Other Voices – A Word from Chlohemian

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Village of Rakové. (photo: C.Skye “Chlohemian”)

Echoes

This week, I’m giving some space to a great post by a fellow Czech blogger, Chloe, who runs the Chlohemian blog.

Chloe currently lives in Denmark, but she spent some time living in the Czech Republic and got taken into a Czech family.

Very recently, she wrote a piece about how the Communist regime that fell over 30 years ago still affects the Czech psyche today. It makes for some fascinating and absorbing reading:

Link to article at Chlohemian.com

So, I was Interviewed about the Czech Republic!

An Interview with Alexandra Kid News Interviews

Not so very long ago, I sat down to a Skype interview with Alexandra, the energetic young lady behind the Alexandra Kid News Interviews channel on Youtube.

Her interview with me is the 13th in a series of interviews she has done with people around the world.

In our interview, we covered the Czech reaction to the COVID-19 crisis as well as some general details about life in the country.

Here’s the interview. Make sure you take a look at the other interviews on her channel and spread the word about them:

Quarantine Measures Ease in the Czech Republic

Coming up for Air

As of today, a number of the quarantine measures the Czech Government put in place starting on March 13 to contend with the Coronavirus outbreak are being eased.

While the two metre distance rule between people is still expected to be observed in public, it is no longer compulsory to wear a mask while outside and can maintain proper distancing. For now, you still need to wear a mask when going indoors in public places or when using public transportation.

Hotels have been allowed to open while pubs and restaurants have been allowed to reopen their interior areas.

Castles and chateaus are reopening as are public swimming pools.

Elementary school children are being allowed to return to classes of reduced size and at their parents’ discretion.

To keep updated on changes, the following English language news sites can be useful:

Radio Praha

Brno Daily

Dolní Vítkovice – Precious Mettle

Legacy of Steel 

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View of a section of the Dolní Vitkovice site. The round building is called “Gong” and is a former gas container repurposed to a multi-use auditorium.

When the term “Steel City” is heard, many places around the world may come to mind. Many of these places retain their reputations as steel cities well after production of the metal has fully ceased or been much reduced there.

In the Czech Republic, no place is more deeply associated with steel production than the north eastern city of Ostrava, most specifically the Vítkovice district of the city. In this area of the city, you will find the sprawling site of the Dolní Vítkovice ironworks.

As a functioning ironworks, the facility was permanently closed in 1998. However, the Dolní Vítkovice  site has a history of iron production that reaches back to Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The first ironworks on the site was established in 1828. Due the rich bituminous coal and iron ore deposits in the Moravian regions, the site was a logical place to establish an ironworks. It was created upon the order of Archduke Rudolf Johann Habsburg (1788-1831); the Archduke was also the Archbishop of Olomouc. Following Rudolf Johann’s death, ownership of the ironworks and foundry passed first through the hands of Archbishopric of Oloumouc and ultimately into the hands of the Austrian branch of the Rothschild banking family in 1843.

The Rothschild era of ownership saw constant expansion and modernization of coal mining as well as iron and steel production at the site. It grew to be the biggest and most important iron and steel production site in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and was a key producer of armaments for the Austro-Hungarian military until the end of the First World War.

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Looking at the immensity of the site from ground level.

With the exception of the economic downturn immediately following the First World War and the Great Depression, the coal, iron and steel operations at Vítkovice took the interwar years in their stride and stayed strong.

Rothschild ownership lasted until the annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938.

The Vítkovice Mines, Steel and Ironworks Corporation, as the company had been known under Rothschild ownership, was nationalized following the Second World War and renamed Vítkovice Ironworks State Property in 1946.

Modernization and expansion at Vítkovice continued through the Socialist era and the company was involved in many projects at home and abroad. This was a trend that would continue into the post Socialist period.

As it did for all companies in former Socialist countries in Europe, the fall of Socialism brought much change to Vítkovice in the way of company structure and diversification of operations. With a strong reputation built over more than a century of continuous operations, Vítkovice continued strongly into the post Socialist era with fabrication of steel structures at home and abroad. The actual production of steel, however, was another matter.

