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Your travel guide around Czech Republic

Konopiste Castle

The Konopiste Castle is situated approximately 30 km south of Prague following the motorway in the direction Prague-Brno. The exit takes you to Benešov, a small town founded in the 12th century, with a current population 13 000. The Castle is located 2 km away from the town.

 

The Konopiste Castle was originally founded by Prague bishop Tobias of Benešov around 1294. It was built on the basis of French fortresses, with cylinder towers, 4 gateways and a drawbridge.

When the Benešovic dynasty died out, in 1327 the Konopiste Castle became a property of Sternberk dynasty for 275 years. From the 17th to 19th century, the Castle was kept by many powerful Czech and foreign aristocratic dynasties, e.g. the family Hodejovsky of Hodejov, Albrecht of Valdstejn for a short period after the battle of White Mountain, and the family Michna of Vacinov, the family Vrtba, the Lobkowicz dynasty and others.

The first touch to a medieval structure of the castle was made in the 15th century by Jiri (George) of Sternberk and was followed by Hodejovsky family in the 17th century, and the family Vrtba converted it into a baroque residence in the 18th century.

In 1887 the Konopiste domain was bought from the Lobkowicz family by Frantisek (Franz) Ferdinand d'Este, who became a successor to the Austro-Hungarian throne in 1896.

In his possession the castle was rebuilt in a historizing style and his surroundings turned into a beautiful park. In the area of former baroque garden he founded a Rose garden with greenhouses. He placed his large collections, either inherited from his Italian ancestors, or acquired by his own collecting activity.

In 1914, Frantisek Ferdinand d'Este was present at the manoeuvres of Austrian army in Sarajevo in Bosnia, and on 28 June 1914, he and his wife Zofie fell victim to an assassination. The assassination was committed by a Serbian anarchist Gavril Princip. The Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I declared war on Serbia in a month.

In 1921 the Czechoslovak Republic took charge of the castle from the archduke`s heirs and both the castle and the park opened to public. During the World War II, the main military headquarters of SS units were placed in the Konopiste castle.

After the liberation, the Konopiste castle opened to public again.

The castle preserved its shape from the times of the archduke FF d´Este, after the last reconstruction. Most of interior equipment was also kept from the times when FF d´Este lived in the castle with his family.

 

  • Salons of the south wing

present representative and guest rooms, situated on the 1st floor of the south wing of the castle, where a lot of chinaware, period furniture and also historical paintings are placed.

 

  •  Salons of the north wing

are located in the oldest premises of the castle, decorated with Gothic and Rennaissance vaults. These suits are comprised of a stateroom, studyroom and bedroom. You go through a room called alcove and continue to the chapel St Hubert, then you go through the halls with period cabinets with weapons up to the armoury on the 3rd floor of the castle.

The weapons of so called “Este armoury” rank among the most valuable and significant ones in Central Europe. There are both cool weapons and firearms, and also the weapons of mostly Italian and German origin, of 15th – 19th centuries.

In a small hunting hall you will take a look into the private archduke`s elevator, and finally, you will see the library and the smoking salon.

 

  • Private rooms of Franz Ferdinand – exclusive tour

On the 3rd floor of the castle the private rooms were opened to public in 1994 and arranged according to the period photo documentation and the inventory, following the arrangement of the times of FF.

Through the hunting hall and so called “steep” stairs you will get to the corridor with the paintings of the 17th century, presenting the significant historical personalities.

Young man`s suite of FF consists of a studyroom, bedroom, closet, lavatory and bathroom. The interiors of a “small horn salon” and turrets, full of roe deer and chamois horns, show Franz Ferdinand`s passion for hunting.

The family met in the dining room. The rose salon served FF`s wife, Zofie Hohenberg, née Chotkova, with whom FF entered into so called morganatic marriage. FF`s children lived in further rooms; you will see the bedrooms of young men – Max and Ernest, children`s playroom and the rooms occupied by the educator Abbé Stavovský and a caretaker. At the end of the whole wing there are bedrooms of little Zofie and a musical salon.

You will take a look into the high tower, where sculptures and reliefs from FF`s collections of 15th – 18th centuries are placed. Walking through the corridor with photographs from FF`s round-the-world tour you will get to the entrance hall and then you will use the staircase to get to a small hunting hall, where our tour finishes.