Castles and Chateaux in the Czech Republic launch the Year of the House of Luxembourg 2016

State-owned castles and chateaux administered by the National Heritage Institute (NPÚ) are launching the Year of the House of Luxembourg in which, by various events and programmes both entertaining and educational, they will commemorate and celebrate the 700th anniversary of the birth of Charles IV. The heritage monuments are also gearing up for the new season with new guided tour routes and exhibitions.

This year, marking the 700th anniversary of the birth of Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia Charles IV, the National Heritage Institute has decided to commemorate the whole Luxembourg dynasty. Consequently, the project entitled In the Footsteps of the Czech Nobility, now in its sixth year, has been given the moniker the Year of the House of Luxembourg and the National Heritage Institute will join with it the official national Carolingian celebrations. The hub and the “headquarters” of the Year of the House of Luxembourg is set to be the state-owned Karlštejn Castle, iconically identified with Charles IV.

The main event of the year - the exhibition titled The Karlštejn Treasure. Culture of the Imperial Court of Charles IV – is to open from May 7, right there in Karlštejn Castle. “As the title suggests it will present the so-called Karlštejn Treasure, a collection of almost 400 items from the period of Charles IV, which tells us about the culture and lifestyle at Charles’ court. Drinking vessels, fashion accessories such as jewellery, buckles, clasps and buttons, still a novelty during Charles IV’s reign, as well as receptacles for aromatic herbs and ointments, known as povoňky, were an indelible part of the ruler’s everyday life and shed light on the lifestyle during his time,” says the director general of the National Heritage Institute, Naďa Goryczková, in her invitation to the exhibition. The Karlštejn Treasure, which by the number and extraordinary quality of its items represents a unique heritage of global significance, is thought to have been stashed away within the thick Karlštejn walls during the Hussite Wars when the castle was under siege by the troops of the Praguers. For almost 600 years it then waited for its two discoverers, bricklayers working on the reconstruction of the castle at the end of the 19th century. Via the Prague exchanger Eduard Kisch the treasure gradually found its way to the collections of the industrialist and renowned collector Jindřich Waldes, and after the nationalisation of Waldes’s factory in 1947 and the liquidation of his private textile museum it has been kept in the holdings of the Prague Museum of Decorative Arts, in collaboration with which the exhibition is taking shape. The exhibition curators are Naděžda Kubů and Duňa Panenková.

In addition to the Karlštejn Treasure exhibition, which will keep its doors open throughout the season, the castle administration is preparing, for example, evening guided tours concentrated mainly to the summer months. Each Friday from May to September there will be intimate guided tours of the Sacred Space of nocturnal Karlštejn, to be followed each Wednesday in July and August by Evening Castle Wandering with a surprise and on the summer holiday weekends of July 15–16 and August 12–13 by Long Live the King! Long Live the Emperor! Or Through the Life of Charles IV. For the summer the castle has prepared a special staging of the famous musical – A Night in Karlštejn. However, visitors can arrive for guided tours of Karlštejn from March 1, every day except Mondays.

Side by side with the exhibition The Karlštejn Treasure. Culture of the Imperial Court of Charles IV, which will be open throughout the season, the Karlštejn Castle administration is planning a number of events, such as unique guided tours and extraordinary performances.

Two significant events – two new exhibitions expanding the existing guided tour routes – are in preparation in Veveří Castle and Jindřichův Hradec Chateau. With an exhibition entitled Lion and Eagle. The Moravian House of Luxembourg and its Castle starting from July 2, Veveří Castle will remember John the Blind (John of Bohemia) and Charles IV as rulers of Moravia and together with them important members of the Moravian branch of the dynasty – Margrave Jan Jindřich and his sons Jošt and Prokop. The spotlight will be on Veveří Castle, the principal royal residence in Moravia, major fort and site of key political negotiations. On the first weekend after the exhibition’s opening a rare relic from the Luxembourg period – a pontifical glove of St. Adalbert of Prague from the treasure house in Boleslav -   will be on show in the castle providing evidence of the deep spiritual tradition of the Luxembourg age.

