Pernštejn Castle is located in Moravia, Czech
Republic, 25 km north-west of Brno.
It was the seat of the Pernštejn family, who at the beginning of the
13th century acquired extensive lands in the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands, where they built
numerous castles and founded a family monastery at Doubravník.
The Pernštejn Castle was first
mentioned in 1285; it was positioned on a rocky hill at the end of a long, wooded headland.
Protected by steep slopes on three sides, it was accessible only from the north. The tower
faced the anticipated direction of attack and stood behind a protective gabled wall, beneath
which was a gate with a drawbridge leading across a moat.
The remaining curtain wall was thinner and characterized by visible
outer projections. Leading from the cylindrical tower, now six-storey, there was probably a
wooden gallery to the first floor of the adjoining domestic wing on the protected south-west
side. The ground floor seems to have had three adjacent rooms, although only the outer walls
and a pointed, bricked-up portal survive. A deep well is cut in the rock outside the east
The surviving portion of Pernštejn Castle was built
during the second half of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th . Its rubble walls are
faced with stucco, with doors and windows of white marble.
Reconstruction was begun after fire damage in 1457 by Jan of Pernštejn
(d 1475), High Chamberlain and Regent of Moravia, and his sons. Jan built a residential wing
over the gable wall, the rooms being accessible from the vaulted corridor of the old rampart.
The room on the second floor of the south-east corner has a rib vault with pear-shaped ribs
springing from massive pyramidal corbels.
The vault of the former chapel on the same floor has a keystone
bearing the emblem of Jan’s wife, Bohunka of Lomnice. Jan’s son Vratislav (d 1496) completed
the alterations of the residential quarter above the gable end, where he built a vaulted bay
window embellished with the arms of his wife, Ludmila of Kunštát. The floors were linked by
spiral staircases at the north and south sides. The old building seems to have been extended at
this time towards the west, with vaulted cellars divided by transverse walls.
Pernstejn Castle underwent its most
comprehensive changes when it was held by Vratislav’s brotherVilém (1435–1521), High Steward of
Bohemia, a man distinguished for his learning, tolerance and advanced views on
He was wealthy enough to rebuild all his castles, and he contributed
particularly to the development of military architecture, as shown by the fortification
ofKunětická Hora, and the castles of Pardubice and Pernštejn. He surrounded the earlier
buildings of Pernštejn with ramparts, reinforced with three towers at strategic
The most up-to-date fortifications were those built across the ridge
of the headland: their most effective defensive element was the barbican with two levels of
loopholes and a narrow corridor to protect the outpost tower. While these fortifications were
being built restoration work was also under way inside the residential quarters of
the Pernštejn Castle.
The date 1518 is given on Vilém’s coat of arms in the bay window. The
ground floor was provided with reticulated honeycomb vaulting (the same as in Kunětická Hora),
and on the first floor there was a portal with intersecting mouldings, whose jambs rose from
twisted plinths. These, with the honeycomb vault, indicate a stylistic link to
There is also Renaissance influence at Pernštejn:
rectangular doorways with thresholds cut from huge slabs of white Nedvědice marble. They are
particularly prevalent in the south-west wing, supposed to have been completed by Vilém’s son
Jan, who owned the castle until 1548.
In 1596 the Pernštejn Castle
was sold, and its heyday came to an end. In 1604 it was bought by Adam Lev Licek of Rýzmburk;
in 1625 it became the property of the Lichtensteins, and in 1828 it passed to the Mitrovský
family of Mitrovice, who owned it until 1945.
Of the later work the stucco decoration
executed after 1700 in what is now called the Knights’ Hall is notable. The castle was restored
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