Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hrad Hukvaldy

Fortification: Hukvaldy Castle
Location: Hukvaldy, Czech Republic
Built: 13th century (Approximately 1240)
Remaining original structures: See information on detailed map, below. A fire in 1762 destroyed the castle, which was already in disrepair, but it has since been renovated.

Hukvaldy is the third largest castle in the Czech Republic and it is quite impressive (so this will be a long tour- please get your tea and get cozy). The castle, like the Acropolis I saw earlier, lies along the Amber Road.

Hukvaldy is set on the top of a hill and surrounded by lovely parkland with many old trees.

And some old, old trees, which are wisely not cleared away since they provide a niche for wildlife.

Climbing up the winding trail, the hill became steeper and steeper. I'm not in shape for hills so I took lots of pics as an excuse to stop and catch my breath.

 And steeper:

 And steeper, but now I'm near the top, hurrah!

And finally, huffing and puffing despite the stops, I reached the front/main gate:

If you'll forgive me one more scenery shot (from ground level), this is the view from a broad overlook to the left of the gate:

Near the front gate is an overhead depiction of the castle. Writing on the sign mentioned that the castle had never been taken. Still recovering from the climb, I thought "No S***!" ;)

I was fortunate enough to get two maps in English. First, the simpler one:

I have no idea where 9 is. I swear I found it while standing before the original map, after some hunting... I can tell you that the double square bit above IV is a well.

And now, just about everything you'd wish to know about the castle design:

Some of the translation needed a little editing, but not bad at all. It's a lovely map, and I'm glad they were selling it in English.

Please note North on that map (see left column)

I'm going to suggest you orient yourself with the complex map, and open the simple map in a new window for reference as we move through the tour.

So, finally, stepping through the first gate, we see the second gate and the bastion:

(Try as I might to keep tourists out of my shots, or at least have them in the shadows, sometimes it just doesn't happen.)

To the right:

We have the Kulatina fortification which was built around 1486, but never completed.

Next we head through the second gate and I stepped off the path for this shot:

Turning around, back to the second gate, we see the locals coming by:

There was a presentation and tour later in the day, which was quite good, but in Czech, of course. I understood a little though.

So the next shot is mostly to give you an idea of terrain. To the left, the hill is pretty steep, but the path goes forward and around and at a steady climb to the Kulatina fortification, which we will get to briefly at the end of the tour.

Continuing along the outer bailey (between the second and third gate), we have a section of the north wall:

Getting back on the main path, we have the third gate and more locals:

Doing a 180 and shooting back across the outer bailey we see the church and more tourists (I wait and wait for them to clear out, but they never do so all at once ;) ).

Here is an interior shot of the church:

Between the third and fourth gates is a comparatively small area. The south side was where the dogs were kept:

Behind me (I didn't upload the photo) is a similar (larger) ditch that served as the cemetery, and some more fortifications. The cemetery was small and after they buried a group of people and put dirt over them, they buried more on top of them.

Passing through the fourth gate we have the fifth gate soon after, but this is the bastion to the left of it:

And looking left, we have a broader ditch:

If you look almost center, in the above picture, there is a little alcove (not dead center, where there's a door, but to the left of that). That's where I stood for the following video which shows the layout a bit better. You can see the bridge, which was once wooden so it could be burnt when invaders came.

Passing through the fifth gate, we are greeted with this site:

That's the palace to the left and the white tower. This tower served as a kitchen and had a cellar for wine and food. It is plastered to show how the entire castle once looked (aside from the missing roof of course!). That's one thing I learned on this trip: Plaster doesn't last. Really thick walls do pretty well, unless demolished.

Heading to the back, through a relatively narrow passage (not pictured) and around the old palace, we have this:

That picture is facing northeast.

In the same area, we have the well, now covered:

It was built in 1581 and 150 or 170m deep and called bottomless. It had a mechanism to draw water that was destroyed in a fire and not rebuilt.

Looking back to the palace, we have this shot:

And exploring further we have:

(That's the well on the right)

The stairs lead to this lovely view:

So, heading back out of this area, with the palace just visible on the right:

We have the fifth gate with the palace on the right, as seen from inside the white tower:

As noted on the large map, this 6th gate into the palace is only for pedestrians.

I have a nice video of the inner courtyard, but it won't upload, so here are some photos, starting with the southeast wall:

The stairs in the corner lead into the white tower and a large room. As you can see, the windows were quite large here.

This shot is looking across the courtyard from the circular tower.

Looking southwest from one of the castle rooms:

And south:

The next picture is taken from the top of the circular tower (still in the old castle), and shows the rest of Hukvaldy sprawling out down the hill. The entire castle is 800 meters long.

If you look closely down the center (a hair left of center) between the paired tall trees, you may be able to make out the Kulatina fortification from the start of the tour. It is hard to tell at this image size, but you can see the level stretch of wall.

Next, some interior shots of the tower:

These are supports for the old floor. Now there's a staircase that wraps around.

And an interior shot of the north side of the castle, where I could look but not walk (this is near the scaffolding where they are doing repairs):

That's just a small section and it is pretty massive, no?

Heading back out and down the hill, we have the third gate again (I do love arches):

Lastly, the Kulatina fortification. It is now a concert hall inside, so I will skip the interior shot and leave you with another overview of Hukvaldy.

That's the fourth gate, top center. The third gate is hidden in the trees below it. The circular tower can just be seen to the left of the fourth gate.

I hope you enjoyed this tour. For further pictures, you can see the fotogalerie at the official site. There is information available there about the castle, in English.

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