In 1998 the blast furnace at the company’s iron and steel works was run for the last time, closing a chapter of company history over 160 years long. While the Vítkovice company survived, the foundry at Dolní Vítkovice fell into disuse and the ensuing layoffs of employees in the nation’s coal mining and steel industry plunged Ostrava and much of the north east of the country into high levels of unemployment.

Happily, through the early 2000s up to the present, the fortunes of Ostrava have changed for the better as several domestic and foreign companies have discovered it to be a good place to set up offices and do business.

To Scrap or to Save? 

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Looking toward Blast Furnace 1 and the Bolt Tower.

Even before the foundry and associated industrial sites were shut down, there had been much debate over what to do with them. While many people pushed to have it demolished and sold for scrap, many others drove to have it preserved as part of the nation’s industrial heritage.

Ultimately, those who pushed for preservation were victorious and the Czech government proclaimed it a National Heritage Site in 2002. It has been on the country’s list of tentative UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2001 together with other associated sites as “The Industrial Complexes at Ostrava”. The push for UNESCO listing comes from the area being unique in that the facility was so large the entire steel making process from the mining of the coal to the finished iron and steel could be done in one place and that it was done on that spot, uninterupted, for so long.

Given how inextricably linked coal mining as well as iron and steel industry is to not only Ostrava’s history, but also to the entire north east of the Czech Republic, it made perfect sense to preserve the facilities at Dolní Vítkovice. Doing so has given the city a tourist draw to compensate for what was lost after the facilities were closed.

If you’re interested in industrial monuments, Ostrava is definitely the place to go when you’re in the Czech Republic. This is not only because of the monuments, but also because of the distinctly working class and non-touristy atmosphere of Ostrava.

Dolní Vítkovice has the nickname “Hradčany of Ostrava”. The nickname is in reference to the Hradčany district of Prague, where Prague Castle is located, and speaks volumes for how important the Dolní Vítkovice area is to Ostrava and how much of the city’s history is tied to it.

Rust Never Sleeps 

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Inside the blast furnace.

The transformation of Dolní Vítkovice from disused industrial facility to the tourist attraction, interpretive centre and multi-function area of today started with the establishment of the DOV Group in 2007. By 2017, the complex as it is today was complete and was given the name DOV.

It’s possible to take a guided tour of the foundry that will show you the path taken from raw ore to finished steel. Tours are available in English, German, Polish or Russian for groups of ten or more by prior arrangement. If you are alone or part of a smaller group, you can rent an MP3 player with a commentary in English, German or Polish and follow along with a Czech language tour. The commentary on the MP3 corresponds to a series of numbered points along the tour route.

Beyond the opportunity to tour and learn about the history of the site, DOV offers a number of cultural activities around the year that include music performances and art exhibitions among other things. The largest music festival in the Czech Republic is held annually on the Dolní Vítkovice site. The Colours of Ostrava is a multi genre music festival of international scope and a very popular event on the city’s calendar.

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Usain Bolt’s autograph in the Bolt Tower, which was named in his honour.

There are also cafés, science centres and the Bolt Tower which sits atop the former Blast Furnace 1 and provides a panoramic view over Ostrava and to points beyond.

The Bolt Tower was completed in 2015 and was named in honour of decorated Jamaican sprinter, Usain Bolt.

The connection between the champion sprinter and Ostrava comes from his multiple visits to the city for the annual Golden Spike athletics tournament until his retirement from competition in 2017. The city’s stadium, where the tournament is held, is also in the Vítkovice district.

The city and the sprinter made very positive impressions on each other and he was on hand in 2015 to put his autograph on a wall when the tower was opened and named after him.

Paying a Visit and Learning More 

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The control room that was the nerve centre of the entire foundry, preserved as it appeared at the itme of closure.

Visiting Ostrava and Dolní Vitkovice is quite straightforward. As the country’s third largest city, Ostrava is easily accessible by road or rail. Additionally, Ostrava also has an international airport.

Once in the city, Ostrava’s public transportation system has four tram lines that can take you directly to the Dolní Vítkovice site.

While Ostrava has a number of accomodation options to offer, there is a hotel directly on the old foundry site. Hotel VP1 is quite a comfortable hotel with friendly and helpful staff. With four tramlines stopping practically on its doorstep, the hotel is a good option for an extended visit to Ostrava as you can access many other areas of the city with ease.

