Renaissance Reconstructions of Český Krumlov Castle

The lifestyle of the foremost Czech lord as well as the highest-ranking official required, apart from other things, an imposing seat. During the reign of Wilhelm von Rosenberg the Český Krumlov Castle remained the main Rosenberg residence and the construction of the Prague palace was completed in Hradčany, which was used by its owner during his frequent stays in the royal seat of the Bohemian Kingdom. The Leptáč Fortress was completely rebuilt and turned into a delightful summer manor called Kratochvíle. Adaptations were also carried out in the Třeboň Castle.

This sphere of the second to last Rosenberg ruler\'s interest was aptly summed up in the very end of his biography by Václav Březan who wrote: "And a special fancy he took in building. He thus reformed the old Krumlov castle, improper, narrow, dark and gloomy, widened nearly all its rooms, made it jolly and spacious, so apart from the old tower, nothing of its old appearance survived. In the lower area he put through and through a beautiful building, with double vaulting, one on the other, below with stables and a room, a kitchen with a pantry on the other side, while above he raised suitable rooms for castle offices. Also the very fancy Little Castle, with a round tower, pretty and graceful, her location and beauty having no equal in Bohemia."


The Český Krumlov Castle that Wilhelm took over in 1551 as a mediaeval castle (Český Krumlov Castle in Gothic Period). became the centre of the Renaissance court. Some experts assume that its faithful appearance from the first half of the 16th century is portrayed in the copy of the original painting, known as the (Division of the Roses), which was not preserved. Over the course of 1560-1590 considerable reconstructions which turned the castle into a Renaissance residence were carried out.

At the beginning of Wilhelm\'s reign, it was the southern wing which Peter IV. von Rosenberg had built in 1513 in the IInd or back courtyard, that created the latest part of the Český Krumlov Upper Castle (Castle No. 59 - Upper Castle). According to historic sources, it could be assumed that the adaptations also included the western and northern wings.

The castle sections around this back courtyard were most probably attended to as well, especially to the decoration of the courtyard facade. In 1580\'s, new chimney bodies were built. There is no doubt that reconstructions of the interiors were made, as an inventory of furnishings from the year1600 produce adequate evidence. It is known that the ground-floor room under the former Green room or today\'s Masquerade Hall, where Wilhelm had a new spacious castle kitchen built in 1563, was completely rebuilt. Before, it was most probably used as a room for stable boys.

Main building activities were concentrated around the IVth Courtyard of Český Krumlov Castle. At the beginning of the 1560\'s, the courtyard area was enclosed by setting up the northen wing where an airy and high Heraldic room was founded on the first floor. The corridor leading across a newly built horizontal arch buttress that was built in 1570\'s connected the staircase along the Heraldic room with the ruler\'s chambers and the chapel.

Fresco decoration on the 4th courtyard of Český Krumlov Castle (16th century)

At the same time a large-scale adaptation of the southern wing in the front courtyard (see IIIrd Courtyard of Český Krumlov Castle) began. On its first floor, in addition to the chapel, two new rooms known as the Pelican rooms from 1600 were set up and on the second floor the Imperial or Golden chambers were built. Building activities must have been carried out also in the castle chapel as it was re-consecrated in 1576 by the then Prague archbishop Antonín Brus of Mohelnice.

Digits of the year 1577 which are chiselled out in the coping stone above the gate leading into the Ist courtyard give clear evidence that the eastern wing was either remodelled or added in the 1570\'s.

In the 1580\'s, the adaptations of the Ist courtyard in the Upper Castle were completed by Baldassare Maggi d\'Arogno and all roofs were levelled out to the same heighth. Reconstructions were carried out in several rooms as well and the windows were probably enlarged.

In the 1580\'s, the third story was added on above the Princess\' chambers, at the present known as the musicians\' rooms. If Václav Březan wrote that on the 1st January 1581, "...Princess (i.e. Anna Maria von Baden) was staying at Krumlov and moved into the new upper chambers...", it could not have meant a different place than the new Princess\' chambers (on the second floor above the ruler\'s chambers). These chambers are already mentioned together with the old Princess\' chambers (on the first floor next to the corridor with coats-of-arms) in the Český Krumlov Castle inventory from the year 1545. The inventories from the beginning of the 17th century provide clear information on the upper Princess\' chambers above the Princess\' chambers.

The lack of space restricted the Rosenberg ruler\'s plans on extension and decoration of the Český Krumlov residence. Because of the castle\'s location on the rock cliffs, further extensive constructions were impossible and the ruler focused on its reconstruction. His projects received a wider scope of attention in the area near the old Little Castle where the lower castle was founded. This will be mentioned later.

Unfortunately, it has to be observed that the rebuilding activities carried out by the Eggenbergs in 1680\'s and by the Schwarzenbergs at the beginning of the second half of the 18th century did not leave many interiors from the time of Wilhelm and Peter Wok von Rosenberg in their original appearance.

