Saturday, September 11, 2010

Veveří Castle (near Brno Lake)

Veveří Castle sits approx. 15km outside of Brno near Brno Lake. Our friend Jana lives near the lake, and we had a chance to visit her and her beautiful newborn baby over the past weekend (finally yay!). The weather was not so nice, but we decided to extend our daytrip to Veveří Castle, which was only 10 mins drive from her house. You could also take a boat across the lake, but again the weather was not too good and we also had a rental car, so we took with the option of driving up there.

The castle stands sturdily on top of the hill by the river Svratka which runs into Lake Brno.  It is surrounded by forests, and I could just feel the richness of the location and castle back in the time when it was used by the noble family members during hunting season.

It says that the castle was probably built around the second half of the 12th century originally. Since then, different people owned it and thus changed its formation throughout the years. The so-called Keep, the tallest and oldest of the towers of Veveří Castle which was built as the primary defence element of the oldest building stage of the castle, is the only structure which has remained preserved from the oldest building stage of the 13th century. 

As you will notice immediately after going into the castle, the castle has been going through a major reconstruction. The castle was heavily damaged during WWII. Also during the years 1953 to 1972, the castle was turned into a foresters' apprentice center, which damaged it yet more. Furthermore, it seems that there was an attempt to turn the castle into an international student center by a Brno university in the late 70's (hmmm... wouldn't it be a bit of an isolated place for the international students to be?....).  Indeed, inside the castle is devastatingly damaged. I would have to imagine it will take several more decades to complete the renovation.

The castle is open to the public daily from 9am to 6pm except for Mondays during the months of May to September. It is only open over the weekends and bank holidays from 9am to 5pm during the months of April and October. The rest of the year it is closed.

There are tours going around one of the buildings (so-called "palace with keep") on the weekends. The tour is only provided in Czech, but you can get a booklet with English explanations. It must had been a great castle when it was being lived in and used.  The walls are very thick (one of the rooms had more than 2-meter thick walls!).  The view from the so-called "romantic observation terrace" was magnificent.  It is unfortunate that the castle was destroyed to the extent that the inside is still not yet at a presentable level.  Hopefully they will at leat finish the reconstruction of the palace with keep quickly.

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