Buchlov castle

My family spent the last week of July in south-east Moravia, which represents the south-eastern part of the Czech Republic. We were staying in a camp and went on a trip every day so we visited a few castles and several interesting places I’d like to show you.

On the first day we went to visit the Buchlov castle. The funniest part of that trip was that when we entered the first yard of the castle, I immediately realised we’d been there before. My husband didn’t believe me until we returned home when I proved my assertion by showing him photos we took at that time. So first I felt a bit disappointed that we had chosen an already visited site but eventually the visit wasn’t the same at all. Unlike the first visit we joined a castle guided tour and saw a near chapel.

Buchlov-castle

– the tower in the first yard that I recognised immediately –

The Buchlov castle was built approximately in the half of the 13th century to guard the eastern border of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown against potential attacks coming from Hungary. The century was determined based on the oldest stone-cut part found in the castle in a Roman arch, there is no written record preserved which would document the origin of the castle.

Though a king was in possession of the castle until the 16th century, the castle was often entrusted to wealthy Moravian clans – king’s creditors. In 1511 the castle was transferred from the king to its new owner as merit award and became private property.

Buchlov-castle

– the pine is very prominent at one of the yards as it grows about three metres above the ground between bricks and stones of the moulding, it was already captured on photos taken there more than 70 years ago –

The castle was originally built in early Gothic style but later it was reconstructed at a high price in Renaissance style. Nevertheless, despite of all alterations and improvements, the medieval building didn’t suit the late 17th and early 18th century lifestyle so a castle in the style of a Baroque Italian villa was built in near Buchlovice and in 1751 the owners of the Buchlov castle moved there for good.

In 1800, a Berchtolds clan became the last clan that owned the Buchlov castle. They owned it until 1945 when the castle was transferred into the ownership of Czechoslovakia. It was thanks to the earls of Berchtolds, especially the brothers Leopold I. and Bedřich, that the castle stayed preserved although it wasn’t inhabited. They gathered valuable and extensive collections, placed them in a family museum established in the castle in the half of 19th century and opened the museum to the public. Nowadays, souvenirs brought from their journeys, which were made all over the world, are displayed in the castle, as well as huge hand-written and illustrated books on herbs and plants.

I wouldn’t have expected to see a mummy in the castle, a mummy coming from Egypt and dated approximately at 331 BC, but there it was. It was brought to the castle together with a coffin and vessels containing internal organs of the deceased in the first half of the 19th century as a wedding gift. The room where it is displayed nowadays is adorned in the style of Egyptian pyramids. It looks surprising and a bit inappropriate – who would want to have a mummy at home, however precious that might be – until you realize that at that time the castle was already used as a museum.

Buchlov-castle

– a view from a tower of the castle –

At one of the yards a lime tree grows and there is a legend related to it. At the 13th and 14th century, when Buchlov and its surroundings were administered by royal clerks, so called right of hunting used to be enforced. Poachers – both real and alleged – used to be punished severely, often with the death penalty. If the accused didn’t confess to the crime, they were tortured and then most of them pleaded guilty. The right was transferred to every new owner of the castle until 1749 when it was cancelled by an imperial decree. The legend says that in 1581 Vlček, a personal armiger of the castle lord, was sentenced to death for his participation in poaching. Even when he was tortured, he insisted on being innocent but eventually he surrendered to the torture and pleaded guilty. When a judgement was pronounced on him, he made his last wish. He asked the jury to let him plant a young lime tree upside down, that is with its roots upside and crown under the earth. If the tree started growing within a year, his innocence would be proved. The members of the jury were so wonder-struck that they put Vlček in jail for the year and waited. According to the legend, fresh leaves appeared on the tree within the year and Vlček was released. Since then the tree has been called the Lime tree of innocence.

trees

– another view from the tower, unlike the forests in the previous photo, this part looked quite barren –

From the castle you can see Saint Barbara’s Chapel which is situated on the neighbouring hill, about 1 kilometre faraway.