Let\'s take a look at what the Upper Castle consisted of at the end of the 16th century. The ground-floor and cellar rooms of the buildings situated around both courtyards of the Upper Castle were used for operating purposes. For example, in the western wing of the back courtyard below the place of what today is the Masquerade Hall, there was a new castle kitchen with a door, later bricked up, leading into the passage near the Jacket Bridge. Opposite this bricked-up door there is an entrance into the so-called Wenceslas\' cellar, where an old castle brewery was founded in its upper part in the second half of the 16th century. The ground-floor and cellar rooms between both courtyards were used as a place where precious objects and silverware were kept. Those cellars are called the Silver-house up till now. In place of what today is a large entrance door, opposite the Silver-house, there was a door leading into the castle bathroom called the bath or small bath - today\'s entrance hall. On the ground floor of the northern wing in the Ist courtyard, under the Heraldic room (at the present defunct), there was a new room for stable boys (in place of the so-called Capuchin corridor).

The first and the second floors of the Upper Castle were comprised of living and state chambers. The private chambers of the last Rosenberg rulers were situated on the first floor in the eastern wing near the front courtyard (IIIrd Courtyard of Český Krumlov Castle). Two rooms, nowadays known as the Rosenberg chambers, in which the original Renaissance mural painting was preserved (Wall Painting in the 3rd Renaissance Room of Český Krumlov Castle), served at that time as antechambers. Two spacious rooms in the most eastern part of that wing, rather asymmetrically located side by side and separated by a spiral staircase, served as the ruler\'s bedroom and chamber. Later on they were divided by separation walls into smaller rooms. An idea of the size of the rooms can be easily formed in the place itself .

The castle chapel in the southern wing was accessible from the corridor leading in front of the ruler\'s chambers. The chapel was connected with the adjacent Pelican room. This room could be also entered through the spiral staircase located in the southwest corner at the IIIrd courtyard to which led the door in existence up until now. Near the Pelican room was another smaller living room and closet. Those three rooms together with the spiral staircase were demolished in the 1680\'s and the place was built up with the lower part of the main castle staircase next to the chapel.

For a long time the designation of the Pelican room was not explained - according to our ancestors it was named after somebody of that name. Eventually, it was the castle inventory that provided an explanation. The walls of the room were decorated with textile wall coverings with designs of these exotic birds on it.

The ruler\'s chambers and the chapel could be also entered from the corridor along the defunct Heraldic room through which the Rosenberg chambers are accessible at the present time. The Heraldic room (nowadays it would be most probably called a hall) was built at the beginning of the 1560\'s in the northern part of the IIIrd courtyard of what at that time was an old defensive wall. The hall covered the first and the second floor of that castle wing, it was about 22 metres in length and almost 9 metres wide. The part between the ceiling and the upper round windows was adorned with paintings of large escutcheons after which it has its name. The walls of the Heraldic room were decorated with leather wall-coverings, the head of the room was dominated with the Rosenberg coat-of-arms that was wrapped in red-brown velvet and the damask of the golden colour. Two brass chandeliers were suspended from the ceiling.

There are two reasons why the Heraldic room was given such detailed attention; it is an example of the period interior of the state hall, but mainly because it does not exist anymore. The hall was remodelled in the years 1747-1748 and divided into two stories where several smaller rooms were built. At the level of what is today the second floor of the former Heraldic room, remnants of the escutcheon paintings with no preserved coats of arms can be seen.

The Corridor with the coats of arms (Corridor with the Rosenbergs\' Coats-of arms), could be entered from the Heraldic room. Its decorations copied the decoration of the hall. The corridor exists to the present time with two well-preserved and restored coats-of-arms of Wilhelm von Rosenberg, coats-of-arms of his first and second wives Kateřina Brunšvická and Žofie von Brandenberg, coats-of-arms of his four sisters and their husbands - Anna von Rosenberg and Jáchym of Hradec, Elisabeth von Rosenberg and Jindřich of Švamberg, Bohunka von Rosenberg and Johann Popel von Lobkowicz the younger, Eva von Rosenberg and Mikuláš Zrinský.

The staircase from the Corridor with coats-of-arms leads into another spacious castle hall, called simply the Palace during the rule of the last Rosenbergs. Nowadays, it is named the Hall of Mirrors. The Hall is situated on the first floor of the northern wing in the IVth courtyard. On the first floor level in the western wing is the former Green room, today\'s Masquerade Hall. The palace and the Green room were mentioned for the first time in the estate inventory of Peter V. von Rosenberg from 1545.

The Royal chamber, a large room with an exquisite bay window outlooking the courtyard and Vltava river, was located on the first floor of the southern wing in the IVth courtyard.

The so-called old Princess\' chambers mentioned for the first time in the above inventory from 1545 could be entered from the southern side of the Corridor with coats-of-arms.

On the second floor of the eastern wing near the Ist courtyard above the ruler\'s chambers were situated Princess\' chambers. Those chambers were accessible either through the staircase leading from the Heraldic room or through the old spiral staircase leading from the ruler\'s chambers and were walled off from the other rooms on the second floor level.

