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leby Chateau: A Bohemian Marvel

Žleby Chateau is perhaps Bohemia’s most underrated sight. While tourists flock to Karlštejn Castle and Konopiště Chateau near Prague, they often overlook Žleby, which has a romantic exterior and a stunning interior filled with exquisite leather wallpaper, splendid furnishings, historic weapons and decorated tiled stoves, for instance. However, public transportation is a problem. I had to change trains to get there, though it is best to go by car.

The history of Žleby Chateau dates back to 1289, but during the Hussite Wars of the 15th century, the castle was destroyed. Thanks to Jiří from Dubé and Vizmburk, it was rebuilt in Late Gothic splendor. Later, at the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th centuries, it took on a Renaissance appearance and gained an arcaded courtyard. Baroque elements were added in the 18th century.

During that century the Auerspergs would take control of the chateau, and they would keep the property for some 200 years. Under their guidance, the exterior become even more Baroque while the interior flaunted Rococo furnishings and decorations. More romantic features were added in the 1840s. The stunning park was created during the 19th century. The Auersperg clan died out in 1942. After World War II the state took control of Žleby.

In front of the chateau stands a captivating fountain from 1869 with sculptural decoration depicting an Auersperg fighting a bison. The Neo-Gothic chapel hails from the 19th century and features exquisite stained glass windows. The oldest artifact in the chateau is located in the chapel, too. It is a 15th century baptismal font.

The chateau boasts an impressive collection of weapons. On a wall leading up to the first floor, a white ivory horn is displayed. It was used by Polish King Jan III. Sobiesky, who played a major role in freeing Vienna from the Turks during 1683.

The Knights’ Hall shows off 14 suits of armor from the 16th century. Exquisite painted glass pictures, 188 in total, adorn one wall. Forged between 1503 and 1749, they depict allegorical figures, biblical themes and coats-of-arms. A bedroom features a colorful 15th century triptych and a large Baroque bed. This is just one of the many rooms adorned with astounding leather wallpaper. In this space it is gold-colored, decorated with flowers and golden grapes. The Prince’s Study has velvet leather wallpaper in a dark blue hue with floral motifs.

The Travel Room has some intriguing features. A bed can be folded to look like a closet boasting intarsia decoration. The leather wallpaper portraying birds and flowers in the Rococo Salon is a delight as well. In that room a tapestry showing an idyllic landscape amazes. Next is the Small’s Men Study, in which the royal blue leather wallpaper is decorated with brown swirls.

In the Thirty Year’s War Room, visitors can marvel at the Late Gothic carved wood paneling adorned with designs cut into the wood. The library is another sight to behold; it holds 6,000 books and 6,000 engravings. The leather wallpaper in the Gallery was created from 72 deer. The coronation sword of Emperor Ferdinand I is one of the highlights in this room. The wallpaper in the Red Room astounds with a celebration of gold and red colors. Hovering cherubs decorate a painting on the coffered ceiling. Biblical scenes are depicted on a Late Renaissance tiled stove.

This is not the only tiled stove to be admired, though. Another breathtaking tiled stove rendering mythological scenes is located in the Tyrol Room. The biggest tiled stove is situated in the Blue Salon and features scenes from a grape harvest in Bavaria. In that room a Spanish-Moorish bureau from the 17th century also makes a lasting impression.

The Knights’ Dining Room is the largest space in the chateau. Hand-painted goblets decorate the space as hunting trophies and swords adorn the walls. The kitchen boasts blue-and-white English porcelain.

Touring Žleby Chateau is a rewarding experience for tourists staying in Prague for more than a few days. The interior is just as dazzling as the majestic exterior. The variety of leather wallpaper is probably the most intriguing feature on the tour that bewitches with its stunning artifacts and furnishings.


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A resident of Prague since 1991, Tracy A. Burns has published articles and stories in English, Czech and Slovak. Her work in English has appeared in The Washington Post, for instance. Her travel blog is at She also writes book reviews and essays for the Czech and Slovak academic journal Kosmas. Her writings in Czech have been published in Reflex and Listy, among others. Her articles in Slovak have been printed in SME, for example. She has edited an art catalogue for Prague's National Gallery and is a contributing author to the book The Arena Adventure, about Arena Stage theatre. Her passions are writing, reading and traveling.

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