Hluboká nad Vltavou

The Castle of Hluboká nad Vltavou, also known as the Pearl of South Bohemia, is considered to be the most beautiful residential mansion in Bohemia. It is situated 10 km north of České Budějovice on a rocky promontory over the Vltava River in a village of the same name which was originally named Podhradí but assumed the name of the castle at the end of the 19th century.

The original early Gothic castle was built during the reign of Přemysl Otakar II, who initiated its construction, in the second half of the 13th century. When Přemysl Otakar II was defeated in the Battle of the Marchfeld in 1278, he lost Hluboká, and the castle was obtained by the Vítkovec family for their efforts against him. After the Vitkovec were defeated by his son Václav II and their leader Záviš of Falkenštejn was executed before the castle, Hluboká returned once again into royal hands. The Hluboká estates were always offered as security whenever the monarchy ran out of money.

In the 15th century, Hluboká became the center of the emerging fishpond industry. This is likely the time that the nearby Bezdrev fishpond was founded. The first ruler to whom the monarchy sold Hluboká into hereditary property was Jáchym of Hradec in 1562, who undertook the demanding task of transforming the medieval fortified castle into a residential Renaissance chateau. The castle changed hands many times, including noble families such as the Houses of Lobkowicz and Lichtenstein. In 1661, the chateau as well as the Třeboň estates were purchased by the Schwarzenberg family, who owned it until 1947. During their possession, Hluboká underwent two further reconstructions.

The castle was first reconstructed in Baroque style, while its present appearance comes from the period of high Romanticism between 1839 and 1871. Viennese architect F. Beer modified the castle in Tudor Gothic style, inspired by the English royal castle in Windsor.

The arrival of the two World Wars and the land reforms of 1919 presented a rather difficult period. Dr. Adolf Schwarzenberg assumed administration over the entire estate in 1923. His love for hunting was shared by his wife Hilda, and in 1933 they purchased the Mpala farm in Kenya. After the death of his father in 1938, Adolf became the sole owner of the entire Schwarzenberg dominion under the Hluboká-Krumlov branch. After the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, he was forced to leave the Republic and retreat to Italy and later to the USA. His adoptive son Jindřich (Orlík branch) was imprisoned in concentration camps.

In 1945, forced administration was imposed on the castle and all property was confiscated; in 1947, the controversial Lex Schwarzenberg signaled the expropriation of all Schwarzenberg property by the state. Hluboká Castle is now managed by the Czech National Heritage Institute (NPU).

Inside the castle are 140 richly equipped rooms. The castle’s articulated facade is dominated by a large Schwarzenberg coat of arms with the family motto “NIL NISI RECTUM”. There is also an English-style castle park directly adjacent to the chateau.

The Hluboká collection of tapestries, weapons, ceramics, porcelain, and original Schwarzenberg kitchens are also quite renowned. A view onto the surroundings from the castle tower is an unforgettable experience.

The hunting, fishing, and wild game traditions that Hluboká has been renowned for since 1841 are concentrated in the forestry and hunting museum in the Ohrada Baroque hunting lodge, built 1708-1721. Next to the hunting lodge, the Hluboká Zoo features predominantly smaller European fauna.

The nearby “Karlův hrádek”, or Karlshaus, was founded by King Charles IV as a hunting castle. Parts of the villages of Bavorovice and Munice still feature preserved folk architecture known as “Hlubocká blata”. Part of the town of Purkarec is known for its wood-rafting traditions.

Today, Hluboká nad Vltavou is a rapidly developing town that supports local business activities offering a broad range of cultural, sporting, relaxation, and culinary opportunities and boasting facilities that are sure satisfy every visitor – hotels, guesthouses, camps, chalets, private accommodations, 40 restaurants, a summer swimming pool with waterslide, indoor swimming pool with sauna, modern 3D cinema, open and covered tennis courts, winter stadium, baseball area, riding stadium, golf course, adrenaline park, children's area, adventure minigolf, and fitness.

The surroundings of Hluboká are interwoven with a dense network of cycle paths that are ideal for families with children and for passionate cyclists alike. Hikers will surely be pleased by the attractive nature trails.

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