A prison shrouded in horrific legends, valuable historical collections, a beautiful view over the city and many cultural events held throughout the year – all of this is Špilberk Castle. One of the two most important dominant features of the Moravian capital and a place which became synonymous with the most horrific of dungeons throughout the whole of Europe is nowadays one of the most valuable monuments in Brno.
Špilberk’s importance and role changed fundamentally over the course of the centuries. This leading royal castle and seat of the Moravian margraves, gradually transformed into a monumental Baroque fortress, the toughest prison of the Austrian monarchy and later a military barracks. Nowadays it is home to Brno City Museum and one of the most important cultural centres in the city.
A place favoured by the locals
This monumental fortress, which rises up over a steep slope directly over the historical centre of the city, is a popular place for walks and relaxation among the locals. Here, you will meet young couples, senior citizens walking their dogs and athletes keeping in shape.
A seat of rulers and prison of nations
Špilberk was founded in the middle of the 13th century by the Czech king Přemysl Otakar II. He conceived its construction on a very grand scale, both as firm support for his power and also as a dignified seat for the rulers of Moravia. However, it made its mark on history mostly as a prison for the toughest and most dangerous of criminals. It was not only “regular” murderers, thieves or arsonists who did their time here, but also so-called state prisoners. This concerned people from the upper classes such as Italian nationalists or people fighting against Habsburg absolutism.
An exhibition to send a chill down your spine
The list of most famous prisoners at Špilberk for example includes the Austrian commanders Bonneval and Wallis or the famous Colonel Franz Trenck. The Italian poet Silvio Pellico also spent eight years here against his will, during which time he wrote “My Prisons”, a book which made the name Špilberk famous all over Europe. An exhibition is housed here nowadays, where you can gain an insight into the history of Špilberk as the famous “prison of nations”. Everybody can walk through the crowded and dark rooms here, which came to be feared all across Europe.