The following links will tell you more about the area and its history:

This is the official DOV website where you can find out more about the site and events going on there:
Link to the official DOV website

This link will take you to a historical timeline of the Vítkovice company at the company website:
Link to Vítkovice historical timeline

This link will take you to the  Colours of Ostrava music festival website where you can see a number of pictures of the site as a backdrop to the festival:
Link to Colours of Ostrava website

This will take you to the website of  Hotel VP1. It’s only in Czech, but will show you the accomodations on offer. It is possible to book a room there in your language through online booking sites:
Link to Hotel VP1 website

May 1st -A Kiss into Spring

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A blooming tree, just waiting to be kissed under.

May 1st, National Holiday and a Tradition

Since ancient times, many cultures have celebrated the coming of spring in various ways. On contemporary calendars, these celebrations have been placed on or near May 1st.

In many countries, May 1st is a national holiday marking International Workers’ Day. The use of the date as Labour Day and to celebrate workers goes back to the late 19th century.

The Czech Angle

May 1st is a national holiday in the Czech Republic and the Czechs have their own ways of marking it.

During the period of Socialism, people in the former Czechoslovakia were forced to participate in massive May Day parades. However, a tradition that goes back to the late 19th century has been kept alive by Czechs from before the Socialist era up to the present: kissing your sweetheart under a blooming tree.

Czechs generally see May 1st as a day of love. In the last week or so of April, trees typically start flowering and legend says that girls who are not kissed under a blooming tree on the day will wither and die within the year.

By tradition, cherry trees are the prefered trees to kiss under. However, other trees in bloom can be substituted if cherry trees aren’t available. For people picky about their kissing trees, birch or apple are seen as the next best thing to cherry. Some people aren’t so particular though and will kiss under any convenient blooming tree.

Along with kissing, many people might also recite the poem “Máj” by Czech romantic poet, Karel Hynek Mácha (1810 – 1836). The poem is a Czech literary classic.

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Another tree standing by for a couple to steal a kiss under it.

Learning More

Not all Czechs engage in the kissing tradition. For many, it’s just a nice day off from work.

These links will tell you more about the tradition of kissing under trees as well as more about Karel Hynek Mácha and his classic poem:
Link at tresbohemes.com
Link at prague.tv
Link at jobspin.cz

Švihov Castle – Popelka’s Palace

A Cinderella Story 

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General view of Švihov castle.

Do you know the classic Czech film “Tři oříšky pro Popelku”? Perhaps you know it by its English title “Three Wishes for Cinderella”.

This 1973 film that was created jointly by the film industries of the former Czechoslovakia and former East Germany is easily one of the most successful of Czech films as far as export is concerned and is considered a Christmas classic film on television in several European countries as well as at home in the Czech Republic.

Two castles figured prominently as sets in the film: Moritzburg castle in Germany and the subject of this article, Švihov castle in the Czech Republic.

Stronghold in the South 

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A section of the castle’s outer moat that remains intact today.

Located south of the city of Plzeň, in the south-west corner of the country, Švihov castle is a Late Gothic style water fortress.

Originally owned by the powerful noble house of Rýzmberk, the castle’s present appearance dates to a rebuilding that took place in the late 15th and early 16th centuries following the Hussite Wars.

That reconstruction was overseen by prominent architect of the time, Benedikt Rejt. Following the reconstruction, the castle was the most important and well fortified of its type in Bohemia. Consisting of inner and outer sections as well as two moats, it would have taken a very determined and well equiped adversary to stand a chance of successfully laying seige to it.

The castle changed hands in 1548. However, due to poor management, the House of Říčany who had purchased it were forced to sell it just fifty years later. The castle’s last noble owners, the venerable and prominent Czernin family, held the castle from 1598 until it was seized by the state following the Second World War.

Decline and Resurgence 

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The castle’s entry tower seen from across the courtyard.

The fortress showed its strength during the Thirty Years’ War when it was unsuccessfully besieged by the Swedish army twice.

Following the war, the castle’s demolition was ordered by Emperor Ferdinand III of Habsburg. While the demolition was started and cost the castle a significant part of its outer section as well as its moats, the Czernin family were able to obstruct and prevent the complete destruction of it.