In collaboration with the Prague Archbishopric, extremely rare and in Moravia never before presented exhibits from the St. Wenceslas Treasure linked with the Luxembourg dynasty’s activities as founders will be showcased in the castle. “The Bohemian and Moravian Houses of Luxembourg will be symbolically linked by three significant medieval works: we will display the regal Crown of Saint Wenceslas for one weekend in April in Veveří Castle and visitors to Karlštejn will in turn be able to see the Madonna of Šternberk. Alternately, in September the Crown will travel to Šternberk and a copy of the Madonna of Veveří to Karlštejn,“ explains the director general of the National Heritage Institute, Naďa Goryczková.

From August, Jindřichův Hradec Chateau will present the Legend of Saint George and its rendering in Jindřichův Hradec through an exhibition entitled The Followers of Saint George. The exhibition which is being installed in Oldřich Castle - the High Gothic section of Jindřichův Hradec Chateau - will be dedicated to the local Legend of Saint George, a cycle of wall paintings of European significance, providing a peek into the life of society at the time of the “Chivalrous King” John the Blind. This extraordinary heritage monument in the form of fine art captures multiple scenes from the period of the blossoming chivalric culture under John the Blind and Charles IV when, through the court of Oldřich III in Jindřichův Hradec, sophisticated courtly culture was arriving in Bohemia from the Danube basin as well as the Minnesingers. The exhibition will guide visitors through the castle’s medieval period, suggesting how the spaces could have been used and introducing the chivalric culture of the first half of the 14th century and the figure of Oldřich III of Hradec, one of the outstanding characters of that time. The highlight of the guided tour is the chamber with the Legend of Saint George, where the story narrated by the legend, its artistic significance and the context of its origin will be presented.

The visitor season will culminate this year again with the NIGHT AT THE CASTLE/CHATEAU 2016, a grand celebration of summer and the summer holidays taking place on the last Saturday in August in dozens of castles and chateaux throughout the country. The main programme on Saturday, August 27 will be unveiled – in the presence of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV – in Karlštejn Castle. Guided tours of the castle will be accompanied by a programme in the courtyard satisfying the soul (Krless, In Flamenus, Grál) and the body (tasting of grilled delicacies) and they will end for the first time in the castle’s history with fireworks.

Together with the extraordinary historical figure of Charles IV and members of his family we will also look back at members of his entourage and the whole period during which the House of Luxembourg ruled over Bohemia – in a number of other castles and chateaux. In Křivoklát Castle the season will reach its peak with the exhibition The Wenceslas Bible dedicated to this excellent work of art, which through its many miniatures illustrates life at the royal court and society at the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries. From May 1, the royal castle of Točník will open an exhibition of manuscript depictions and models of military and warfare technology called Bellifortis. He Who Is Strong At War. From May 14 to October 31 Šternberk Castle will introduce, through the exhibition Albert II of Šternberk in the Service of Charles IV, a close friend and advisor to Charles, his time and the Gothic castle chapel which he had rebuilt as a memorial to his career.

To coincide with the Year of the House of Luxembourg, the National Heritage Institute will launch a plethora of EXHIBITIONS and LECTURES both for the expert and the general public.

The Institute’s regional branch in Loket is organizing a series of lectures and a travelling exhibition entitled Feuda Extra Curtem. Charles IV and New Bohemia. It will focus on the foreign fiefs of the Bohemian Crown and the heritage monuments which the Luxembourg dynasty left behind outside the boundaries of Bohemia and which tend to be overlooked in the Czech environment – Lauf Castle with the coats-of-arms hall displaying a heraldic set of 112 symbols of the Bohemian nobility, the imperial Pfalz in Forheim, the decoration of which was executed in collaboration with leading artists from Bohemia, or the small town of Sulzbach, which was the administrative centre of Bohemian Pfalz as an independent crown land. The exhibition will travel around heritage monuments connected with the life or political activities of members of the Luxembourg dynasty (the royal castle in Loket, the Franciscan monastery in Cheb, the royal mint in Jáchymov, etc.) and will be accompanied by lectures given by eminent experts from leading institutions.

With the exhibition called Architectural Heritage of the Luxembourg Period in North-West Bohemia, the Institute’s regional branch in Ústí nad Labem will highlight, from April 29 to June 30, the enterprises of the Luxembourg dynasty from the time of their reign which have survived in this region. It will present four types of cultural heritage (monasteries, churches, castles and murals) exemplified by existing buildings influenced by the art-related activities of the imperial and royal court. The exhibition in Krásné Březno Chateau will show what would have been missed had the Luxembourg dynasty not ruled there.

