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2022-09-08

Velhartice Castle


Velhartice is a castle in the village of the same name in the district of Klatovy. It stands on a rocky promontory above the left bank of the Ostružná river at an altitude of 640 meters.The castle was built at the beginning of 14th century and is situated over the village of Velhartice. The founder of the fortress may have been Bušek of Velhartice, who built the castle palace and a  big wall. The huge prismatic tower, which was an advanced designed, was built next and this was connected to the old palace by a unique stone bridge. Menhart of Hradec, since 1436 the most important burgrave of Karlštejn, intended to reinforce the castle and keep the treasure of the crown jewels in it. The crown jewels had been taken there in the times of Menhart’s conflicts with George of Poděbrady.   Zdeněk Lev of Rožmitál owned  the castle after the family from Hradec. Later the imperial General Baltazar de Marradas won the castle and sold it to the well-known adventurer, Martin Hoeff Huert. He completely rebuilt the castle that had been damaged in the war. Later owners did not make many changes to the castle. The last owner was the family of Windischgrätz until 1945.


Velhartice Castle before the middle of the 17th century, by Milan Novobilský
 

The first construction phase of the castle typologically corresponded to castles with a shell wall. It was formed by a perimeter wall ending in battlements, which was preserved in the perimeter walls of the later buildings of the castle core. The internal construction of lighter construction was attached to the wall especially along its eastern part. In the eastern part of the castle stood a palace with an irregular floor plan and topped with a round tower. The castle was entered in the northeast corner. It is possible that even then the core was still protected on three sides by a fence wall.

In the thirties of the fourteenth century, a pillar with a wooden superstructure was built in the place of the Paradise House. The castle underwent more significant reconstruction after 1350. At that time, a palace called the Paradise House was built. Its masonry is directly connected to the older perimeter wall. The castle thus acquired the appearance of the then fashionable two-palace layout. According to dendrological data, the square Putna Tower and a brick bridge with four arches between them were probably built at the same time as the Paradise House. It is that even the pre-castle created in this way was somehow fortified.

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Putna Tower (Autor: Harold – Vlastní dílo, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33282246)

During the fifteenth century, the castle was significantly expanded with fortifications, which responded to the development of firearms during the Hussite Wars. The new forecourt was made accessible by a square gate tower, from which an irregular wall, strengthened by one gable and two semi-circular bastions, extends on both sides. The defense of the ramparts and bastions was made possible by a walkway with a covered shooting corridor. The Putna tower, which is turned in the direction of possible shelling by a reinforced wall without holes, also had an important role in the defense, and thus protects other buildings with its mass. The connecting bridge behind it was equipped with a passage accessible by drawbridges. New ramparts and bastions belong to the older variants of artillery fortifications.

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During the late Gothic reconstructions, the Rajský dům was raised and the second palace, which was extended by a square structure, was also modified. In the second half of the fifteenth century, a brewery building was built in the southwest corner. Behind him, the residential possibilities of the castle were expanded by a late Renaissance one-story wing inserted between the two older palaces. Arcades enable communication between individual rooms. The ground floor arcade corridor is a glass field cross vault. The farm buildings, which in addition to the brewery included a granary and a wine cellar, were preserved only in the form of the foundations of the perimeter walls. Of the operational facilities, a water supply system has been partially preserved on the slope below the brewery, which allowed water to be pumped from the river Ostružná.