While the Czernins were able to save some of the castle, they were not able to preserve the strategic and defensive importance of it. Švihov retained some economic importance, though entered a period of decline in the 17th century that would last into the early 20th century. In official records, it was classified as a ruin by the 1920s.

Švihov survived the Second World War and a renewed interest was taken in it after it was taken under state ownership following the war. As early as 1947, plans were already being put in place for the restoration of the castle.

By the mid 20th century, the castle had been opened to public visits.

A Look Inside 

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The castle chapel.

The castle interiors are mostly of Late Gothic or Rennaissance style.

Key points on a tour of the castle interiors include ceremonial rooms, armory, banquet hall, dance hall, chapel, administrative rooms, cellars, the guardroom and the kitchen among other rooms.

Along the course of a tour, you will see a selection of valuable paintings that date to the 16th century as well as some rare and valuable tapestries.

Another aspect of the castle interiors is a tour specific to the architecture and and structural elements of the entrance tower. It’s a unique opportunity to get a look at such aspects of castle construction.

Let’s Meet Popelka! 

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Preserved costumes from “Tři oříšky pro Popelku” on display at the castle.

Not everything at Švihov is dedicated to the castle’s ancient history, there is also a display of costumes and props that focus on its place in popular contemporary Czech culture as a set for the “Tři oříšky pro Popelku” film mentioned at the start of this article.

The costumes used in the film are particularly celebrated and this exhibition will give you a chance to get a close look at some of them. The costumes in the film were designed by Theodor Pištěk, who went on to win Academy Awards in 1984 and 1989 for Best Costume Design in the Miloš Forman films “Amadeus” and “Valmont” respectively. Pištěk also designed the uniforms worn by the Prague Castle Guard.

If you’ve never seen “Tři oříšky pro Popelku” in its original Czech version or one of its translated versions, I heartily recommend that you do so. If you grew up with the animated version made by Disney, Popelka will be both familiar to you and a breath of fresh air at the same time.

The Czech variation on the classic fairy tale draws somewhat on the Grimm Brothers’ version and is credited to Božena Němcová (1820-1862).

While the titular character of the Disney film is the stereotypical damsel in distress, biding her time passively in miserable circumstances while waiting to be saved by the dashing prince, Popelka is a good bit more determined, proactive and self-reliant in playing a part in extricating herself from servitude to her stepmother and stepsister.

In the 2014 to 2016 timeframe, the film got a full digital restoration and improved subtitling.

Paying a Visit and Learning More 

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View of the castle including a remnant of the outer wall.

Švihov offers a few different guided tour options. These tours are in the Czech language, though it is possible to borrow guide booklets in other languages to help you follow along if you are not a Czech speaker.

The castle is relatively easy to get to by road or rail if you are travelling from Plzeň. By road, it’s south of Plzeň on the E53 motorway.

There is also some rail service between Plzeň and Švihov. However, it is a bit of a walk from the town train station to the castle. Additionally, it is best if you make yourself familiar with rail options back to Plzeň before you travel as the Švihov train station is small and there likely won’t be anyone around to ask for information if you don’t speak Czech.

This link will take you to the official website of the castle:
Link to official Švihov castle website

This link will take you to an article about “Tři oříšky pro Popelku” and the film’s enduring popularity at home and abroad:
Article about “Tři oříšky pro Popelku” film

Easter 2020 – Colour Against Quarantine

The Coronavirus quarantine continues and, as a result, the traditional Easter markets that take place across the Czech Republic every year have been cancelled for 2020.

I decided, as with my last post, to let pictures do the talking. I went into my photos and found a variety of easter eggs from Easter markets past to give you a splash of colour and take you through the week leading up to Easter:

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If you’d like to read and see more about Czech Easter traditions, please follow this link to my existing article on the subject:

Czech Easter Traditions

Coronavirus and the Czech Republic

Just the Facts, Please

Like just about every other country these days, the Czech Republic has been gripped by the fears associated with the current Coronavirus outbreak. The Czech government has recently put a series of extraordinary measures in place in hopes to minimise the effect that the outbreak has on the country and people.

The purpose of this article is to let you know what’s being done and give you further links to see how it affects you and your relationship with the Czech Republic whether you are a citizen, foreign national with residency status or a tourist.

