The international service of Czech Radio 
1-12-2020, 12:40 UTC
Photo Tour of Czech Republic - Castles


A huge Gothic castle towering over the little town of the same name from a promontory above the river, surounded by woods - it is a picture from a fairy tale. And if the fairy tale includes throwing people into dungeons, then the picture is complete. Today, the castle serves rather more delicate purposes, housing a collection of antique china. Once a royal castle, Loket was first mentioned in 1234 and it is quite possible that it was built even earlier, in the 11th century. Its name Loket, meaning elbow in English, is probably derived from its unique location on the top of a cliff on an ?elbow? of the Ohre River. It is one of the oldest Czech castles still preserved intact and the best example of the Upper Pfalz style of castle building, which is characterised by a massive rectangular tower. Soon after its foundation it became the administrative center of the region and a mighty stronghold, taking over the role of the ancient castle of Sedlec. In 1308, the little town of Loket started to develop under the protective castle walls. In the 14th century, the warrior King John of Luxembourg held his son Wenceslas (who was later to become the Emperor Charles IV.) prisoner in the castle, as he was extremely jealous of his throne. At the end of the 14th century, the early-Gothic castle underwent extensive alterations. Parts of the walls and battlements and the great tower remained unchanged and can be still seen today as they looked 800 years ago. The Hussites attempted to storm the castle several times during the religious wars in the 15th century, but the castle always held out, due partly to its natural defences, partly to the resilience of the defenders. From 1434 it belonged to the powerful Slik family of Jachymov. At the beginning of the 17th century it was bought by the nearby town of Loket. The castle was desolated in the 30-years war which lasted from 1620 to 1648. A great fire in 1795 almost destroyed the castle and much had to be rebuilt before the State began to use it as a prison in 1822. The much damaged castle was renovated after 1945 and now it is open to the public. The region of Locket was the centre of china production from 1792, when the china works at Horni Slavkov started production. There were also china works in the town of Loket itself, founded by the Haidinger brothers in 1815. The collection includes several priceless Baroque and neo-Classical china jugs and services. The museum also cherishes memories of the German poet J.W. Goethe, who was an admirer of the Western Bohemia region, and the largest meteorite which ever landed in this country (109 kg.) Legend has it that it is the evil master of the castle turned to stone for his sins.