Mansion on the Hill
Náměšť nad Oslavou is a town in the Vysočina highlands surrounded by atmospheric and idylic woodlands that are very popular with hikers and other outdoors enthusiasts. The town can trace its history to the early 1200s, when the first record of a settlement on the banks of the Oslava river in the area can be found.
Today, the town’s main tourist draw is the Renaissance style chateau perched on a hill overlooking the townsite and the Oslava river below. Near the bottom of the hill where the chateau stands is a small Baroque style bridge modelled after Prague’s historic Charles bridge, with statues of saints lining its edges. From this bridge, one can get an unobstructed view up the hill towards the chateau.
Historically, the spot where the chateau stands was once occupied by a Gothic castle. The Renaissance chateau dates to a reconstruction of the castle which took place in the late 1500s and early 1600s. The present face of the chateau dates to repair work that took place in 2016 to restore the building’s Renaissance facades and other structures.
The chateau grounds contain gardens of English and French design that contain a number of rare species of flora.
From its position at the top of a hill, the chateau provides visitors with some truly stunning views of the surrounding woodlands, the Náměšť nad Oslavou townsite and the Oslava river which flows near the foot of the hill the chateau is situated on.
As it is with so many old noble homes, this chateau has passed through a number of owners in its history. Of the owners that Náměšť chateau has known, the Žerotín and Haugwitz families were the most influential and significant to its history.
The Žerotín Era
The Žerotín family was one of the oldest of Czech noble houses and they owned the chateau and surrounding area from the 1460s to the 1620s.
Under their ownership, the chateau was remodelled in Renaissance style, this is particularly visible in the arcaded courtyard.
With the presence of the Žerotíns came an increase in the quality of life in the area through economic growth as well as an elevated cultural life.
During their time as lords in the area, the House of Žerotín supported the publication of the Kralice Bible in the 1600s. Printed in the nearby town of Kralice, the Kralice Bible was the first translation of the Bible into the Czech language. A copy of the book is on display in the chateau library.
The Žerotíns sold the chateau in the 1620s and it experienced more changes of ownership until the Haugwitz family purchased it in 1752.
The Haugwitz Era
The Haugwitz family was a noble line of Silesian origins who owned the chateau from the 1750s until the end of the Second World War, when it was seized by the state.
The enriched cultural and economic life of the region that was brought by the Žerotíns was continued and built upon by the House of Haugwitz.
Under the Haugwitz watch, the chateau became a centre of musical culture. The chateau had its own orchestra and choir which performed frequent concerts of very high quality. The chateau also saw famous musical guests visit such as the composers Christoph Willibald Gluck and Antonio Salieri.
Beyond the musical legacy that the Haugwitz family left the chateau, they are also notable for being a noble family who was openly opposed to Fascism during Hitler’s rise to power and the Second World War. While that did not save them from having their properties in Czechoslovakia seized by the state following the war and being expelled from the country along with many others of Germanic descent, it has ensured that the descendants of the family have been welcome and regular guests at the chateau since the fall of Socialism.
Paying a Visit and Learning More
The chateau offers three different tours. It is possible to have tours in English or German, but they require reservations. You can also join a Czech language tour and ask for a text transcript in English or possibly other languages. Czech language tours are more frequent and typically cheaper.
Náměšť nad Oslavou is not difficult to reach by rail from Brno. However, to reach the chateau on foot from the town’s train station involves a walk of around 20 to 30 minutes that ends with a climb up the hill that the chateau sits on. As such, a reasonable level of physical fitness is required if you wish to reach the chateau that way.
You can also reach the chateau by bicycle and there are locking stands near the chateau’s ticket office. If you travel by car, there is some free parking approximately 200 metres from the chateau.
There is also a small café at the chateau where you can rest and recharge before or after a tour.
This link will take you to the chateau’s official website:
Official chateau website
This link will give you more inforamtion about the Kralice Bible:
Kralice Bible article