30 Day State of Emergency

On March 13 of 2020, the Czech government declared a state of national emergency that is planned to last for 30 days. The effects are as follows:

Travel Limitations:

From March 16 of 2020, the Czech Republic will close its borders and place a ban on all travel for both citizens and foreign nationals that will last the duration of the state of emergency.

Czech citizens or foreign nationals returning to the Czech Republic from abroad will be quarantined for 14 days if they have travelled to a “high risk” country. They may also be quarantined if they return from a “safe” country, but show symptoms of infection.

The following countries are considered “high risk”: China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Spain, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Denmark and France.

Exemptions to this rule have been made for the following groups:

Cross-border workers
Truck and bus drivers
Emergency services workers
Pilots and aircrew

Until further notice, the Ministry of the Interior has suspended the issuing of all visas for the country.

This link will take you to a page set up by the Ministry of the Interior that outlines in detail the obligations of foreigners in the Czech Republic with regards to Coronavirus: Ministry of the Interior link

Life in General:

The extraordinary measures have had the following effects on day to day life in the country:

On the morning of March 14, the government ordered all shops, restaurants, pubs, casinos and gaming establishments to close completely until at least March 24. Exemptions to this are as follows:

Supermarkets and grocery shops
Drugstores and pharmacies
Petrol stations

Any public events that attract crowds of 30 or more people have been banned.

Fitness centres, swimming pools, entertainment centres, galleries, music and social clubs and public libraries have all been closed until further notice.

Primary, secondary and post secondary education facilities have all been closed until further notice.

Offices and other non-public places of work are not affected thus far, but some are encouraging their employees to work from home wherever possible.

Police are carrying out quarantine checks to ensure that nobody who has been confirmed infected is breaking their quarantine by going out into public. There is a 3 million Czech Koruna fine for those who break quarantine.

Tourism Concerns:

With the closing of the country’s borders on March 16, no tourists from either “safe” or “high risk” countries will be permitted into the country. If you are already in the country, you will be permitted to exit the Czech Republic but will not be allowed back in during the period of emergency.

The closures that have affected the public places listed in the previous section of this article have also been enforced upon chateaus, castles and other tourist attractions across the country.

If you are a tourist in the Czech Republic during the emergency period, the Ministry of the Interior link provided earlier in this article is certainly worth looking at.

Health Precautions:

Panic tends to grip people and overtake common sense in situations like epidemics and they tend to forget very simple things they can do to protect themselves and others.

Good basic hygiene is the first line of defense against infections. Wash your hands well and keep them away from your face if you haven’t washed them recently. This video from the World Health Organization demonstrates good hand washing technique:

Always carry hand sanitizing gel or sanitary wipes with you in case you are not near a washroom where you can access running water and soap when you need to clean your hands. When you are using public transportation, for example.

Keeping Informed:

Of course, information changes all the time in situations like this. The following links will help you to stay informed of the latest developments on Coronavirus and the Czech Republic:

This link will take you to Radio Prague’s English language site. The site provides regularly updated news at the national level in a variety of languages: Radio Prague link

This link will take you to a special page set up by the Ministry of Health. It has a regularly updated selection of downloadable .pdf documents in English on Coronavirus in the country: Ministry of Health link

 

Lysice Chateau – Secret Garden

Just off the Beaten Track 

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The front facade and main entrance of Lysice chateau.

Note: It’s time for a guest post. I’ll put you in the capable hands of my girlfriend, Jana, for this article. Enjoy:

If you are a tourist staying in Brno and thinking about possible day trips, you are probably considering going to the south and that’s a great idea. There are many tempting options such as Lednice, Valtice or Mikulov; but I would recommend you consider going in a different direction. About 30 km north of Brno, there is a hidden jewel – Lysice chateau that is definitely worth visiting even though it is not one of the most popular or most famous chateaus in the Czech Republic. However, that is exactly what gives you the advantages of enjoying your visit without huge crowds of tourists and taking your time to discover the place and all it has to offer.

The chateau is a picturesque building with lovely interiors; but before you go on a tour, you will probably admire it from the main courtyard. What may strike you at first will be a moat usually inhabited by a couple of swans. I know what you are asking now: a moat in front of a chateau? Well, I guess to get an explanation, we will have to look at the history of the building.

