Karlštejn Castle holds an absolutely exceptional position among Czech castles. It was established by the Czech king and Roman emperor Charles IV as a place to store the royal treasures, collections of holy relics and the crown jewels. The very impressive layout of the castle buildings from the settlement outside the castle walls right up to the Imperial Palace and the towers rising over it will captivate you with their ingenuity. In the castle Chapel of the Holy Cross, you will then merely contemplate the pictures of Master Theodoric in silent wonder. Set out for the most-visited castle in the Czech Republic and discover the treasures it has hidden for centuries!
Karlštejn Castle was completed in 1365 and apart from its beautiful decoration, it also stands out among the others for its stepped layout according to the importance of individual parts of the castle. At the lowest point, you will find the settlement outside the castle walls with the Burgrave’s Palace and its originally designed well, the two-storey Imperial Palace spreads out above this with the bedrooms of the king, his court and noblewomen, on the next level, the smaller Marian Tower with chapels reaches for the sky and at the very top you will find the dominant Great Tower, in which the Czech royal treasures were supposed to be stored. Climb from the pikes to the gold and precious stones!
The Chapel of the Holy Cross in the High Tower
The Chapel of the Holy Cross located in the highest High Tower enjoyed such esteem that Charles IV entered it barefoot as a sign of humility and had it fitted with three iron doors and nine locks. Its decoration is inspired by the description of Heavenly Jerusalem in the biblical book of Revelations. The chapel was used as a repository for the crown jewels and held Charles’ collection of the remains of saints. The chapel with four windows, partially glazed with precious stones, cross vaults with profiled ribs, frescoes from the life of Christ and 129 unique panels depicting the saints by Master Theodoric make a visit to this sacred room a truly ethereal experience.
Drink water from a well powered by hand
Apart from beautifully furnished rooms, you will also find duplicates of the Czech crown jewels at Karlštejn as well as the crown jewels of the Holy Roman Empire, not to mention a well 80 metres deep where raising and lowering of the well buckets was accomplished by a wheel which used to be trodden by people.
The most famous legends of Karlštejn
Karlštejn has been a great muse for artists since time immemorial. According to one legend, Karlštejn Castle was intended only for the secular and spiritual needs of King Charles IV, so women were forbidden from entering. Another legend tells of a blind musician who used to play the lute accompanied by his faithful dog. The Prince of Brunswick was visiting once with a treacherous butler who wanted to poison the nobleman. He passed him a goblet with poison, but the prince offered this to the blind lute player to slake his thirst as he had been playing so beautifully all day. The faithful dog did not let his master drink from the goblet, jumped onto his lap and drank it himself.