The Švihov Castle is a late medieval castle located
in western Bohemia, Czech Republic. It was the seat of the lords of Rýžemberk and it was built
Švihov Castle History
At the beginning of the 14th century a new moated fort was built at
river level on the main road, at the same time as the so-called upper town of
Švihov with its regular oblong square and parish church of St
At its southern edge the so-called lower town developed with the
hospital church of St John the Evangelist.
After 1480 Půta Švihov of Rýžemberk (reg
1479–1504) built a new moated castle on the site of the fort, which had been damaged during the
It was founded on an artificial island protected to the east by the
Úhlava and to the north and west by a mill-race, which also separated it from the upper and
The concentric arrangement of the castle combines two architectural
concepts (Menclová): the older Bohemian type of living-quarters and church, with four
The core of the castle consists of north and south
blocks, which, with the connecting walls, form a regular inner court. Next to the east curtain
wall is the chapel, a separate, single-cell building.
This residential core was surrounded by a moated fortification wall,
strengthened at the corners by circular bastions. A second chapel projects across the east
curtain, its polygonal apse extending into the moat level with the bastions.
To the west was a tall, square entrance tower. Above the entrance a
stone tablet, which once bore the title and arms of the owner, has been set in a sculptured
frame. A drawbridge connected the living-quarters to the tower.
The inner core was encircled by an outer ring of moated
fortifications. Access was at the northern side through a large square tower with a drawbridge,
and the western section was strengthened by two square and two circular bastions.
The eastern section was demolished in the mid-17th century, but
research carried out in 1951 established that it had broad round bastions open to the court and
equipped with embrasures with a revolving drum, a device used at Prague Castle by Benedikt Ried.
Apart from minor repairs the interior of the Švihov castle has been
preserved in its original form. The north range had a ground floor and above it a hall rising
through two storeys; these had wooden ceilings. From the first floor a wooden gallery led to
the star-vaulted chapel.
The south range had three vaulted rooms on the ground floor, and on
the first floor a twin-aisled hall with groin vaults supported on octagonal columns. During the
time of Půta Švihov the north range was given groin vaults by Benedikt Ried.
At the death of Půta Švihov in July 1504 the estate passed to his two
sons, Václav (d 1510) and Jindřich, who the following year divided the Svihov castle between
them, the north palace going to Václav and the south to Jindřich.
The chapel and entrance tower were held in common. Joint maintenance
of the castle involved changes to the original design: a narrow staircase wing joining the two
palaces was added to the western side of the court. The large twin-aisled hall on the first
floor of the north block was divided into three parts.
The entrance tower was also altered and in the western part of the
moat was built a new residential wing, of which only the foundations and traces of paintings in
the moat wall have survived. The so-called Red Bastion was next to it to the north-west, with
frescoes depicting scenes from contemporary tournaments on its walls.
The artist also painted the fresco of St George and the Dragon on the
north wall of St Mary’s chapel: Jindřich Švihov and his wife, Princess Voršila Münsterbská, are
depicted as St George and the princess. Their arms have been preserved on the parapet of the
Behind the figure of St George, Švihov Castle is depicted at its
apogee in the second decade of the 16th century. The fresco is one of the earliest to give a
realistic rendering of the Bohemian landscape.
Of the original decoration of the chapel there survive sculptured
busts of four Church Fathers, dated c.1500, and richly moulded embrasures.
In 1548 the Švihov castle passed into
the hands of Herald Kavka of Řičany, who made some alterations; in the 18th century granaries
were built in the palatial buildings and by 1860 the castle had been abandoned. Systematic
restoration has continued since 1952.
Švihov - Visitor
Švihov castle is
located in Švihov, 120 km west of Prague and 33 km south of Plzen. The castle is closed for
visits on Mondays. In other days the castle opens its gates at 10 AM.