The high Gothic castle Karlstejn was founded in 1348. It has a unique position among Czech castles. It was built by Czech King and Roman Emperor Charles IV as a place for safekeeping of the royal treasures, especially Charles's collection of holy relics and the coronation jewels of the Roman Empire. Karlstejn Castle differs entirely from other 14th century castles and also from the other founded by the same person.

The first stay of Charles IV in the castle is documented in 1355. He came to supervise the building works as well as the decoration of interiors, especially the castle chapels. The construction of the castle was finished in 1365 when the Chapel of the Holy Cross situated in the Great tower was consecrated. Don't miss Karlstejn if you're in the Czech Republic.

The metamorphoses of Karlstejn

At Karlstejn, however, Charles IV fully developed in architectural forms the whole complicated system of his world outlooks and ideas on state, the ideology of the monarch powers of the Czech king and his imperial dignity. His richly developed mystic thinking and feeling, his allegorical fantasy and the high demands he placed on culture predetermined the building programme of the castle.

At the outbreak of the Hussite wars the castle became the place for safekeeping of the Czech coronation jewels. They were kept here, with the exception of several short-time breaks, for nearly 200 years. You can find them in the Prague Castle now. The Karlstejn castle was reconstructed in late Gothic style after 1480 and in Renaissance style in the last quarter of the 16th century. The present appearance of the castle comes from the last reconstruction, which was carried out in the purist neo-Gothic style by architect Josef Mocker at the end of the 19th century.

Unique treasures

But something stays in unique way. Very impressive is the original step-like order of buildings. From the Well tower and Burgrave's palace located as the lowest you walk up to the majestic five-storied Imperial palace and further up towards the Marian tower. And finally at the top of the headland stands the monumental 60m high and separately fortified Great tower.

Entirely unique is the original decoration of wall paintings dating back to the 14th century, collection of 129 panel paintings by Master Theodoric in the Chapel of the Holy Cross (the world largest of its kind), the largest portrait gallery of Czech rulers in the country, exhibited replica of St. Wenceslas crown - the coronation crown of the Czech Kings as well as the unique castle well.

We can definitely recommend Karlstejn to anyone visiting Prague or whole Czech Republic.