Telč Chateau – A Jewell of the Renaissance

The southern facade of the chateau from the garden.
The southern facade of the chateau from the garden.

Through History, Unblemished

Telč, in the Vysočina region of the country, is one of the Czech Republic’s most visited municipalities. Through the city’s UNESCO listed centre and well preserved Renaissance facades which line it on all side, it’s little wonder Telč is one of the best known attractions to visitors even before they set foot in the country.

Sitting at the north end of the town square is the city’s chateau, which shares the square’s UNESCO status. The chateau is considered one of the most important and best preserved Renaissance structures in the Czech Republic and has, through a series of very careful owners, made its journey to the present day with no major alterations made to it since it was converted from a Gothic castle in the late 1500s.

The importance of Telč chateau is found in its authenticity. In the 19th century, there was something of a trend for overdone “Restoration” of chateaus and other such buildings which led to authenticity being sacrificed for more romanticized tastes. The owners of Telč Chateau at the time did not indulge in this trend and, as a result, the chateau is a very good representative of true Renaissance design sensibilities.

A view of the chateau's courtyard.
A view of the chateau’s courtyard.

A Conscientious Heir

The chateau’s current appearance can largely be credited to nobleman Zachariáš of Hradec, who inherited Telč and various other land holdings from his father in the mid 1500s.

Zachariáš was one of a delegation of Czech aristocrats who traveled to Italy in 1551 and returned inspired and influenced by the architecture he saw there. Upon his return to the Czech lands, he took up permanent residence in Telč and set about the remodeling of the Gothic castle into a Renaissance chateau.

Zachariáš’ presence and activities in Telč brought a turn of prosperity and increased living standards in the town. In turn, this allowed Zachariáš to bring Italian masters to the town to oversee the remodeling work. As a result, the chateau is considered a very good example of how Italian styles of the period influenced areas north of the Alps.

Major construction on the chateau concluded in 1580 and Zachariáš died in 1589. A very important aspect of the chateau’s history is that it has never been sold, simply passed from one family to another over the centuries. Every successive owner has left the chateau intact and largely faithful to its late 16th century appearances.

A view of the chateau gardens
A view of the chateau gardens

A Walk Around the Grounds

Enclosed by the chateau walls is a garden which dates to the 1570s and is one of the oldest architectural gardens in the country. bordered by arcades and park benches, the gardens are a great place to relax after a guided tour of the stunning chateau interiors.

Outside the chateau walls is the chateau park which includes many centuries old trees, unusual woody plants and a greenhouse of Classicist design.

For slightly different perspectives on the chateau, one can climb the narrow and rather challenging stairs of the viewing tower across the street from the chateau and look into the garden from above. Alternately, you could rent a rowboat on the nearby fish pond and view the chateau from the water.

A view over the chateau to the fish pond beyond from the viewing tower near the chateau.
A view over the chateau to the fish pond beyond from the viewing tower near the chateau.

Paying a Visit and Learning More

A visit to the chateau is a must if you visit Telč, there’s really no reason not to given that it’s on the main square of the town.

There are two tours of the chateau, one of the Renaissance halls and one of the Residential rooms. You can purchase just one tour or a package of both.

A visit to the chateau’s website will tell you much more about the building’s history as well as opening hours and admission prices:

http://www.telc.eu/tourist_attractions/chateau

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