 

WHAT’S NEW – GUIDED TOUR ROUTES, PERMANENT AND TEMPORARY EXHIBITIONS

The years 2014 and 2015 confirmed that castles and chateaux are visited by ever growing numbers of people. In response to this fact custodians have prepared a number of new guided tour routes, permanent and temporary exhibitions.

On Sunday April 17, after 78 years, the Gothic panel painting of the Madonna of Zlatá Koruna will return to the Zlatá Koruna monastery. After a celebratory mass the painting will be carried to the newly restored monastery abbot’s chapel and will become a station on the guided tour route.

On May 27, the opening of an exceptional interactive literature exhibition in Lysice Chateau will launch the National Heritage Institute’s project under the title Marie Ebner-Eschenbach – A Woman of Three Centuries. It will pay homage to this remarkable woman, novelist and playwright, who represented a natural and authentic intermingling of the Czech- and German-speaking worlds. Marie Ebner of Eschenbach was one of the literary authors who were essential in raising general awareness of the picturesque Moravia and its cultural distinctiveness and she served with love her native country as an artist. A cultural figure of European stature, she was the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate from Vienna University and among other honours she was also nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1911. While still at the beginning of the past century, she had already been included in school curricula and textbooks and schoolchildren in Austria, Switzerland and Germany are duly instructed in the message of her humanist works. The project has materialized under the auspices of the minister of culture of the Czech Republic and the Austrian ambassador in the Czech Republic.

From May to October an exhibition in Jaroměřice nad Rokytnou Chateau called A Chateau with the Smell of Petrol will take us back to the beginning of the 20th century and the period’s novelty that enchanted not only the nobility - automobiles. A sheet-metal vintage car, toy pedal cars for children and the chateau garage are sure to attract to a visit.

In mid-May an exhibition open till the end of the season entitled Noble Obsession will start in Dačice Chateau. It is dedicated to the scientific predilections and the collecting passion of the aristocracy in the Czech lands. A new permanent exhibition titled The Enchantment of Antiquity in Duchcov Chateau can be visited from the beginning of June; several dozen copies of sculptures from the collection of Charles University in Prague will invite you on an excursion into Antiquity, its art and mythology, and simultaneously show the influence of Antiquity on the life of the nobility. New routes of guided tours will also be open from June 1 in Zákupy Chateau (Reichstadt); The Summer Residence of Emperor Ferdinand II of Austria (additionally including a new apartment dedicated to Napoleon’s son L’Aiglon, who, for a short time was also the owner of Zákupy with the title of Duke of Reichstadt) and Visiting the Habsburgs will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I, who was the last owner but one of the chateau. A new herbal shop selling herbal teas, blends and other products will be installed in the courtyard of Kuks Hospital, which reopened to the public exactly a year ago after a comprehensive exemplary renovation and during the past season attracted five times more visitors than before the facelift.

The National Heritage Institute is the largest not-for-profit organization of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic. The legislation which is presently in place, in particular the Heritage Preservation Act, has entrusted it with a number of specialized tasks related to state heritage monument care. For example, it provides expert reports needed for the decision-making executive, it is methodologically active in the unification of approaches to preserving and developing the values of the heritage monuments within the territory of the Czech Republic and is responsible for maintaining the list thereof. It is actively involved in the process of enlisting the individual objects, buildings and areas as cultural heritage monuments and provides within its capacity for their documentation. For its undertakings regarding the expert component of heritage monument care it has available a network of 14 regional branches with offices in every administrative region of the country. As a scientific and research organization, the National Heritage Institute collaborates on a number of projects, fulfils research tasks, provides specialized training in the area of heritage monument care and publishes around 50 publications every year. Additionally, it administers more than one hundred buildings/heritage monuments owned by the state – castles and chateaux (from Karlštejn via Hluboká, Jindřichův Hradec to the Lednice-Valtice Area), monasteries (Plasy, Kladruby near Stříbro, Zlatá Koruna and others), folk architecture heritage (Hamous’ Farm in Zbečno, open-air museums in Zubrnice, Příkazy or Veselý Kopec) as well as industrial architecture (Michal Colliery in Ostrava), most of which are open to the public.

Contact information:

Jana Tichá, press officer National Heritage Institute, tel. +420 257 010 206, +420 724 511 225, ticha.jana@npu.cz

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