Neo-Gothic style in Europe. A visit to Lednice Castle means a tour of the marvelous halls and private rooms of one of the most beautiful castles in the Czech Republic.
7. Krivoklat Castle
The forested Krivoklatsko landscape conceals one of the best castles in the Czech Republic, Krivoklat Castle. Originally built in the 12th century during the reign of Přemysl Otakar II, various royals thereafter have made adjustments to the structure.
The castle has had a long and varied history: damaged by fire several times, and in a departure from the castle’s original purpose for being established, Krivoklat Castle became a prison for a number of years. Today, the castle serves as a museum and tourist destination, housing old hunting weapons, Gothic paintings and books.
Vestiges of Czech kings and the splendor of their lifestyle is still evident today at every step. During a tour, you’ll be dazzled by the interiors of the late Gothic chapel and the star vault of the Royal Hall. Take a peek in the castle library that is home to 52,000 books and enjoy the splendid view from the Great Tower. Get your spook on (and your dose of history) as you visit the torture chamber.
If you stop by during the first week of August, be sure to enjoy the traditional craft fair and woodcarvers’ festival in the castle courtyard. Watch dozens of master woodcarvers at work and marvel at their finished pieces on display. Packed with a variety of history, Krivoklat Castle will keep the whole family interested.
8. Bezdez Castle
Bezdez Castle is a Gothic castle constructed in the 13th century by the order of Přemysl Otakar II. Erected on the phonolite hill of Velky Bezdez more than 1,000 feet above sea level, it became the characteristic dominant feature of the local landscape.
Bezdez Castle is one of the most significant Gothic monuments in the country and has historical roots in Czech folklore and literature. The castle even offers a romantic panoramic view of the gently rolling hills, further adding to the castle’s charm.
Nicknamed the “king of all castles” for its original early Gothic appearance, this castle is certainly one of the best places to visit in the Czech Republic.
The premises of the original upper castle are open to visitors. They comprise a valuable early Gothic chapel and the old royal palace. From Bezdez’s tower you can see a quarter of the country when the weather is clear. The unforgettable atmosphere of the castle is enhanced by the frequent costumed parades, medieval celebrations and theater performances that take place there.
9. Konopiste Castle
Konopiste Castle is located about 50 kilometers away from Prague. Made famous as the last residence of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir of the Austro-Hungarian throne, the castle was initially constructed as a Gothic fortification during the 13th century and was later transformed in a Baroque style.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria bought Konopiste Castle in 1887 and rebuilt it into a luxurious residence.
Learn about the Archduke and his family while you visit his residential rooms and view his collection of antlers, the armory with medieval weapons, a shooting hall with moving targets and stroll around the garden dotted with Italian Renaissance statues and greenhouses.
10. Bouzov Castle
Visit the romantic castle gem of Central Moravia and be transported back to the days when it was the seat of the Teutonic Knights! Bouzov Castle, one of the most visited castles in the Czech Republic, is located just 35 kilometers from Olomouc.
The castle was initially constructed as a Gothic stronghold in the early 14th century. In the 15th century, fortifications were enlarged and strengthened, and in the 16th and 17th centuries the castle was gradually converted into a residential site. It was rebuilt in the Romantic style by the Habsburg Archduke Eugene and turned into a summer seat of the Teutonic Knights at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Fully furnished and equipped, the castle’s romantic interiors are swathed with rich paintings and carvings. Ascend the watchtower and visit the courtroom and observatory. Learn about the castle’s Neo-Gothic chapel and its altar decorated with tombstones. Kids (and big kids at heart) will delight in the cellar exhibition devoted to life-size fairytale dragons and the knights who fought them. People of all ages loves visiting Bouzov Castle.
11. Sovinec Castle
Sovinec Castle rises proudly up on a cone-shaped rocky promontory in the mountainous Rešov region. Built in the 14th century, the castle was once captured by the Swedish army of General Torstenson. During World War II the castle was used as a prison and base for the Schutzstaffel (SS) – a Nazi paramilitary group. On the contrary, during the Period of Normalisation Sovinec Castle became a place for banned Czech artists to present their work.
Admire the robust medieval edifices and castle fortifications, which are the most extensive preserved fortifications in the country dating back to the Thirty Years War. Enjoy the exhibitions, medieval markets and fencing tournaments held on this historical site.
