Wednesday, October 5, 2011

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

Not to sound like a broken record, but... I LOVE castles.  It's time to squeeze in as many castle visits as possible before they close for the - gasp! - winter (oh the disdain I have for that season).

Today I'm feeling like a trip to Bečov nad Teplou, the Gothic castle above the steep valley of the river Teplá.

  In the 13th-century the Lords of Osek founded the castle Bečov nad Teplou (130 km from Prague) on a cliff over a provincial route for its protection and collecting duties.  

The castle reached its peak in the late 15th-century, when it belonged to the Pluh family of Rabštejn, who were engaged in gold, silver and tin mining.  The Pluh family connected two older parts of the castle and later built a new residential palace in the Renaissance style there.  The Thirty Years' War brought an end to tin prosperity and in 1648, the Swedish army damaged the castle and occupied it.  The most valuable part of the castle is the Chapel of the Visitation of Our Lady from the year 1400 - with original frescoes depicting 17 Biblical motives.

Chapel of the Visitation of Our Lady 

In the 18th-century, on the site of the former fortifications above the castle moat, a Baroque chateau with an octagonal tower was built.  The tower houses state rooms, a library and fountains.  In the 19th-century, the castle was connected with the chateau into one complex, and a beautiful complex it is! 

I love the color combination...there is just something about pink and yellow that makes me ...happy.

The interiors were renovated in the Romantic style by architect Josef Zitek.  There are valuable collections of paintings and tapestries from the property of Belgian Beaufort-Spontin family, who bought Bečov in 1813.

Architect Josef Zitek

On most, if not all castle tours, you see this sign:

But some rules are meant to be broken, no?
So with flash off and camera silenced and hidden from the tour guide's view, let's proceed...


The view from the library...overlooking the village of Bečov

Another view from the library

I fell in love with these girly chairs... 

...and these pink walls!

The castle grounds are spectacular - let's take a walk around...

View of the mansion (pink) with the Pluh's Palace behind it (yellow)

Burning coal on a chilly day...

A chata in the distance...

The garden replaced the original moat...the building beyond is the Burgrave's residence

The dark gray sky was a pretty contrast to the lightness of the buildings 

The Keep
The central portion of the site was guarded by the circular keep, the last refuge of the castle's owners.  This tower had to be dramatically lowered in 1623 due to its poor condition.  In the 19th century, its preserved 6-meter-high portion was transformed into an observation gallery

The largest part of the gardens is situated on the place of the former castle moat and brewery.  The garden is divided into six terraces that are interconnected by balustraded staircases, thereby forming an exceptionally picturesque space.  You can see why this castle is the site of many weddings.

View of the valley and the river Teplá

Bečov offers a viewing of the reliquary of St. Moor, which was bought by Alfred de Beaufort for 2,500 francs.  He had it restored and brought it to Bečov.  At the end of WWII, the Beauforts, active collaborators with the Nazi regime, left the chateau in a hurry.  The reliquary was hidden under the floor of the castle chapel for 40 years.  In 1985, the reliquary was discovered, surrounded by bottles of wine and cognac - would love to have a taste of that!

Reliquary of St. Moor

The town of Bečov was founded by the magnates of Czech princes from the noble family of Hrabišice at the beginning of the 13th century...shall we take a look around?

Iron work exhibit

It wasn't until July 15, 1996, that the castle of Bečov was opened to the public after many years of building and renovation work.  It sits proudly overlooking the town.
 A very difficult place to resist is the local pekařství... 

My favorite - koláč 

Why don't we sample a little bit of everything!

Hope you enjoyed your trip to Bečov nad Teplou!  

 Address:  Státní hrad a zámek Bečov nad Teplou 
364 64 Bečov nad Teplou