Buchlov-Saint-Barbara’s-chapel

– Saint Barbara’s Chapel –

Several members of the clans who owned the castle are buried there, under the chapel. I know that many chapels and churches hide graves but this chapel radiates its purpose of being used as a funeral crypt absolutely. Thought there were altars and an organ, the inside looked more like a memorial than a chapel to me. A bit strange, I’ve never seen anything like that.

buchlov-6

– a decoration above the entrance to the Saint Barbara’s Chapel –

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22 Comments

  1. It's just so hard for my American mind to grasp the idea of buildings that were built 7 or 8 centuries ago. Your photos are beautiful and the history you shared very interesting. I loved the detail in the picture of the decoration above the entrance to the Saint Barbara's Chapel.

    1. Linda, thank you. I was trying to find out what the decoration represents, e.g. the ovals could depict coats of arms of the last two clans, but that’s probably not the case though one of the clans did have the peacock included in its coat of arms.

  2. Seconds – or lets say the left over pizza, stew, dinner always taste better the second day. So, your second visit was much better than the first. Your account of the history is so darn interesting, as I have always loved to learn of other people's histories. I especially loved "The Lime Tree Of Innocence". I have enjoyed this post very, very much Petra. Great job and fascinating.

    1. Ginnie, thank you. I wonder whether the lime tree truly was planted as it is related nowadays but the date and names make the story believable.

      When listening to life stories narrated during guided tours, one finds out that many quite extraordinary people lived in such castles. E.g. the brothers mentioned here, Leopold I. and Bedřich Berchtolds must have been really smart and generous men, both of them doctors, travellers and scientists. In terms of the period they lived in, of course, but it would be utterly interesting to read more about them.

  3. Hi, Petra. Thank you so much for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I do appreciate it, and it's my pleasure to return the favor.

    Your pictures and history are terrific, and like other commenters, I'm quite taken with the pine growing in such an unexpected place, and with the story of the lime tree. However, the "internal organs of deceased ancestors" as a wedding gift? (gulp) I believe I'd rather have a toaster. HA!

    Since I'd like to see and learn more about your country, count me in as your newest follower. It's very nice to met you.

    1. Susan, thank you for coming, leaving your appreciative comment and following my blog, I’m really pleased about that!

      It’s unbelievable where the pine gets nutrition but this way or that way, it seems self-sufficient.

      A toaster would be my choice as well, even if it was a second or third one. Obviously they understood it as presenting something absolutely special. Which it was, special… 🙂

  4. Hello Petra,
    It's good this old castle has existed for such a long time, telling lots of stories or changes happening there to visitors. Amazing is the pine tree! Here as well I find a pine tree growing on the big rock with its big roots cracking and crashing the rock. I can feel everlasting time passing slowly.
    It's interesting the huge hand-written book on herbs and plants was displayed. Some must have been precious alternative medicines.
    Thank you for sharing your interesting trip!

    1. Keiko, thank you. I’m used to seeing birches settled on e.g. old roofs but I’ve never noticed a pine growing in such an unexpected place. I like what you wrote about feeling the everlasting time passing by…

      The books on herbs might contain interesting pieces of information regarding alternative medicine even today. You’ve made me wonder whether anyone had been studying the books before they were displayed.

    1. Ramakant, thank you. The more I hear about castles and stories they tell, the more interesting I find it. Sometimes it’s difficult to get oriented in the complex history and all the names but there is always a story to enjoy.

  5. Thank you so much for this very interesting and informative post, Petra!! The story of the lime tree intrigued me a lot. And the amazing pine tree! What a tough tree growing out of the cement!
    Your photos are wonderful! I particularly love the second one. The windows look so lovely!!

    1. Sapphire, thank you so much for your appreciative comment. It’s made me think about trees generally, how many stories they have and how interesting they might be!

      Thank you for letting me know which photo you particularly like, it’s interesting to know!

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