Blog WHS Visits
WHS #683: Litomysl Castle
Litomysl Castle was one of the three castles of southeast Czechia that were still on my to do list. I decided to tackle all of them (Litomysl, Kromeriz and Lednice/Valtice) during one fast paced weekend break. Early Saturday morning I flew to Vienna, a more convenient hub than Prague for this scope. There I rented a car and drove for 3 hours until I arrived in Litomysl. Not all rental companies allow you to take the car from Austria into Czechia (Sixt does). And you have to be aware to buy a Czech toll vignette at a petrol station after crossing the border. Otherwise it’s all straightforward.
Thanks to its ca. 8,000 sgraffito ‘bricks’ that fully cover its exterior, this Castle strongly stands out amidst its baroque surroundings. It is located above the town center on Castle Hill and surrounded by a French formal garden, the English style castle garden, the brewery, riding hall, stables and carriage house – which all belong to the core zone too. I did not plan to take castle tours at all 3 castles of this weekend, but for Litomysl I thought it could be worth it because its tour includes a visit to the 18th century theatre. Between April and October there are regular tours scheduled. At the ticket office I was put on the list for the 2 pm tour. So I had over an hour to spare, which I spent in the city center (‘dead’ on a Saturday afternoon, just as I experienced in Zatec earlier this year) and in the cheerful coffee shop that is located in the castle’s former carriage house.
Some 30 people turned up for the tour: all Czech, 95% female. The tours are only conducted in Czech. I was given a book with explanations in English and could tag along. Before I knew it we were already in the theatre, that’s where the tour starts with a long explanation of the castle’s history and the theatre. It’s a very intimate theatre where today’s 30 visitors just fitted in the regular seating for guests – the nobility used to sit in the balconies overhead. The Czech guide obviously told much more than was in my book, so I just stared at the Italian inspired landscape scenes painted on the stage screens. It’s a pity that we could not see the stage machinery in action.
Afterwards we went on to the first floor, which has the best views of the courtyard with 3 rows of arcades that characterizes this building. From there we entered a series of palatial rooms. They have original wooden floors but no shoe covers are required – there’s a red carpet that you walk on. The whole building isn’t that large, so we only visited some 8 rooms furnished with rococo furniture, colourful painted wallpaper and the likes. The final room of the tour is the Horse Rider’s Anteroom: the Waldstein-Wartenberg family that owned this castle in the 18th century loved their horses and bred a special race of them at Kladruby (of the stud farm TWHS). Huge paintings of these different coloured horses adorn this room.
This WHS belongs to a myriad of connections that are so common in European palaces – I added sun dial (there are 2 of them), rococo (reading room in the interior), library (in the 17th century it held 4,000 books), neo-classical (theatre), baroque (sundials and 18th century modifications of the interior), French formal garden, English landscape garden. I discovered a new connection too: Litomysl is part of the European Route of Historic Theatres. This covers lots of theatres and opera houses in different European regions, including Cesky Krumlov Castle Theatre, Graz Opera House, Margravial Opera House, New Palace Theater in Potsdam and the Teatro Garcia de Resende in Evora.
Els - 21 October 2018