Monday, December 27, 2010

Greetings from Hluboká Castle or Chateaux, 25 Dec. 2010!

The Hluboká Castle or Chateaux was built in the 13th century by Bohemian Kings and has had many owners through time--including the Schwarzenbergs--and one who built the second-largest historic fish pond in S. Bohemia, Bezdrev, in the late 1400s. It has gone through numerous remodelings (Gothic, neo-Gothic to Renaissance) to reflect the times, passions, and preferences of the owners...with the last remodeling reflecting Windsor Castle.

Hluboká Castle is located right near us, approx. 10 km (6 m) away, just north of Ceske Budejovice. The Castle is a fortress (with a great surrounding wall) on a hill overlooking the town of Hluboká with astounding views of the surrounding area in the České Budějovice BasinThe last owner left before the Nazi invasion of the country. It is now owned by the State and administered by the National Institute of Historical Monument Care, Regional Specialist Office in České Budějovice. 

It was a snowy 25 December afternoon, so we decided to head out here and see the white castle (no pun intended, Minnesotans!) asleep in the snow. The Czech Castles are usually 'asleep' during the winter months, shuttered and closed, but people can walk around and enjoy the ambience of royal living and view the garden landscapes in winter dress. This castle actually has a few winter tours and the Art Gallery is also open during the wintertime.

Here the hedges and sculptured yew or Taxus highlight the snow that's falling today:
Frozen fruits of ginkgo, Ginkgo biloba, hang as reminders of the past summer that was with hopes of a soon-dawning spring:
Let's walk around the castle grounds and see what delights we can see highlighted in the snows...
The main clock tower (a clock on each of four sides) overlooks the entire castle complex.
There are towers on each corner...
The Castle Chapel looks cold but aspiring (inside there is a library with 12,000 books!):
At this entrance, the multilevel porches are accessible with circular, wrought iron staircases...all with commanding views of the countryside of the České Budějovice Basin and to watch for invading marauders to our castle...
Imagine the fun garden parties we can host here next spring....come on in through this gorgeous door!
Notice the elaborate gargoyle drains from the porch roof:
The front doors of the Castle are massive wooden entrances, highlighted with numerous ornamentations
such as these door handles. Can anyone guess why there is a large bird pecking these guys' heads? It's a common theme in S. Bohemia (a statue of birds doing such things is in the courtyard of the Rzmberk Castle in Trebon).  You'll have to come visit and tour the Castle to find out!

To protect guests and family from the cold and snow, how about glass walkways to go from the castle to the glasshouse or 'Orangerie' and then to the Art Gallery?
The very heavy doors of the Orangerie were open, despite the cold, so we ventured inside to view the ornate greenhouse architecture and see what was being exhibited at the Art Gallery. While we didn't find a date for it, based on the glass type and glazing, we figure the Orangerie was built sometime in the mid-1800s or so, certainly after Lord & Burnham (U.K.) discovered embedding glass into putty (glazing).
Closeups of the overlapped glass panes and the ornate structural components of the sideposts:
 Inside the Organerie, are massive mature ivy specimens which survive, despite the cold (this is NOT heated!)
 Here's the bill posting the current exhibition
in the Art Gallery:

In the beauty and silence of our sleepy castle, the landscapes wait as the days lengthen, soon to burst forth.  Join us later in the spring when this becomes verdant Castle living again!
For further information on the Hluboká Castle or Chateaux, consult their website:

Disclaimer: This blog is not an official University of Minnesota or Fulbright Program blog. The views expressed are my own and not those of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations, or the University of Minnesota.

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