Explore the Opulent Life of the Past in East Bohemia

Litomyšl Castle - Explore the Opulent Life of the Past in East Bohemia

When I told my family and friends I was visiting the Czech Republic for two weeks; they immediately said: “Oh, you are going to Prague!” Not quite. There is more to the Czech Republic than Prague, and I plan to show you how much there is to see outside of the city of Prague. There are numerous day trips from Prague you can take, starting with the East Bohemia and the Pardubice region. I was fortunate to be able to explore the opulent life of the past in East Bohemia by visiting numerous castles and chateaus. Do you happen to know the difference between the two?

Castle vs. Chateau

We had a considerable debate on this while we were traveling between the two. The definition of a castle is a large building or group of buildings fortified against attack with thick walls, battlements, towers, and in many cases a moat whereas the definition of a chateau is a large French country house or castle often giving its name to wine made in its neighborhood. See the confusion. No wonder as we toured these buildings what they were called depended on whom you were having the discussion.

Pardubice Chateau

front view of Chateau Pardubice

The Pardubice Chateau is an imposing fortified building by huge embankments with the artillery still preserved on them. The castle, as I call it, has been here since the end of the 13th century. The Pernštein family at the end of the 15th century invited the best Italian and Saxon artists to restore the castle, and it became a Gothic-Renaissance Chateau. You can see the Italian influences throughout the chateau. The East Bohemian Gallery has a permanent exhibit within the chateau, and there is also, a little unknown secret that a nuclear bunker was built into the chateau in the 1950s and holds up to 120 people. The Pardubice Chateau is open all year long, and there are tours available every Saturday. And yes if you are wondering, you can get tours in English.Inside view of Chateau Pardubice

The chateau has lovely grounds to walk around, and you might encounter a few of the 40 peacocks (including a white one) that live at the chateau/castle. Come on…peacocks are symbols of royalty, and there was even a moat that surrounded these buildings once. What do you think Chateau or Castle?

Hrad Kunětická hora

Explore the Opulent Life of the Past in East BohemiaReaching this castle takes a bit of a hike up the volcanic hill but, it is worth it for great sunset photos. If you are not up for the winding trail, during the day, there is a train that takes people from the parking lot up to the castle. Hrad Kunětická is a short distance from downtown Pardubice and is easily accessible by car or taxi. There are tours available during the day if you are interested in seeing the castle buildings and grounds. But, after a full day of wandering around Pardubice, Hrad Kunětická, is a great spot to unwind and capture the sunset. 

Castle Ruins Oheb

Castle ruins OhebOheb castle ruins are from the 11th century, but the consensus is that people lived here around 1455. Although the castle was abandoned by 1490. There is not much left to this castle although a hike up the Iron Mountains to this spot is worth the views at sunset. Some of the trails are steep even though I did climb this one and snuck in behind the window. Everyone else was smarter and moved further down and found lesser inclines to reach the top. Although I did make it to the edge to capture this shot before the rest showed up. I think it was worth the tricky maneuvering I had to do without hiking boots on.  What do you think? 

The entire area that you can see from the top is the largest recreation area in the Pardubice region. There is camping, biking, hiking, fishing, swimming, and even paddle boats. I was able to take a paddle boat over to the island on the left in the photo below. Amazing views from the top of the mountain and the bottom!Sunset over Lake Sec at Castle Ruins Oheb

Litomyšl Castle

Litomyšl Castle - Explore the Opulent Life of the Past in East Bohemia

Litomyšl is another wonderful city that is an easy day trip from Prague. It takes only 2 hours to drive or 3 hours by train. There is so much to see in this town. It is known as the center of old and new architecture. Plus, there are magnificent churches, beautiful gardens/parks, excellent restaurants, refreshing pubs, and of course my favorite, castles, can be found here. Oh, and the infamous shop to get the best chocolate is here and for those who know me, know that I don’t care for chocolate, but I did try some. When in Litomyšl…

Built around 1568-81, the Litomyšl castle and the gardens became registered as a UNESCO site in 1999. It is unique because it is opened on three sides. I stayed in the Chateau Apartments right across from the entrance into the castle and could open up the windows to look directly at the castle. Although when I did this, I let in lots of bugs. Oh well, to stay in Europe without air conditioning, this is the sacrifice you make.Litomyšl Chateau entranceLitomyšl Castle inside courtyard

This was one of my favorite castles/chateaus (here I go again) to visit in East Bohemia. By the way, the UNESCO signs call it a castle, but everyone calls this a chateau. I can’t win! We had a tour of the inside of the castle, and I was blown away at all the historical details still preserved beautifully. I was especially fascinated with the paintings throughout the castle inside and out. There are 8000 different paintings (envelopes) on the exterior, and the interior was painted with an optical illusion style to it.