The spiral staircase led from the Pelican room into the two large Imperial chambers situated on the second floor. From the first one the oratory of the castle chapel could be entered. The second chamber connected other rooms on the second floor - the most important were Margraves\' rooms at the end of the southern wing near the IVth courtyard.

From the second Imperial chamber it was possible to pass along an old dining room into the northern and eastern part of the IVth courtyard where, apart from spacious room called "under the roof timbers above the Green room" that was later reconstructed and presently accommodates the art gallery, no interesting rooms were situated.

The buildings of the lower castle were constructed during 1577-1578 and thus connected the Upper Castle and Little Castle through today\'s Dairy, originally the front defensive and communication building used as a side entrance into the castle (the main entrance was at that time from the Cloak Bridge). In that old front castle part, farm buildings were originally situated. From the very beginning the new building was called buchhaltery ( Castle No.59 - New Burgrave\'s House), as it was set up for the use of an administrative office of the Rosenberg dominion. The ground-floor premises of the northern castle wing served for operational needs of the Rosenbergs\' officials. There were for example kitchen and stables. The bakery was situated in the adjoining Dairy (Castle No. 59 - Dairy) - its name has been used only since the 18th century. The first storey of the northern wing, at the present accommodating branch offices of the State District Archive, was divided into the officials\' studies and flats as well as the study of Václav Březan. The income authority had its seat in the shorter eastern wing on the ground floor while the buchhaltery or main accounting department was established on the first floor. At the present time it houses a castle library. The castle inventory from the first years of the 17th century mentioned the former "His Grace\'s chamber", in other words the study and office of the last two rulers, near the buchhaltery.

On the lower courtyard (IInd Courtyard of Český Krumlov Castle) stand the castle tower and Little Castle (Castle No. 59 - Little Castle, Castle No. 59 - Castle Tower). The Little Castle was most likely the first seat of the Krumlov Lords. In the 16th century it served as armoury and storage of farming tools; the granaries were in the attics. This part also became the subject of extensive building activities of the Český Krumlov Castle carried out during the 1570\'s and 1580\'s. It was especially the Little Castle\'s exterior appearance that was remodelled, as its facade was adorned in harmony with decoration of the new round tower with figures and other motifs by Bartoloměj Beránek (known as Jelínek).

The Český Krumlov castle tower was virtually the only building that remained almost unaltered after Wilhelm\'s building activities at the castle. The tower was rebuilt from an old round tower in the 1570\'s and 1580\'s and is an example of the Renaissance building art of Italian Master Baldassare Maggi. The new building must have been finished just before the year 1590 when Bartoloměj Jelínek decorated its facade. The period appearance of the tower and Little Castle is depicted in part of the portrait of Johann von Pernstein from 1591.

Two clock cymbalons, eyewitnesses of the final work done on the tower, have rested in the lantern of the castle tower for almost 400 years. The bigger one was cast in 1590 by Prague bellfounder Brikcí of Cinperk, while the Prachatice bellfounder Jakub Wolfart cast the small cymbalon in 1591.

The castle tower served as a lookout or observation post and as a jail in the lower part. The southern section of the IInd courtyard was not built up at that time.

Most buildings at the present day Ist Courtyard of Český Krumlov Castle stood as early as in the 16th century. This large area of the former front part of the castle served only farming purposes. Close by the moat where the bears are presently bred stood the Old Burgrave\'s House (Castle No. 58 - Old Burgrave\'s House) adjacent to the Little Castle. The building at the southern part was used as stables and granary, the house opposite served as granary as well. The castle brewery, founded in 1560, was situated slightly aside to the north. There were also stables and a small building used for slaughter.

A pond spread over the considerable part of today\'s Deer Garden In Český Krumlov. At that time, the main entrance into the Upper Castle was across the Cloak drawbridge. Behind the bridge were stables and various rooms for storage.

The present-day castle park still had not come into existence. It was the manorial park in Nové Město along Vltava river that functioned as an ornamental park where nobility rested (Historical Gardens and Parks in Český Krumlov). The park was founded in the 1560\'s nearby at the widow\'s residence of Anna von Rogendorf, the mother of the last Rosenbergs. At the turn of the 16th and the17th century it became part of the new armoury that was converted into the new royal brewery in 1625.

Though the park was situated completely outside the castle complex, it could be entered directly from the castle without going through the town\'s streets. There was a corridor (Connecting Corridor), leading from the Upper Castle through the attics of the Diary, buchhaltery, Little Castle, Old Burgrave\'s House, both granaries in the front part of the castle, St.Clara\'s cloister and minorites near Latrán to the manor house and park in Nové Město. The places where the buildings did not stand closely side by side were spanned with connecting arches. Nowadays the corridor is not passable but its remnants are still easily discernible.


Further information :
Castle No. 59 - New Burgrave´s House, restoration of renaissance mural paintings
Chateau No. 59 - Lower castle, restoration of renaissance mural paintings