Czech Republic Day 17: Křivoklát Castle
I headed out early this morning, my destination Krivoklat Castle. Once again I found myself on a train, tracking along the Berounka river, the same route to Karlstejn Castle. And just as the last time the river valley was shrouded in thick fog. As we pulled nearer to Beroun, where I would change trains, pheasants disturbed by the abrupt presence of the train, flew and fluttered off into the fog.
Krivoklat is located about 1.5 hours west southwest of Prague in the deep forests of the Krivoklatsko nature reserve. The castle was constructed in the 1200's by the Premyslid kings for use as a hunting lodge. It was also the childhood home of Emperor Charles IV. The Hapsburgs sold the castle to the Furstenbergs in 1685. The castle was conquered by both Catholics and the Hussites in the 1400s. It served as a Hapsburg prison. Beginning in 1548, Bishop Jan Augusta was imprisoned here for 16 years in a room with no light. You can stand in this room and shudder. In 1591 alchemist Edward Kelley was imprisoned here for killing a man in a duel, although it may also have been Rudolph II's way of keeping Kelley from leaving the area without first producing gold from base metals.
|Krivoklat from a lookout point on the red and yellow trail.
When you arrive at the tiny Krivoklat train stop it looks deserted. The fog helped with this sense of utter isolation. You walk down a long ramp through the forest and pop out at an intersection in the tiny village. Here there are a few restaurants/inns. And then its another long, steep hike up to the castle, though not as long as that to Karlstejn. It was damp and foggy. Spider webs, glistening with old rain drops and mist, clung to street signs and the rock wall bordering the road up to the castle. You could just make out the great white round tower that characterizes Krivoklat castle. It glowed in the mist.
|As I waited for the castle to open and the fog to burn off I met up with this amazing little creature.
|It was obvious from the way this little kitty navigated the fencing that it does this all the time. It's a master of running along this fence in what looks like an amazingly awkward position.
|A perfect leap.
|Stopping to smell the flowers or at least rub on them...
There is no English tour. You can get English notes translated from the Czech tour in a packet that you have to buy for 30 Kc. There is no photography allowed inside either. But a tour through the castle is completely worth it. Inside you find one of the best preserved Gothic chapels in Europe. There is an 18th century library consisting of nearly 53,000 books. The largest book weighs 11 kilos and contains 2500 pages! There is the knight's hall hung with tapestries. And then there are the views from the ramparts and towers. Walk along the walls and crenellations. Imagine yourself a medieval lord.
|Looking from the inner courtyard to the entry gate.
|The main gate door.
|The impressively sized keys to the various castle gates and doors.
There are several hiking trails accessible from the castle that take you further into the nature reserve. The woods are beautiful. And some afford amazing views of the castle. I sat at one view point imagining life in such a castle and enjoying the sun.
I had a rather miserable lunch at an inn in the village but the view was nice, sitting outside, on this lovely, warm sunny day that had started out shrouded in gray. Then it was time to go back to Prague because Traveler Eight (see my Berlin posts) was waiting for me, joining me for the last days of my Czech Republic Adventure.
|The once foggy view with everything now revealed in sunlight.
|The castle with the village below.
|A fairytale castle.
|The train back to Beroun.
Traveler Eight had done a bus tour of Prague to get acquainted with this magical and wild place before I met up with her. I met Traveler Eight at Choco Cafe. She was drinking a vat of tea. I had a chocolate milkshake. It was delightful. We then ascended the staircase to the apartment and she got settled in. We then wandered around a bit and then took the #22 Tram up to Strahov Monastery.We ate dinner at Bellavista, admiring the city glittering below us. We had a very good goulash (it had all the right flavors and hinted of Hungary).
We wandered down to the Castle, which is magical and delightful at night, so different during the hustle and bustle of the day. Now I was tour guide and got to regale someone with all the tales I'd collected during my travels. I was positively bursting with stories. This is a good state to be in.
Then we wandered through parts of Mala Strana, bought trdlo for dessert, and then it was over Charles Bridge and back to the apartment. It was near midnight. The ghost of the Templar Knight who haunts Liliova Street did not make an appearance.