Learn about the castle’s part in centuries of history as you take in the breathtaking view of the Czech countryside.
12. Cesky Krumlov Castle
The name of the castle is a reflection of the landscape, meaning ‘the place on the rugged meadow’. The mighty complex of Cesky Krumlov Castle rests on rocks sculpted by the Vltava River and the Polečnice Stream, overlooking the refined Renaissance and Baroque architecture of the whimsical labyrinth-like town below.
The castle complex is one of the largest in central Europe, and the second largest castle complex in the Czech Republic. It consists of forty buildings and palaces, situated around five castle courts and a castle park spanning an area of 7 hectares.
The main tower of the castle features a beautiful and colorful facade, sure to capture your eye and your imagination. The castle’s beautiful Baroque garden dates back to the 17th century and is situated on a slope adjacent to the castle. In the Castle Garden you will find a large cascading fountain featuring stone allegories of the four seasons and water deities, manicured lawns, flower beds and hedges, a modern rotating theater, a pleasant forest and a large pond at the edge of the garden. You can also visit the Castle Lapidarium, the main cellar area, which now houses the original statues from the Cloak Bridge and the Castle Garden.
In 1989 the castle was named a National Monument for its historic importance in Central Europe and the Czech Republic. Truly one of the best castles in the Czech Republic, you’ll get lost in awe and wonder in the chambers and courtyards of this UNESCO-protected gem.
13. Decin Castle
Decin is the largest town and administrative seat of the Decin District. From 1938 to 1945 it was one of the municipalities in Sudetenland, then controlled by Nazi Germany. Perched atop its cliff and nestled where the Ploucnice meets the Elbe, is Decin Castle.
This castle is one of the oldest and largest landmarks in the Bohemian region. It is one of the biggest and historically most important buildings of its kind in the Czech Republic. In the past several hundred years it has served as a point of control for the Bohemian princes, a military fortress, and a noble estate. Between 1628 and 1932 Decin Castle welcomed a parade of famous guests, including famed musician Chopin, who composed his Decin Waltz there. For much of the 20th century, the castle served as army barracks.
Visit the chambers of former lords, enjoy wonderful views of the town, and bask in the magic of the Rose Garden while spending a fantastic afternoon at Decin Castle.
14. Radun Castle
About 10 kilometers away from Hradec nad Moravicí and Kravare, Radun Castle is a Renaissance palace surrounded by a pleasant park in English style. The castle has a number of ponds and the Radunka stream flows down through the park.
Go straight to the castle for a tour, or if you want to get the most out of your time then you can also take a more interesting route around the grounds to see the stream, vast meadow, conservatory and more. An ideal place for a lovely walk around the grounds, the atmosphere of Radun Castle is wonderfully contagious.
15. Jindrichuv Hradec Castle
Jindrichuv Hradec Castle is the third largest historical castle complex in the country after those in Prague and Cesky Krumlov. At the beginning of the 13th century it was built as a Gothic castle, but gradually it was re-imagined and rebuilt into a Renaissance château in the 16th century. It covers 3.5 hectares of land and has an astonishing 320 rooms. More than 10,000 works of art and books may be found there. Four different tours are available, but the absolute must-see is the Knight Hall, home to murals of The Legend of Saint George from 1338.
Destroyed by a fire in 1773, it wasn’t until the 20th century that Jindrichuv Hradec Castle was returned to its stunning beauty. Today, the courtyards play regular host to all types of festivals, concerts, and other cultural events. The impressive château and its palaces surrounded by picturesque ponds and forests secure Jindrichuv Hradec as one of the most beautiful castles in the Czech Republic.
16. Pernstejn Castle
One of the most beautiful of the Moravian castles has stood deep in the forests of the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands for almost eight centuries now. Pernstejn Castle is a castle on a rock above the village of Nedvedice and the rivers Svratka and Nedvedicka.
Fondly called ‘The Marble Castle’, Pernstejn Castle’s doors and windows are framed with marble-like stone. This well-preserved masterpiece has never been captured because of the ingenuity of its defense system. The castle’s strategic location high on a rock, its excavated dikes, drawbridges and tall ramparts and towers all conspired to keep the castle secure from enemy forces. Should enemy forces have breached the castle walls, the five-storey “Barborka” tower with its narrow corridors and armed guards, only connected to the surrounding buildings by two wooden bridges, would keep the nobles safe.
