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2019-06-01

Házmburk Castle

Hazmburk (German: Hasenburg, literally "Hare Castle") is a mountain peak in the České Středohoří range found in the Czech Republic, near the town of Libochovice. At the top of the mountain there is the ruin of a mediaeval castle, of which two towers and some wall fragments are still standing. A smaller first castle was already built there in the late 13th century by the Lichtenburg noble family. Later, the site was home to the Zajíc family: in 1335, Zbyněk Zajíc, a powerful aristocrat during the times of Charles IV., purchased it, and made it the center of his estates. In Czech, the word zajíc means hare, so the name of castle and hill is a mediaeval play on the name of its most prominent owners, who even had hares in their coat of arms. Zbyněk Zajíc considerably enlarged and extended the castle, and in particular added the two prominent towers which survive to this day.

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The castle was never taken by force, despite multiple siege attempts during the Hussite wars. After these wars, it apparently fell into disuse and gradually was reduced to a ruin: records from the year 1586 already describe it as desolate. During the period of romanticism, the ruins became a source of inspiration for writers, most notably K. H. Mácha.

Close-up of the taller of the two remaining towers of the Hazmburk, which has an observation deck on top. The basalt structure of the underlying rock can be clearly seen.

The castle site is open to the public in summer, and can be either accessed from the nearby village of Klapý, or from the train stop Slatina pod Hazmburkem. The taller of the two towers features an observation deck, and the view of the surrounding countryside that can be had from there is quite spectacular. The other tower is, while also in reasonable condition, not accessible to the public.

official text NPÚ:

The castle of Klapý was founded on a high isolated hill in the Central Bohemian mountains during the second half of the 13th century by either the king or the lords of Lichtenburg.

In 1335, when it is first recorded, King John of Luxembourg sold it to Zbyněk Zajíc of Valdek, who changed its name to reflect the hares in his coat of arms (Hasenburg).

The castle has a bipartite layout; however the mutual chronological connection of both parts is not clear. The lower castle is dominated by a round Black Tower, while the upper castle has a polygonal White Tower, situated inside the oval created by the chemise walls, adjacent to which are three buildings. The biggest and oldest of these was on the southern side; a more recent outer bailey was evidently situated under the parkán (outer ward) wall on the western side.

The southern and northern buildings in the upper castle developed at the same time as the White tower was enhanced under Zbyněk Zajíc.

In the first third of the 15th century the fortified town of Podhradín, with a church, grew up under the castle; however it was soon destroyed.

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During the Hussite wars Házmburk was used as a base by Sigismund of Luxembourg.

During the later part of the 16th century it was abandoned.

In the second half of the 19th century the Romantic ruin of the castle became a much sought after subject for painters.

The first work to stabilise it was launched at the end of the 19th century.