Sunday, July 8, 2012

Classic Castles # 5 - Červená Lhota, Czech Republic

This picturesque Renaissance chateau stands on a rocky outcrop in the middle of a small lake in South Bohemia, about 100 kilometres south of Prague. The bright red colour of its exterior is directly reflected in the name of the castle, since the word 'červená' means 'red'. A small garden is found in front of the chateau on the island, and the lake is surrounded by a park with walking trails which provide excellent views of the castle from every angle.
The castle was first constructed in the Gothic style in the 14th century, and at that time there was no lake surrounding it, merely a river. In the 16th century a dam was constructed in the river which created the lake and left the castle perched on its island outcrop, increasing its defensive capabilities and romantic appeal.
The castle became known as Červena Lhota in the 17th century, when the facade was painted bright red and red tiles were placed on the roof. The stone bridge which connects the castle to the mainland was built in 1622, replacing the drawbridge which had been in use up to that point.
Towards the end of the 18th century the German composer Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf (a close friend of Mozart) lived in the castle and died there in 1799. A major renovation in the early 1900's changed the appearance of the castle to its present Neo-Renaissance style. At the end of World War II, the castle's Austrian owners were expelled and the property was confiscated by the Czechoslovak government. In 1949 the castle was opened to the public as a cultural monument.
The castle is quite difficult to reach by public transport, with limited bus connections making it possible to visit only on weekdays. Buses from Soběslav take about 30 minutes and will drop you 100 metres from the lake and the castle. Soběslav is on the main rail line between Prague and České Budějovice, with frequent train connections to both cities. The historic town of Jindřichův Hradec is found to the south-east of the castle, but there are no regular public transport connections from there to Červená Lhota.
Like most attractions outside major cities in the Czech Republic, the castle is closed from November to March and is only open on weekends in April and October. From May to September it is open daily except Mondays. Tours of the castle interior last 50 minutes and take in rooms which are brightly decorated in historical styles.
A large restaurant is located directly across the stone bridge from the castle, offering all the typical Czech traditional dishes. During the summer months renting a rowboat and going out on the lake is a relaxing way to spend an hour or two. Horse and carriage rides are also a popular attraction in the park and castle grounds.

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