Walk the castle halls and learn about castle folklore. Legends say the White Lady is the ghost of a chambermaid who was rude to a monk and was cursed for all eternity as a result. Today, it is believed that her ghost haunts Pernstejn Castle. Watch out for castle mirrors! The White Lady often preened in the mirror instead of doing her duties, and now women who visit the castle and look in any of its mirrors are in danger of losing their beauty within a year. Walking on narrow, spiraling staircases, gazing up at vaulted ceilings and visiting the Baroque chapel will take you on an unforgettable journey to periods past.
17. Kokorin Castle
The Kokorin Castle is located in the middle of a nature reserve on a steep rocky outcrop above the Kokorin Valley, north of the village of the same name. Built in the first half of the 14th century and heavily damaged during the Hussite Wars, the Austrian Emperor Ferdinand included this desolate medieval residence in “the cursed castles”, which were forbidden to be repaired after the Thirty Years War.
The castle became a refuge for marauding knights who threatened the wider surroundings, but later served as inspiration for many 19th writers and painters. After being purchased by a Prague businessman, the castle was reconstructed between 1911 and 1918 and opened to the public.
The castle was nationalized in the 1950s during the period of nationalization. Kokorin Castle has been a designated national cultural landmark since 2001. Housed in a landscape full of forgotten villages, small lakes, and sandstone, you’re in for a lovely surprise at Kokorin Castle.
18. Trosky Castle
Trosky Castle is situated 10 kilometers south of Semily overlooking the gorgeous rocky and lush green landscape of Cesky raj. It is one of the most famous Czech castles and rests on the summits of two basalt volcanic plugs. On the lower peak is the two-storey structure called Baba (Old Woman), and on the higher outcrop is Panna (Virgin).
The castle is a landmark in the Cesky raj countryside known for its unique appearance and origin. In addition to the standard tours, the castle’s administration also offers night tours of this National Monument and weekend activities focused on families with children.
The towers of the ruins of this Gothic castle are definitely worth viewing. The picturesque ruins are still loved by poets, artists, photographers and romantics alike.
19. Cesky Sternberk Castle
Cesky Sternberk Castle is a mid-13th century Gothic castle located on the west side of the River Sazava overlooking a village with the same name.
The castle has belonged to the same family for 800 years. Tour the castle and visit 15 lavish rooms furnished in the style of various historical periods, learn about the Sternberg family (the oldest still-existing Czech family) and view the unique Sternberk collection of copper engravings from the Thirty Years’ War, which is one of the largest monothematic collections of engravings in Europe.
Be sure to visit the former monastery in Sazava, 12 kilometres away. Once the center of Slavic education, the monastery’s greatest treasure is the Sazava Madonna, the only one in the world in which she appears to be disciplining the young Jesus!
20. Ledec Nad Sazavou Castle
Ledec nad Sazavou is the third largest town in the Havlickuv Brod region. Established in the first half of 13th century, Ledec nad Sazavou Castle was renovated over the course of its life in the Renaissance and Baroque styles, making it one of the most beautiful castles in the Czech Republic.
Its most recent renovation took place after a fire in 1879, and in spite of the renovative work done, many structural architectural elements have survived, such as the cylindrical tower, the Renaissance loggia, and two gates. The castle’s museum is located on the ground floor of the Maly palac (Small Palace) in the castle’s upper courtyard. The exposition features a one-of-a-kind installation that depicts how museums presented their exhibits in the 1930s. Items on display showcase the city’s history with the products and tools of the local craftsmen, guild relics, and a rich numismatic collection, along with a collection of paintings.
Ledec nad Sazavou Castle also has a weapons collection on display, in addition to occasional painting and photography exhibits put on in the museum. In the summer months, the castle complex plays host to occasional fencing, theater, and musical performances.
Conquer 111 stairs to be rewarded with an impressive view of the surrounding landscape from one of the best Czech castles.
After reading about the most beautiful castles in the Czech Republic, we hope this article has shown you that there really is so much more to this country than just Prague. Go see for yourself – travel throughout the country and witness some of the beautiful castles, chateaux and ruins we’ve featured above!