Kozel Chateau is a treat for architectural buffs keen on Classicism or for anyone interested in seeing a unique chateau with an exterior of pure Classicism and an interior that is luxurious, showing off various styles. Kozel is truly an architectural wonder. The exterior features a rectangular courtyard surrounded by four wings, exuding symmetry and simplicity to form a beautiful structure.
No one knows why the chateau is called Kozel. The original name was German – Waldschloss or Jadgschloss bei Stiahlav. Kozel, meaning goat, is associated with the chateau only via legend: It is said that ancient Slavs used to sacrifice goats on the site.
Unlike many chateaus, Kozel did not start out as a castle that was transformed into a chateau during the Renaissance age. Kozel was built from 1784 to 1789. The owner, Jan Vojtěch Černín of Chudenice, a huntsman of the Czech kingdom for Emperor Joseph II, had it constructed as a hunting lodge. A few years later, the family adopted the chateau as their summer residence. There were some Classicist additions made in the 1790s by an expert in that form, architect Jan Nepomuk Palliardi. The chateau’s original style has been preserved to this day, which is another plus for sightseers.
The next owner was Černín’s grandnephew, Count Kristián Vincenc Valdštejn-Vartenberk. His family would retain the property until the chateau came into the hands of the state in 1945.
After perusing the exterior, entering the chateau may be a shock. The spaces are extravagantly decorated. Many objects on the tour are intriguing, to say the least. Near the beginning of the tour, tourists see a 16th century clock with only one hand – it hails from London. In another room, a Classicist commode dazzles with intarsia design, and a 16th century bureau in King Louis XVI style is decorated with mythological scenes. In the Dressing Room, a Renaissance jewel chest inlaid with ivory enthralls. In the Dining Room, you will see a Baroque black-and-gold thermometer.
The Blue Room is adorned in stunning Louis XVI style. A table designed with intarsia looks like a globe. It can serve as an embroidery table or desk. The Grey Room has a purely Biedermeier appearance. In that space, a portable embroidery table can be closed like a pocketbook. The Count’s Study boasts of Oriental items. The library has over 7,900 volumes from the beginning of the 16th century to 1840, and one of its most stunning acquisitions is the first edition of a French encyclopedia. Maps from the 17th century also make up a significant part of the collection. There is a theatre that was built as far back as the 1830s. Members of the owners’ families acted on its small, intimate stage.
Perhaps the most impressive feature of the interiors consist of wall paintings by Prague artist Antonín Turnova, who had been greatly influenced by Rococo landscape paintings and renditions of ancient ruins from that era. He painted the rooms at the end of the 18th century. In the Empire Drawing Room, the walls are elegantly decorated with paintings of vedutas of Italian spas. The entrance hall is another example of Turnova’s mastery. Illusive wall painting makes the room look like a winter garden complete with ivy on trellises. Turnova created such a brilliant effect by painting on dry lime plaster.
The Drawing Room for Social Occasions is another highlight, in part thanks to Turnova. His painting shows both Radyně Castle, now a castle ruin on the outskirts of Pilsen, and Kozel Chateau. Ancient ruins, always an inspiration for Turnova, appear in this rendition, too. Tourists will surely admire the walls of this space with stunning medallions that sport mythological themes. In the Music Chamber, which has been a room designated for music since its creation, the walls are adorned with musical instruments.
Turnova’s work can also be seen in the Chapel of the Holy Rood. Turnova created the painting on the altar of the vaulted space with a cupola. It shows the Crucifixion. Take a look at the Rococo organ.
White tiled stoves are also sprinkled through the interior. Only one room is without a charming tiled stove. The white stove in the Blue Room is especially ornate. The stoves give the chateau an extra sense of elegance.
Don’t forget to check out the lush park. Make sure you come here on a sunny day, so you can spend a few hours strolling through the park, a scenic delight that is perfect for long walks.
While it is possible to make this excursion as a day trip from Prague, I recommend spending a few days in Pilsen and doing a half-day jaunt to the chateau. Pilsen should not be missed. It is a west Bohemian marvel with its underground museum, Brewery Museum, Pilsner Urquell brewery and four apartments designed by modern architect Adolf Loos. There are also art galleries and a history museum of West Bohemia that deserve your attention. Neither Pilsen nor Kozel will disappoint.