Six Chateaux to Czech Out
Americans visiting the Czech Republic often flock to Prague Castle and the castles surrounding the capital city. But the chateau-specked landscape of northern Bohemia rarely makes it onto tourist itineraries. That's unfortunate, as six chateaux in the region -- all accessible by train or bus from Prague -- are worthy of a day trip.
Five of the six are owned by the National Institute of Monument Protection of Usti nad Labem ( http:/
Notably, these six are chateaux rather than castles. Generally, Czech chateaux hail from the 16th to 19th centuries, while castles were founded between the 12th and 15th centuries. Also, castles were built as fortresses for defense purposes, whereas chateaux were designed for comfortable living and usually are accompanied by a park and garden.
One of the loveliest is Hruby Rohozec (011-420-481-321-012, http:/
Pay special mind to the chateau's tower: The clock's small hand shows the minutes, the big hand the hour. Other features include a chapel with three baroque altars with sculptural and painted decoration, centuries-old tapestries and a dining room replete with coats of arms, knight's armor and woodcuttings.
In the Ustecky region, the chateau of Velke Brezno (011- http:/
The building looks more like a villa with onion spires and a terrace, but don't let the small size fool you. The interior includes a main hall with stucco decor and a dining room with rich wooden paneling, plus an exquisite table and chairs in the gentleman's room. The library and portrait gallery of the Chotek family, who owned the chateau, are also worth a visit. The chateau's romantic location, nestled on a sloping hill with mountains as the backdrop, includes a lush park that makes its exterior as impressive as its interior.
Magnificent Ploskovice (011-420-416-749-092, http:/
An arcaded hallway features frescoes from Neptune-related mythology and eight baroque statues representing the allegories of the four seasons and the four elements of water, earth, fire and wind. The Engraving Salon is lined with numerous engravings of French chateaux, parks and other popular Parisian landmarks. The Ladies' Study boasts a magnificent painted ceiling, while the dining room -- light and airy in blue, gold and white -- features Thun porcelain. Six paintings of a romantic landscape enhance the Emperor's Salon, while a glance upward in the Emperor's Morning Room reveals a lovely white and green chandelier. Afterward, you can relax in the chateau's park, modeled after the gardens of Versailles.
Not far from Ploskovice is Libochovice (011-420-416-591-443, http:/
Between the cities of Usti nad Labem and Litvinov lies Duchcov (011-420-417-835-321, http:/
Some interesting features of Duchcov include the large canvases lining the Valdstejn Hall of Ancestors, the ceiling fresco in the main hall depicting Bohemian King Premysl Otakar II's troops readying for battle, a Bartholomaeus Spranger painting of Venus and Adonis, etchings of Venice lining the corridor, Casanova's study and library, and the statues decorating the baroque park.
On the same train line as Duchcov, near the German border, is Klasterec nad Ohri (011-420-474-375-436, http:/
Even more enticing than the museum is the chateau's park on the Ohre riverbank. With a pond, pathways and statues by Jan Brokoff, it's a wonderful place to relax or take a stroll.
--Tracy A. Burns
For info on travel to the Czech Republic: Czech Tourist Authority, 212-288-0830,http:/