Zvikov Castle is located in the southern part of
Czech Republic. It was the private seat of Vaclav I ( between1230–1253) and Přemysl Ottokar
II. First mentioned in 1234, the Zvikov
Castle was founded at a strategically important position above the confluence of
the Vltava and Otava rivers.
To the east and west the headland is protected by abrupt cliffs, with the
Otava on the north side. The oldest part of the castle is the great square tower built of
rusticated ashlar masonry typical of Hohenstaufen architecture. It faces the south end of the
headland and is protected by a moat.
On the ground floor it had a single rib-vaulted bay, the ribs descending to
pyramidal consoles. The square wall-ribs and the vault webs are of brick with surviving
impressions of the original wooden centering. The space was lit by two arrow-slits and was
accessible through a passageway with two doorways with pointed arches.
The living-room on the first floor had groin vaults supported by corbels on
a string course. There were further rooms to the east and west of the tower. The south range
retains its early form, with two rib-vaulted rooms on the ground floor and an asymmetrical
wooden-roofed entrance hall leading from the courtyard, giving access to the ground floor of
the tower and to two rooms of the palace.
The resemblance of the tower vault mouldings to those in the Cistercian
abbeys at Zwettl and Lilienfeld indicate that the first masons’ workshop in Zvíkov came from
the Danube area of what is now Austria.
About 1250, when Hirzo, a member of the court, became castle burgrave,
the the Zvikov Castle was radically altered and renamed
Klingenberg. Construction was taken over by a new workshop from the Danube region, which built
four ranges of living-quarters around an internal courtyard with an arcaded gallery, a new type
of ground-plan first used for the royal castle at Plzeň. Fundamental alterations were made both
to the plan and to the rooms of the castle.
The main change was to the function of the great hall, which ceased to
be the main living area, since each range now had three rooms: a central, two-bay, vaulted hall
linked to a panelled room on one side and a room with a fireplace on the other. This
arrangement was supplemented by further rooms as and when required. The best preserved of the
new living units is in the west range, the ground floor of which includes a blind-arcaded
entrance and passageway.
The first floor has a central two-bay vaulted hall with an adjacent
room, and three windows above the passageway grouped in pyramid form. The original fireplace
survives on the wall adjoining the great tower. The rooms in the north range were similar, but
the east range had a great hall with six bays of vaults resting on two central octagonal piers.
As at Plzeň, the individual ranges of the castle were linked by arcaded galleries, which
remained untouched until the restorations of 1840–1844 and 1881–1885.
The last and artistically richest building in the residential part of
the castle is the chapel of St Wenceslas , which was built on the first floor of the south
range, with a door in the west wall. The chapel is a single-cell building with two bays of
The walls are divided horizontally by the deep window-ledge into a
lower level of blind arcading running round the entire building, the capitals decorated with
naturalistic leaves or berries, and an upper level that harmonizes with the High Gothic
clustered vaulting shafts, which are corbelled in to the window-sills.
The west end of the chapel is occupied by the royal tribune, with
three bays of vaulting resting on moulded capitals and octagonal piers. The two-light windows
have a trilobe pattern of tracery. Attached to the north side of the chapel is the sacristy,
dedicated to the Virgin. It has two bays of rib-vaulting, the transverse arch resting on
corbels carved with human heads.
The chapel retains its original altar; the walls were frescoed, and
the windows were filled with stained glass (destr.). The floors of both chapel and sacristy
were covered in glazed tiles with heraldic figures and inscriptions in German in praise of
Ottokar II. It is presumably he who is depicted as donor on the tympanum of the west portal, at
the centre of which is a seated Virginflanked by angels.
chapel, which must have been finished by 1263 when Hirzo was recalled to found the town of
České Budějovice, is evidently the work of a local team that had absorbed the French High
Gothic styles introduced through Cistercian architecture.
a new fortified curtain wall was built, and the southern neck of the headland was reinforced by
a gate-tower with a cylindrical tower à bec, its sharp edge aimed in the direction of presumed
attack, as at Pernštejn
To get information about visiting hours and
admissions visit the official website at http://www.hrad-zvikov.eu/info-for-visitors/
Address: Zvíkovské Podhradí, 397 01 Písek Czech Republic. Use this map to get
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