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Looking across the garden to the back of the chateau.

In 1476, a stronghold owned by the lords of Kunštát is mentioned to exist in Lysice. However, we are not completely sure that it was at the same place as today’s chateu. In the mid 16th century, a renaissance water stronghold was built by Diviš Černčický of Kácov (? – 1563) whose father got Lysice in exchange for Nové Město nad Metují from the House of Pernštejn.

This stronghold certainly was at the same place as the chateau today, so here is where the moat becomes part of the story as a moat was nothing untypical for this type of building. It was the Březnický family of Náchod who bought Lysice from the Černčický family and who rebuilt the stronghold into a renaissance chateau in the first half of the 17th century. Then in 1686, Jan Karel Serényi (? -1691) bought Lysice for his orphaned underage nephews. One of them, Antonín Amatus Serényi (1670 – 1738) renovated the chateau in the baroque style in the 30th of the 18th century. The last changes of appearance were made by the House of Dubský, whose members lived in the chateau till 1945.

The Dubský Era 

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The colonade that is a legacy of the Dubský era of the chateau’s history.

As with many other chateaus, there have been quite many owners of the place, but Dubský is the name that you will certainly hear repeated if you go for a guided tour of this chateau. It is the House of Dubský who were the last noble owners of the chateau before it became state property. František Dubský of Třebomyslice (1749 – 1812), whose wife Antonie Piati (1773 – 1843) inherited the chateau when the last male heir of the Piati family died, was the first Dubský in Lysice. The marriage helped František, who was from an old but poor noble family, to raise his line again.

František’s son, Emanuel Dubský (1806 – 1881), a prominent personality of Brno aristocratic society and chairman of the Moravian Land Assembly, was the last owner to change the appearance of the chateau and to renovate the interiors. The renovations were done mainly by František Vašíček (1812 -1870) and his son, Kajetán, from an old line of master bricklayers and masons. It was them who designed, for example, the colonade with the covered pergola as well as most of the interiors in the 19th century.

The noble part of the chateau’s history ended with Albrecht Dubský (1882 – 1962), Emauel Dubský’s grandson, and his wife Juliana, in 1945. Even though they both spoke Czech very well and it is said they never agreed with ideals of Nazism and even helped a few people in Lysice during the Second World War, they both declared themselves to be of German nationality. Based on this, the chateau was confiscated in accordance to the decrees put in place by Edvard Beneš, the president of Czechoslovakia, after the war. They fled from Czechoslovakia and were never allowed to even visit their former home. They spent the rest of their lives in Austria and unfortunately returned to Lysice in 2000 only when their nephew Christian Kinský (1924 – 2011) put their remains into the newly restored family tomb.

Taking a Look Inside 

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The Chateau library.

There are two options to choose from when it comes to touring the chateau: The first tour shows representative rooms on the first floor, including a few private rooms such as the chapel or countess bedroom. The second tour leads you to the second floor and to the count´s private rooms and guest rooms on the second floor. The way the rooms are furnished, and the fresh flowers in almost all of them, really help to keep a feeling of intimacy and a real home. So, in many rooms you will feel as if the noble family has just left and they allowed you to explore their household.

While both tours are worth seeing, my recommendation – in case you have time only for one tour – would be to see the representative rooms. You will see a wonderful library decorated in the style of Venetian palaces, the main hall of the chateau where the family gathered, welcomed their guests and hosted concerts, two dining rooms (the smaller one for family dinners, the larger one for hosted dinners), private chapel and also a bedroom and bathroom of the countess. In the bedroom, there is a ship telephone and I will leave it to the guide to tell you who the countess used it to communicate with :-).

It is important to mention Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830 – 1916) here, probably the most famous Austrian writter of the 19th century, as the library on the first floor bears her name. She was born into the Zdislavice branch of the Dubský House and she quite often visited Lysice, where her close relatives lived. She wrote novels, short-stories, fairy-tales a well as travelling notes and witty aphorisms. Her work is valued for masterfully depicted characters; she was able to describe the highest levels of aristocracy as well as the poorest people. In 1898 she received the Cross of Honour for Art and Literature from the Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. The University of Vienna awarded her the degree of doctor of philosophy, honoris causa; she was the first woman ever to be given that award.

