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Vranov nad Dyjí Chateau: A romantic wonder in south Moravia

Vranov nad Dyji Chateau ranks as my favorite chateau in the Czech Republic because of its picturesque setting as well as its stunning furnishings and artifacts that give the place an intimate atmosphere. Its Baroque and medieval exterior elements complement the romantic countryside and cliffs. The various decorations inside are all exquisite, giving the chateau a well-defined character and a personality of its own.

Located above the village of Vranov nad Dyjí in south Moravia, the chateau is near the historical town of Znojmo, which has a castle and Romanesque rotunda plus captivating churches and more.

The Baroque fountain at Vranov nad Dyjí is spellbinding. The white-and-yellow Baroque chapel next to the chateau looks picturesque looming on a cliffside. The main stairway is dominated by statuary of Hercules and Antaeus, to name a few.

Though the chateau is now Baroque, it originated as a fortress around 1100. A few centuries later it was transformed into a stone castle, but it burned down in 1665 but rebuilt. During the Thirty Years’ War the Swedes were stopped from conquering the castle on two occasions. It was the beginning of a glorious era when Michal Johann II von Althann purchased Vranov nad Dyjí in 1680 as the clan would own the chateau for more than 100 years. He had the Hall of Ancestors and the chapel built. Eventually, the chateau was transformed into a three-winged structure with Neo-Gothic and Romantic features. After 1945 it was nationalized.

The first room is the largest in the chateau and perhaps the most breathtaking. The Hall of Ancestors glorifies the Althann family with stunning ceiling frescoes dominated by a golden chariot. Between oval windows figures of Hercules, Perseus and Orpheus, for example, decorate the walls.

The other rooms may be smaller, but they certainly are impressive. Take the delicate fabric texture of wall hangings adorned with hunting motifs and romantic landscapes in one room, for instance. The famous Vranov stoneware from the 19th century is speckled throughout the chateau. In a dining room a hand-painted picture offers romantic views of a park with ancient, medieval, Chinese and Egyptian elements. The Family Salon features wall fabrics that represent Pompeii and other ancient places. The Blue Salon shows off elegant blue mahogany furniture in Empire style.

The Respirium, where the Althann family would rest after taking a bath, is dominated by Classicist relief stucco and ornamentation with carved wood. The highlights of the Oriental Salon include a Rococo screen with Chinese themes as well as three sections of a 19th century Chinese scroll, a pictorial narration of a tale featuring a third century poet. The Pompeii Salon is sure to dazzle. The graphics on the walls represent interiors of ancient palaces. The adornment in the Gentlemen’s Salon is decorated with spiritual alchemy motifs. The library spaces are home to some 10,000 volumes on a wide variety of topics.

The chapel is a delight as well. With a central cylindrical nave and six oval rooms, it has three altars but a centerpiece on the main altar is notably absent. Frescoes in the cupola astound. Oval panels above the altars portray Heaven, Paradise and The Last Judgment.

It is best to stay in the delightful town of Znojmo and take a bus either to the village of Vranov or to the chateau itself. If you take a bus to the village, you can enjoy a scenic uphill walk to the chateau with many photo opportunities. It is also possible to find accommodation in the romantic village of Vranov nad Dyjí. Whatever option you choose, Vranov nad Dyjí Chateau is sure not to disappoint. Other sights in the area include Bítov Castle and the ruins of Cornštejn Castle.

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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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