Thursday, August 4, 2011

Let's Explore Knights in Shining Armor and Tales of Princess Castles


A gentle boy, with soft and silken locks
A dreamy boy, with brown and tender eyes,
A castle-builder, with his wooden blocks,
And towers that touch imaginary skies.

A fearless rider on his father's knee,
An eager listener unto stories told
At the Round Table of the nursery,
Of heroes and adventures manifold.

There will be other towers for thee to build;
There will be other steeds for thee to ride;
There will be other legends, and all filled
With greater marvels and more glorified.

Build on, and make thy castles high and fair,
Rising and reaching upward to the skies;
Listen to voices in the upper air,
Nor lose thy simple faith in mysteries.

Did you know that there are over 2,000 castles, castle ruins, and chateaux in the Czech Republic?  Yes indeed!  According to the Guinness book of World Records, the Czech Republic has the most castles per square mile of any major country in the World (Liechtenstein has more per square mile, but it’s only 62 square miles vs the Czech Republic's 49,007 square miles).

Ladies, tighten your corsets; men, polish your swords...let's saddle our palfreys and imagine the days of yore!

  Hrad Bítov (Castle Bitov)
In the village of Bítov, some 25 km northwest of Znojmo, sits the castle Bítov.  Built in the 11th-century, it's one of the last remaining Moravian castles in Eastern Europe.  

Bítov gained its present form at the beginning of the 19th-century.  It's the former home of the Counts of Daun (descendants of Marshall Daun, the famous military leader) whose ancestors rebuilt the castle in the spirit of the Romantic style.  

Because there's always a legend...
The Dauns were an ancient family, originating in the Rhineland town of Daun. Legend says that the name Daun comes from the Celtic “Dune”, which means hill.  The time of their greatest social rise was during the Thirty Years’ War, when they were ennobled as counts for their military services.

Count Leopold Joseph von Daun

Between 1811 and 1845 the richly decorated state rooms were created.  The culmination of the re-gothicising work was the remodeling of the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin (kostel Nanebevzetí Panny Marie) by Viennese architect Anton Rucker, who left the original Gothic furnishings.   In the 20th century, the castle underwent another extensive renovation, reflecting Czech early gothic architecture and style.

 Church of the Assumption of the Virgin 

Shall we take a look around?

Clock tower

I find this so appealing...would love a home that looks like this, complete with beautiful trailing ivy and a fountain

My love of castles is genetic!
To my parents - thank you for humoring me and my passion!

Family Daun coat-of-arms?

Shall we take a look inside?  
I really wouldn't mind waking up to this view of the  River Želetavka every day...

My nemesis...

But I do it anyway.  
And that's why sometimes my pictures turn out like this...

Other times, like this...

The interior is just too spectacular not to take photos!

Love the femininity!

I can visualize the dinner parties now

Znojmo is known for its wineries so I'm not surprised that the castle has its own cellar.  A wine tasting?  Don't mind if I do!

   Baron Jiří Haas, Jr., was a great lover of animals, a forerunner of contemporary nature conservationists.  He hated killing and compared to his mother, he was also against hunting.  He was a sportsman, a keen horse rider, and an amateur zoologist.  His nature was pedantic, eccentric, boisterous, and inconsistent, though generous and tender-hearted.  He turned the castle into one of the biggest private zoological gardens in the country.  On Saturdays and Sundays his zoo was always open to the public - for free or just for petty cash for the guide.

Being an animal-lover myself, I think the Baron and I would have gotten along nicely...

Hello cutie!  I will no longer eat pork...

And you may sift through my trash any time you'd like!

I did mention that the Baron was eccentric didn't I?

Yes, you are seeing correctly.  Those are indeed squirrels dressed in clothes and dancing.  This is from his   collection that includes stuffed and dressed cats and squirrels. The animals are arranged to mimic human situations and illustrate the period fashion of “animal travesty” (1920’s) 

Castle Bítov is truly worth a visit!