Located along the trade routes running into Bohemia, the Český Krumlov Castle was built in the mid-13th century.

The castle is considered the second-largest castle complex in all of Central Europe, second only to the Prague Castle. Throughout its long life, the castle has had many owners belonging to some of the wealthiest families in Central Europe.

The castle was originally built in the Gothic style but has received multiple renovations by its many owners. Now, the castle boasts aspects of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture. One of the most stunning additions made to the castle was the Baroque Theatre. Built in the 17th century, the Baroque Theatre within the castle complex is one of the oldest and best-preserved Baroque theatres in Europe, potentially even the world.

The fervent patron of the arts, Prince Johann Christian I. von Eggenberg, completed some of the early Baroque renovations made to the castle. Unhappy with the existing performance spaces available, the Prince brought Italian architects to help him design a new space that was up to his standards. The Prince even had permanent musicians and actors that lived within the complex. They would perform the best works of the time from playwrights such as William Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, and Molière.

The theatre underwent many changes in the late 18th century by a new owner, Prince Josef Adam zu Schwarzenberg, who is mainly responsible for the Baroque renovations made to the castle. Along with making changes to the Masquerade Hall and Cloak Bridge, the Prince developed the Baroque theatre as it remains today. With the help of architect Andrea Altomonte, the Prince formed a theatre with cutting-edge technology. Another incredible patron of the arts, he brought in artists such as Hans Wetschel and Leo Markl to complete work on the theatre and set decorations.

After a long golden age for the theatre, it closed in 1898, only reopening for special occasions. It was not until 1997 that it became open to the public. The theatre still functions today, but only a few times a year for authentic Baroque performances. Otherwise, visitors can tour the historical site as a museum to view the stunning mechanisms and historical documents that remain from as early as the 17th century.

Featured image by VitVit via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Michaela Dehning
Czech-American art history major at Arizona State University who lives in Prague. Passions include history, art, and culture.
Michaela Dehning
Michaela Dehning