Connecting Corridor

(Between the Minorite Monastery and the Historical Parks)

Český Krumlov, connecting corridor, the first part which goes from the Summer Horse, foto: Lubor Mrázek

During the reign of Wilhelm von Rosenberg there was a unique system of covered bridges and corridors. The Castle was connected with the Minorite Monastery and the Saint Claire Order Convent with the former seat of Anna Rosenberg von Rogendorf, a widow, located on the site of the present Eggenberg Brewery and its Renaissance garden with aviaries and an ornamental park. The entire mentioned corridor complex, under the Krumlov Castle roofs and the roofs of contiguous houses, has been mostly preserved up to the present.

Český Krumlov, connecting corridor, connection between The Castle Garden and Renaisance House – north facade, foto: Pavel Slavko

Later, in the Baroque époque, huge bridges appeared even on the completely other side of the Castle Complex, this time covered by wood. They enabled the lords of Eggenberg comfortable access to the (Castle Theater) and the Upper ornamental Castle Park (Castle Gardens in Český Krumlov). The total length of covered route, between both former destinations in the Parks, is almost 900 meters. When we add the differences of heights and the fact that the Corridor between the Masquerade Hall of the Castle and the Castle Theater has three floors, it reaches nearly one entire kilometer.

Český Krumlov, connecting corridor, connection between The Castle Garden ans Renaisance House – south facade, foto: Lubor Mrázek

This is more than a respectable distance, particularly when we consider that the longest dimension of the original mediaeval Krumlov town was in fortifications, on the other side of the river Vltava, a length of approximately 420 m. Here is another comparison - the famous Vasari corridor in Florence, constructed in the year 1565 to connect the Vecchio palace with the Boboli Park and the Pitti palace, runs a length of 500 meters. That one likely served as inspiration or even as a model of the progressive project of the Lords of the Rose.

The bizarre construction of bridges connecting the respective structures can not miss the attention of Český Krumlov visitors. Let us now take an imaginary stroll through the extraordinary route via attics of houses, wooden and stone bridges, from one Park to another.

Český Krumlov Castle, Connecting Corridor, fire door, foto: Lubor Mrázek Český Krumlov Castle, Connecting Corridor, fire door, foto: Lubor Mrázek Český Krumlov Castle, Connecting Corridor, fire door, foto: Lubor Mrázek Český Krumlov Castle, Connecting Corridor, fire door, foto: Lubor Mrázek Český Krumlov Castle, Connecting Corridor, fire door, foto: Lubor Mrázek

Český Krumlov Castle, Connecting Corridor, fire door, foto: Lubor Mrázek

The corridor entrance is located on the second lower route of the Upper Castle Park (Castle Gardens in Český Krumlov). We then continue across the covered wooden bridge resting on huge stone pillars. Its windows open up impressive views on both sides. Behind the road leading up a crag, the entire construction disappears into the attic area of the Castle Theater buildings, where it goes through without changing direction. The next bridge - Cloak Bridge, this time with several floors, boldly crosses the craggy ravine, enlarged and artificially deepened.

Český Krumlov, Cloak Bridge and an interiors of each of the corridors, mounting, foto: Lubor Mrázek

It used to serve as a defense of the Castle and later of the remodelled Castle. Another corridor, a few meters below us, connects the Masquerade Hall directly with the royal box of the Castle Theater auditorium. But back to our own corridor - we enter straight onto the top floor of the Castle and into the gallery above the Masquerade Hall. Passing through the former Upper Castle, which through constant remodelling completely surrounds the area of the two Upper Courtyards, is already like passing through a labyrinth in itself.

Český Krumlov Castle, interior of the lower corridor between the Masquerade Hall and The Baroque Theatre, foto: Lubor Mrázek Český Krumlov Castle, interior of the technical  intermediate floor of the Cloack Bridge, foto: Lubor Mrázek Český Krumlov Castle, Connecting Corridor, interior of upper part of section between Castle Theatre and Upper Castle, 2001, foto: Lubor Mrázek

We reach a significant continuation of our Corridor at the attic of the Renaissance Dairy (Castle No. 59 - Dairy), originally the mediaeval staircase tower, enabling access to the Castle from the eastern cardinal point. From there, the short high corridor of strutting construction approaches its destination through the attic space of the Lower Castle, constructed in the year 1578 by Baldassare Maggi d´Arogno, a master, for the purpose of the New Burgrave´s House with the Castle Library (Castle No. 59 - New Burgrave´s House). We now go across the open space under the roof onto the plank footbridges, then turn right in the near right corner.

