There are not many places where you could find a Gothic castle, Renaissance palace and Baroque chateau as parts of one complex but I can show you one. If you come to Bečov nad Teplou, a wonderful view of such a complex surrounded by deep forests will open in front of you.
First reliable information on the castle’s existence comes from 1349 when it was unequivocally documented in a charter. To a considerable extent, period decoration and many building features have been preserved as well as the medieval look of the castle.
The chateau was built much later, at the beginning of the 18th century. After the WWII, when Beauforts – the last owners of the property – were forced to leave because of their collaboration with the Nazis, there was a school in there. After extensive reconstruction, the chateau was open to the public in 1996.
There are two floors to be visited in the chateau. The second floor presents rooms decorated with the period furniture, nothing surprising I guess. But the first floor is dedicated to a very special Romanesque relic which was found in the chateau and its history – the St. Moor Reliquary. The Reliquary is a relic of both Czech and European importance. It was made in the first quarter of the 13th century for the Benedictine abbey in Florennes (nowadays Belgium) to keep relics of St. John Baptist, St. Moor and St. Timothy. Its wooden core is covered with opulent goldsmith decoration.
During the French Revolution the monastery was plundered and the reliquary was transferred to a local church. In 1838 it was bought by Alfred de Beaufort, the owner of the Bečov’s manor, who let it restore and bring to Bečov in 1888. As I’ve already remarked, the Beaufords were NSDAP and SS party members and so they had to leave the Czech Republic after Germany had lost the WWII. Before they left, they had dug the reliquary under the castle’s chapel floor. It was found there in November 1985, unfortunately in very bad condition. Yet it was “discovery of the century” and following long and demanding restoration, the reliquary has been displayed since 2002. A story resembling crime fiction, isn’t it?
So you can either buy tickets for a guided tour and perhaps sit down on a bench at the entrance while waiting for the beginning of the tour… or you can stroll around in the garden and admire its impressive decoration and surroundings.
And when you’ve seen enough, you can leave… but believe me, you’ll never forget that remarkable place.