Theater in the Litomyšl Castle

We started our tour in the theater where the family performed. The first performance was in 1798, and the last was in 1815. The theater is an example of the illusions style painting. The tour continued through the rest of the castle, and we were able to see a temporary exhibit of the costumes used in the Opera mixed with the elaborate castle room decor. Litomyšl Castle piano room

You know you are wealthy when your rubbish container is a box with book replicas on top of it. Unless it smells your guests won’t know there is trash underneath it.

The billiards room was pretty neat. I wouldn’t mind playing pool on this table. It is over 200 years and massively long. Litomyšl Castle billiards room

Cellar

This area was the coolest part of the castle as it housed an exhibition of sculptures by the famous sculptor Olbram Zoubek, who along with other artists were employed during the communist period to restore the sgraffito decorations on the castle. I was the only one exploring this exhibit which made it creepy and awesome at the same time. Some of his sculptures would raise some eyebrows here in the states, but I thought they were captivating. What do you think of these sculptures?Olbram Zoubek sculpturesMultiple Olbram Zoubek sculptures

And of course, you can’t leave the cellar of a castle without checking out the wine cellar. You can have wine tasting parties down here. And also, if you have a unique wine that needs to be temperature regulated, there is an older wine area for private owners.Litomyšl Castle wine cellar

Nové Hrady Chateau

Nové Hrady Chateau entranceNové Hrady ChateauNové Hrady Chateau is known as the “Czech Versailles” and lives up to that name. It is only one of a few rococo monuments in the Czech Republic. It was built between 1774 and 1777. Walking around the grounds, I felt I should have been in a very fancy dress sipping champagne while footmen stood every ten feet along the path offering snacks. What I found fascinating about this chateau is that a family still lives here. They allow visitors into their gardens to wander around or you can take a tour of the grounds. We decided to meander through the gardens to take some photos and found our way to the back of the chateau and was surprised to find a garden with actual vegetables growing in it. Look at the size of the onions they have grown!Nové Hrady Chateau gardenNové Hrady Chateau onion garden There is quite a lot to see here. You could easily stay here for half a day to explore everything including ruins of a castle, horses, trails, a farm, gardens, restaurant, cafe, and a maze for you to get lost.Nové Hrady Chateau mazeNové Hrady Chateau front view

Hrad Svojanov

Hrad SvojanovOur last stop to explore the opulent life of the past in East Bohemia was Hrad Svojanov. This castle was built around 1265 (13th century) and has had a few restorations due to age and fires to end up from a gothic to renaissance style. The outside walls are from the 15th century. This is the only castle in the Czech Republic that blends the Middle Ages with the 19th century. Hrad Svojanov living area

Hrad Svojanov watchtowerThe watchtower is 26 meters high and the views from the top are magnificent although you do have to climb a few ladders and one area is particularly dark (use the flashlight on your phone). Sunrise and sunset are both beautiful times to capture the valley.Hrad Svojanov gardensHrad Svojanov view of the valley We were treated to a night tour of the castle that was entertaining and exciting. They explained the history of the castle and then went into the ghost stories that are apart of the castle. Stay tuned for a future post on that! The Pardubice region is famous for its gingerbread and we were treated with snacks at the end of the tour along with a real live demonstration of a cannon firing that scared the bejeesus out of us (video will be uploaded later so you can laugh at us). What a perfect way to end the trip!Hrad Svojanov dining areaHrad Svojanov sitting area

Hrad Svojanov gingerbread

These were decoration only

As you can see there is more to see and experience in the Czech Republic outside of Prague. When you come to visit and you should (it is super affordable!) think about taking day trips outside of Prague or even come out and stay in the Pardubice region. You will be pleasantly surprised when you explore the opulent life of the past in East Bohemia!

If you are interested in visiting the Czech Republic pin this for later. 

Thank You to CzechTourism & East Bohemia for hosting me during my stay in the Czech Republic. As always opinions are 100% my own. 

No Comments

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin93
Share11
Tweet
+1
Share
104 Shares