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Sitting room on the first floor.

The end of the first tour is connected with another interesting name – Ervín Dubský (1836 – 1909) who was one of Emanuel Dubskýs sons, served in the Royal Navy and reached the rank of Regatta Captain (the equivalent of Major General in the Army). He travelled all around the world on royal ships and brought many precious items from his journeys, not only for his private collection but also for museums and research institutions. You can admire small part of his collection in the Oriental room with maily Japanese and Chinese artefacts. Ervín was not only a mariner and collector, but also a skillful writer and painter. Pictures painted by him, including his self-portrait, are to be seen in his library that concludes the first tour together with the armoury. If you love weapons you should not miss it as the armoury, one of the largest in Moravia, is rich in bladed and balistic weapons as well as a few curiosities such as an executioner’s sword and a sword with a blade made of sawfish bone.

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One of the shooting galleries.

The second tour starts in a nicely decorated, airy two-floor hall. This is the youngest wing of the chateu and was built after the chateu theatre was destroyed by fire in 1902. It really is a pity that the theatre (built in 1791) did not survive to today; at the time it was destroyed, it was equipped with quite modern technology and richly decorated sets and costumes (even the Vienna Opera used to borrow some of the 360 costumes from here). The tour then continues on the second floor. This floor was a male space, unlike the first floor that was maily used by ladies, so it is no surprise to visit the counts bedroom or his office where at least three generations of Dubskýs managed not only the whole manor but the bolt and screw factory in Drnovice as well. I would say that the highlight of the second tour is the small and large shooting galleries. Do not worry, no shooting is done in the two rooms. The name is based on the decoration of the walls: shooting targets from a former shooting range in the chateau park.

A Walk Around the Grounds 

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A section of the chateau gardens.

Speaking of the park, if you take just a little walk up the hill above the chateau, the walk down the chateau alley is very pleasant especially in hot summers and it will also give you a nice view of the chateau and the garden; a much nicer than when you try to take a photo of the chateau from the main courtyard (a tip for passionate photographers).

The garden, with a unique colonnade covered with a pergola, is something you should not miss. If you buy tickets for the tour of the garden, you will have a chance to take a walk where the noble men and women used to walk when it rained; or enjoyed tea or coffee seated in comfortable chairs. However, the colonnade is not the only highlight of the garden. You can also visit the orangery, green house and the newly restored sala terrena but make sure tours are available for the day when you plan your visit.

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Flowers in the chateau greenhouse.

By the way, the garden was one of most famous in the whole monarchy in the second half of the 19th century; flowers and seedlings were bought by flowershops in Prague and Vienna and even exported abroad, exotic plants were grown here and many experts and members of aristocracy came to visit to see it with their own eyes. The famous Vienna hotel, Sacher, was one of the customers who bought pineapples and figs grown here. It is still one of the most beautiful historical gardens in the Czech Republic. Flowers grown here are used to make beautiful arrangements that you will see in the interiors when you buy tickets to see the chateau inside.

After getting so much information, and all the sightseeing and walking, you certainly deserve to take a break and have something good. While you can choose from two or three restaurants in the town if you are hungry, I would certainly recommend the Dubský Café in the main courtyard if you only feel like having something small. Not only can you have a cup of coffee or tea together with something sweet, but you can drink your coffee while admiring a beautifully restored Berlin type carriage that was made around 1780.

Paying a Visit and Learning More 

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A view in the pergola on top of the colonade.

I hope I have persuaded you to visit the chateau. Or, maybe after reading this, you will start thinking about paying it a visit.

I have to admit I am a little bias in this case as Lysice chateau has always been close to my heart. When I was a university student, I spent a few weeks at the chateau every summer working as a guide and without Lysice, it would not have been a proper summer for me. I still return to Lysice for visits from time to time. It’s nice to check what‘s new and at the same time to make sure it is still the good, old chateau with its endless charm. I can confirm that it is.

If you don’t have a car to travel to the chateau, there is regular bus service from the Královo Pole train station in Brno to the Lysice townsite.

More information about the chateau can be found at the chateau’s official website: Lysice Chateau Website