The Křivoklát Castle is an attractive tourist destination; it was founded at the beginning of the 12th century by Prince Vladislav, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.Prague - Malá Strana, Vltava River, and Charles Bridge, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.Prague towards the northwest, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.The beauty of the countryside, known as Bohemian Paradise, has enchanted many artists, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.Český Šternberk Castle, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.Koněprusy Caves, the largest cave system in Bohemia, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.Mělník Chateau and tower of the Church of St. Peter and Paul as seen from the historic locks in Hořín, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.
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Central Bohemia - the Benešov and Sázava basin area

This area has attracted great attention since time immemorial – there is even a legend here of mythical knights inside the mountain prepared to help the nation in times of great danger. Blaník Mountain, where this fabled army is said to be sleeping, is located about 20 km southeast of Benešov. The network of small Romanesque churches (Neustupov, Libouň, Pravonín, Kondrac and Chvojen na Benešovsku, Týnec, Poříčí, Hrusice and Rovná in Posázaví) testify to the success of medieval colonization efforts that reach back to the 10th century. The most impressive is most likely the rotunda in Týnec nad Sázavou, whose core was created in the first part of the 12th century. The tower was added at the turn of the 12th and 13th centuries, giving the church its monumental character.

Sázava Monastery

Colonization of the region was strengthened by the hermit St. Procopius (ca. 970-1053), originally a priest, who left to inhabit the “deserted” Sázava River valley in the beginning of the 11th century. A monastic settlement gradually formed around his hermitage, made up of disciples who wished to live by the saint’s methods. This laid the foundation for the monastic community, the future Sázava Monastery. The Old Church Slavonic liturgy was maintained in the monastery up until the end of the 11th century, when it was replaced by the Latin liturgy in 1096. The art-loving abbots had the monastery meliorated by the most capable artists of the day, and many of them were active artists themselves (including the goldsmith and enameler Reginart of Mety and Abbot Božetěch). The monastery’s oldest structures were built around 1070, but many of them unfortunately did not survive. The architecturally most valuable phase of construction, in the 14th century, also remained unfinished. The monastery suffered damage during the Hussite Wars from 1420 to 1437, the monks were expelled in 1421, and a new period of prosperity finally arrived after the Thirty Years’ War, bringing the Baroque period of the end of the 17th century and the middle of the 18th century. The most valuable parts of the interior furnishings include the decorations of the capitulary hall from 1340 with its cycle of murals, and the Late Baroque furnishings of the Churches of the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist. The floorboards of the eastern wing of the monastery and Church of St. Procopius still reveal pieces of wood from the first hermitage buildings.

Konopiště Castle

The Konopiště Castle stands west of Benešov. The original fortified castle from the early 14th century was replaced by another castle in the first half of the 16th century. The castle was expanded further from the 17th century and improved. It was the Baroque reconstruction on the plans of F. M. Kaňka after 1725 which particularly provided new opportunities to excellent artists, including M. B. Braun. The castle’s present appearance is the work of architect Josef Mocker who had it rebuilt in Neo-Gothic style from 1889 to 1894. In 1887, Konopiště was purchased by the successor to the Habsburg throne Archduke Franz Ferdinand d’Este, who planned to reconstruct it into a splendid residence for himself as new Emperor. He refined the castle complex, for example, with the addition of an English park. It was actually from Konopiště that Franz Ferdinand and his wife left in June of 1914 on their fateful journey to Sarajevo, where he was assassinated on 28 June.

Český Šternberk Castle

Founded around 1241 by Zdeslav of Divišov (later of Šternberk) and named after the family's coat of arms, a golden eight-pointed star. It was common at the time to Germanise names, hence Sternberg (literally, "Star Mountain"). The castle still belongs to the Šternberk family today. In 1467, the castle was conquered and later reconstructed into Late Gothic style. It underwent extensive reconstructions in Early Baroque style in the late 17th century, then was electrified and equipped with running water and central heating in the early 20th century. A tour of the castle includes 15 richly furnished rooms featuring portraits of important family members and describing their lifestyles. You'll also see a unique collection of Šternberk copperplate engravings from the period of the Thirty Years' War, which is one of the largest monothematic collections of graphic prints in Europe. www.hradceskysternberk.cz

The power of the rulers was never demonstrated too strongly in this region, but who the ruler actually was is suggested by a number of “proud” aristocratic residences adorning the landscape. The Renaissance provided a rich transition from medieval traditions. Baroque cavaliers outdid each other in the grandiosity of their own residences, and their successors were no less active. This is shown, for example, in the Late Baroque chateau in Vrchotovy Janovice. It came about through a reconstruction of a Renaissance castle from 1600 which itself had replaced an original Gothic fortress from the middle 14th century. The building underwent re-Gothicization in 1858. A similar fate was enjoyed by the chateau in Zruč nad Sázavou.

Vlašim

The Late Renaissance castle in Vlašim was built around 1600 from an original Gothic castle from the 14th century. The appearance of the castle today is from a reconstruction from the end of the 18th and first half of the 19th century. This period also gave rise to its romantic park, one of the largest in Bohemia. Romanticism here was applied in its Chinese Pavilion, the Neo- Gothic gates, and in the “Old Castle”. The Gothic period in Vlašim is represented by the Church of St. Giles, and the Loretta buildings from the beginning of the 18th century are also notable, standing on a forested hill on the way to Vračovice.

Chateau in Jemniště

The chateau in Jemniště is a new work of Baroque architecture by F. M. Kaňka, completed in 1724. The authors of the sculpted decorations are M. B. Brun and L. Widman, and the paintings are mostly the work of V. V. Reiner. The chateau gallery of portraits was expanded in the beginning of the 19th century by the superb Baroque and Empire portraitist and painter Antonín Machek (1775-1844).

Benešov

The area’s natural economic centre is Benešov, a city with an eight-pointed gold star in its coat of arms, and once the centre of the powerful Benešovic family. The city’s architecture is mostly Baroque and Art Nouveau. The decoration of the modernistic buildings here were often the work of renowned artists such as B. Stefan. Of the number of Baroque buildings, the most remarkable is undoubtedly the Church of St. Anne with its Piarist college (1705-1715) from G. B. Alliprandi. One of the oldest buildings to be preserved is the Gothic Church of St. Nicholas, reconstructed many times and now containing Baroque furnishings, the result of the workshop of the famous M. B. Braun.