Castle no. 59 - Dairy, rear section from northern side In the Castle wing, under our present location, there is just a gate between the Ist and IInd Castle Courtyard. The continuation of the Corridor, via the oldest part of the Castle called the Little Castle (Castle No. 59 - Little Castle), has been disconnected since 1910. Both buildings are nevertheless united by a small narrow connecting neck. The covered Corridor then continues gracefully around the cylindrical tower of the Gothic Little Castle and strides over the (Bear Moat) via an arch made from huge masonry. Following is the attic of the Old Burgrave´s House (Castle No. 58 - Old Burgrave´s House) with its high Gothic style roof timbers and fragments of the inserted Corridor. The arch over a narrow lane above the Castle staircase used to support the Corridor with windows on both sides only 120 years ago, as is evidenced by photographs of that time from the Krumlov Museum. The connecting building of the former Stables, (Castle No. 232 - Stables), is next on our journey. It connects a one-floor passageway wing with the back part of a burgher house Castle No. 46 - New Pharmacy with its entrance already oriented towards Latrán street. From its attic we now enter into a little Corridor above the Red Gate, a significant place in that it marks the end of the noble residence and the beginning of the bustling streets of a medieval town. The opening which led to the facility of a former seigniorial granary with a Salt-house (see Castle No. 57 - Salt-house) has been walled up as has the passage from the granary to other middle class edifices. We know that the mentioned building was the property of Hanuš Robenhaupt, a Rosenberg master diamond cutter at the end of the 16th century. In 1610, a fire broke out somewhere here and the covered corridors and balconies were to blame for its quick expansion. From that time the Connecting Corridors were gradually equipped with fire control brick walls and the doors mounted with metal fittings or walled up completely. The high arch of the bridge passes here above the largest street, Latrán. Its southern wall still bears the painted coat-of-arms of Wilhelm von Rosenberg and his third spouse Anna Marie, neé von Baaden. The oblong edifice behind the bridge used to be a part of the former economic facility of the Minorite Monastery. Its modernized roof with turned gutters remains the last major obstacle on our route before the access to the Minorite Church of Corpus Christi. The continuation of the Corridor from the Church via the house of Anna von Rogendorf and the New City Castle Park already existed in the 16th century, according to a note about a destructive fire dated 1610. Its appearance however remains unknown due to many later reconstructions. The Park itself had already spread into smaller parts at the end of the 18th century, although the area was not developed until presently.

Český Krumlov Castle, Connecting Corridor, section at the Bear Moat on the 1st Castle courtyard Český Krumlov Castle, Connecting Corridor, section at the Bear Moat on the 1st Castle courtyard, interior, 2001, foto: Lubor Mrázek

The remarkable system of Connecting Corridors offered the Castle residents the possiblity of free movement among the important places of the Castle\'s nearby surroundings. It is evident now that it was not just for personal safety or protection against inconvenient weather; we can notice even now that the area of both of the Lower Castle Courtyards particularly served various practical purposes. Likewise, we should not harbor any illusions about the cleanliness of Latrán streets at the turn of the Mediaeval and New Age period.

Covered connecting corridor above Latrán Street, section between Castle no.  56 and Latrán no.  50, Minorite monastery, view from the town Český Krumlov, foto: Ladislav Pouzar The promenade through the roofs, accented by wonderful views onto the historical town, has its own unique charm even after the passing of many centuries. Consider in comparison the glass lifts riding up the walls of skyscrapers in larger cities to the height of hundreds of meters. The considered return of the Corridors\' operation would one way to reclaim the life, indeed even the lost sense of extraordinary construction, of this monument.