Velké Losiny is a place of stark contrasts. On the one hand this is a pleasant spa town set in the gentle landscape of the Jeseníky Mountains; on the other it’s a place with a dark past where 17th century witch trials at the chateau gave it an infamous reputation. The witch hunts and inquisition took place in late medieval times and the beginning of the modern era.
The history of Velké Losiny will be forever associated with the Žerotín family, rulers of the area for three long centuries. This powerful and wealthy clan left behind some exceptional sights such as the Renaissance Church of John the Baptist, and the Baroque granary, above the entrance to which you can see the family’s coat of arms.
A Renaissance gem packed with treasure
Velké Losiny’s most significant sight is its chateau. When you see the wonderful three-storey arcading and sgraffito decoration, you’ll understand why it’s said to be one of the finest Renaissance buildings north of the Alps. During a tour you’ll see the Banqueting Hall with its exquisite cassette ceiling, the Knights’ Hall and the chateau picture gallery, where works by Italian, Flemish and Dutch masters are displayed. The infamous Great Courtroom, where the inquisition pronounced its judgements on so-called witches, still retains an eerie atmosphere.
Witch trials to make you squirm
A sinister period at the chateau came with the witch trials, during which 56 innocent people were incarcerated, tortured and burnt at the stake. In Losiny the blame game began when a beggar woman allegedly stole the communion wafers for a midwife so that her cow would give more milk. The superstitious Countess Angele Sybille Galle had the zealous representative of the Inquisition, J. F. Boblig, summoned to the estate. Drunk with power, he subsequently launched a torture spree and interrogation frenzy, imprisoning dozens of innocent people in the process.
Travel through 400 years of paper production
On a visit to Velké Losiny another must-see is the local paper factory. Here you can learn how paper is made by hand using methods little changed since the 16th century. The paper factory is one of the oldest in Europe still in operation and the paper is synonymous with tradition and quality. The paper used for state occasions, and even by the Czech president, is made here. The factory is also a candidate for inclusion in UNESCO’s list of world cultural heritage sites.