The Carlsbad Region is a land of stories and legends. The history of this region, which is of great significance in a European context, can be felt wherever you go, whether you head into the mountains, the foothill areas or its main towns. Royalty, the nobility, Baroque master builders, skilful craftsmen and artists have all left their mark on the region down the ages. Castles packed with mysterious treasures, grand monasteries and huge chateau parks await visitors. Some come to the Carlsbad, a place where experiences live long in the memory.
A Gothic treasure trove perched high on a rocky promontory on a sharp bend in the River Ohře, this castle is steeped in legend and alive with culture. Loket Castle lures visitors down to its prison where they will find an exhibition on torture, to the armoury museum and an exhibition of period porcelain. The castle has stood near Carlsbad since the 13th century and today is one of the region’s principal attractions. Discover the intriguing fate of Czech nobles, skilful craftsmen and tormented overlords of this high-perched hideout. And who knows, you might even spot the dragon that is said to dwell in the castle tower.
In the park below the castle you’ll find a children’s playground, a rope park and an amphitheatre with a fantastic atmosphere where many cultural events take place throughout the year.
Castle & Chateau in Bečov nad Teplou
The castle complex in Bečov nad Teplou is home to the second most valuable piece of heritage in the country after the Bohemian crown jewels. The Reliquary of St. Maurus, the subject of a true-life spy story, is a Romanesque treasure. The oldest diamonds used to decorate the reliquary date from the 2nd century. The reliquary contains the relics of John the Baptist, St Maurus, St Timothy and St Apollinaire. Next to the chateau rises a prominent Gothic castle on a high promontory.
Nature lovers will find the town’s large botanical gardens, a trail focusing on rock-dwelling vegetation (bioferrata) and freely accessible row boats on a lake of greatest interest. Bečov Castle offers tailor-made tours for children. There’s also a kids’ corner with a slide built to look like a castle and a site where kids can practice there archaeology skills.
Kynžvart Chateau is a place of many interesting tales – it’s even said that the museum collection includes the mace that once belonged to Jan Žižka. Located on the edge of the Slavkovský Forest, the chateau is surrounded by parkland full of exotic trees, gazebos and statuary scattered among ponds and streams. This is the former residence of Austrian Chancellor Metternich and contains a museum boasting a collection of period coins, natural and manmade curiosities, weapons from exotic countries, a UNESCO-listed daguerreotype and an extensive library containing 24 thousand volumes.
Among the chateau’s treasures we find a statue of the goddess Diana based on a similar figure in Versailles, as well as an amazing dining room dressed in gold. In nearby Kladská you can take a stroll through the peat bog of the Kladská nature reserve, the trail suitable for prams and wheelchairs. Children can take a special, fun tour led by Agatha the witch, during which they can become princes and princesses for the day.
Chyše Chateau dates back to the 12th century and was brought to wider attention by Karel Čapek who stayed there in 1917 and even set two of his works there – Krakatit and The Makropulos Affair. This Baroque pile has been owned by several aristocratic families, the last of which were the Lažanský clan. It was nationalised after the war and fell into a state of disrepair until the 1990s, when it was returned to a descendant of the Lažanský family who began renovating the building. Today you can walk through the chateau interiors, including a hall boasting ceiling murals by Petr Brandl, a set of cellars and exhibition dedicated to Karel Čapek.
At the historical brewery and restaurant you can try beer brewed according to old Bohemian recipes.
You can feel the weight of history wherever you look at Cheb Castle – it did, after all, witness a royal wedding and the murder of Albrecht von Wallenstein’s aides. It is the only Štauf imperial castle in the country. Of the palace and Romanesque fortress belonging to Barbarossa, only the torso with its hefty defensive Black Tower and the unique Romano-Gothic chapel survive after the complex was attacked in the 18th century. The underground casemates can also be visited – here you’ll discover an exhibition of Cheb stonemasonry and tombstones from an ancient Slavic burial ground.
Head to the centre of Cheb to admire a group of unique merchants’ houses called the Špalíček, or explore the town’s well-preserved historical attics from the late Middle Ages which were commissioned by wealthy merchants.
The second largest monastery library in Bohemia and a 12th-century church are two of the highlights of this monastery complex in the town of Teplá, run by Premonstratensian monks for centuries until the end of WWII. After decades of neglect it was handed back to the Church in 1990, after which it was opened up for visitors. The right wing is the precious Baroque convent
and prelature building, the work of top Baroque architect Christoph Dientzenhofer. The north wing offers accommodation looking out over a park and lake.
Take a hike along the 33km-long Alois Martin David trail that commemorates this famous astronomer and topographist.