Seeing Křivoklát Castle for the first time is an unforgettable experience. It’ll remind you of ancient times when the kings used to come here to relax and hunt in the surrounding forest full of game. Take a day-trip from Prague, travel in time, and get to know one of the oldest Czech royal castles!
Appealing trip destination
You’ll find Křivoklát Castle in the Central Bohemian Region about 30 km west of Prague. It’s surrounded by beautiful forests of UNESCO Biosphere reserve called Křivoklátsko.
This castle with a fairy-tale look belongs among the most significant royal castles in Czechia. Its authentic beauty attracts not only tourists but film producers, too! Almost 30 movies were already shot here.
Short history of Křivoklát Castle
Křivoklát was built in the first half of the 13th century by the Czech kings of the Přemyslid dynasty as a magnificent royal residence. It was very popular with the medieval rulers. They used to organize here game-hunts and feasts with lots of food and drink. No doubt they had a good time here! 🤭
During its history, the castle experienced many fires. That’s why it had to be rebuilt several times. Significant reconstruction of the castle took place at the end of the 15th century during the reign of King Vladislaus II. The current appearance of Křivoklát comes from that time.
The later kings, the Habsburgs, didn’t enjoy the time in Křivoklát as much as their predecessors did and used it mainly as a prison. Later, they even sold the castle. The last owners of Křivoklát were the Fürstenbergs who invested a lot of money to save the old unmaintained castle from falling into disrepair.
House arrest for the heir to the throne
The famous Czech King and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV spend his early childhood in Křivoklát. Although the castle was very comfortable, the little boy wasn’t very happy here. His father, John the Blind, kept him here under lock and key without his mother. John had a strained relationship with the Czech nobility and was afraid of the fact that they could make his son king instead of him.
Special “guest” of Křivoklát
One of other famous Křivoklát prisoners was Sir Edward Kelley, a well-known English alchemist and occultist of his time. Before his imprisonment, he was active in Prague at the court of Emperor Rudolf II, who was known as a science and alchemy devotee. Kelley convinced the emperor about his capability to turn base metals into gold and also promised to provide him with the elixir of life.
But why he ended up imprisoned in Křivoklát? Formally, because Kelley killed an official in a duel. But it’s quite probable that the emperor just didn’t want Kelley to run away without the elixir and the gold 😉.
After 3 years in Křivoklát, Kelley managed to escape, though. But he had bad luck. When he was descending the tower on a rope, it broke. Kelly landed on a rock and injured his leg so badly, that it had to be amputated.
Forbidden love behind the castle walls
King’s son, named Ferdinand after his father, fell in love with Philippine and secretly married her. Why secretly? Well, she wasn’t of noble origin – she came from a very rich family of merchants and financiers of Augsburg. At that time, Ferdinand “Junior” was the governor of Bohemia so that this marriage was labeled as “top secret”. When the king found out, he was mad at first but eventually put up with it. But Philippine was sent to Křivoklát so that nobody else could find out …
She lived there for 7 years together with their children. Ferdinand would come to visit his wife many times. Later, they moved to Tirol and lived there together. Happy end! ❤️
Why should you visit Křivoklát Castle?
Křivoklát Castle, unlike most Czech castles, is open to the public (almost) all year round. It looks gorgeous in each season! You will fall in love with the local landscape and the scenery as the medieval kings did.
The first castle courtyard is accessible for free. But I really recommend taking part in a guided tour. It’s the best way of getting to know the castle. Depending on the season, you can choose from different tours. All guided tours are available in English.
For me, the most impressive part of the castle is the Late-Gothic chapel with original decorations and the beautifully carved altar. To the right of the altar, there are stone seats (so-called sedilia). The king himself used to sit on them!
You’ll also love the large audience hall where the king used to receive guests and where the opulent feasts were held 😋. You’ll have the chance to enter the rooms that served as a prison, too. And much more!
If you don’t feel like checking the interiors, don’t miss the self-guided tour leading over the castle ramparts into the tower.
After the tour, don’t forget to make a short trip to the place, from where you’ll have the best view of the castle ⬇️. You’ll find it southeast of the castle on the yellow-colored trail. From the caste, it takes about 10 minutes to get there (see the map below).
How to get to Křivoklát Castle
From Prague, you can get easily to Křivoklát by train. The journey takes 1.5-2 hours. It’s not boring, though! Most of the time, the train goes along the Berounka River, and the scenery is very beautiful. A small tip – the view is much better from the right side of the car 😉!
What about visiting Křivoklát with your friends 😎? Share this trip ⬇️ and let them know!