In 1999, the Litomyšl chateau was added to UNESCO’s list of world heritage for illustrating “in an exceptional way the aristocratic residences of central Europe in the Renaissance” period.
Even though it’s not visible from all parts of Litomyšl, it dominates the town and is the centre of local history and cultural activity. The chateau gardens and grounds are open to visitors year round and the interior is accessible on regular guided tours during the warmer months.
Two interior tours
The chateau interior is divided into two tours; but in total thirteen rooms are accessible, including the billiard room, library, chapel and a rare baroque theaterette, which is one of only five working examples in the world (another is at Český Krumlov in South Bohemia). Another highlight is the monstrous crystal chandelier which was created for Miloš Forman’s film Amadeus, and later donated to the Litomyšl chateau.
An intriguing feature of the chateau is the exterior decoration. Hundreds and hundreds of square metres have been covered with intricate sgraffito, which is a way of decorating a surface by scraping through a wet layer of plaster to expose a contrasting layer beneath. An abstract brick pattern covers the walls of the chateau and the individual illustrations within each brick are fascinating, with many of them not repeated anywhere else.
Around the base of the roof, the cornice is decorated with more figural representations of various legends and fables. The same pictorial decoration is used on the gables and chimneys and the gentle pattern of the sgraffito blocks is interrupted only by the sundial facing the entrance courtyard.
Grounds and gardens
The chateau grounds are also accessible to the public and admittance is free. The entrance gate leads you through an arched tunnel onto the gravel and pebbles of the main courtyard, where the front of the chateau faces the former brewery building, and family home of Bedřich Smetana.
To one side a fountain stands in front of the former stables and to the other side a path leads through a wrought iron gate to a small formal garden with statues, seats, some majestic old trees, glimpses down towards the centre of Litomyšl. It’s from these gardens that people gain entrance to the cellar gallery of Olbram Zoubek’s sculpture.
Continuing around to the rear of the chateau brings you to a large informal park. Paths wind and curl past the large amphitheatre and along the high stone walls, seats are scattered under leafy old trees and every so often you’ll come across a statue or vantage point that punctuates the greenery.
There are plenty of suitable places for a picnic and with so much to see in the chateau complex (the interior, the exterior, Zoubek’s gallery and Smetana’s home) even the toughest sightseers will need a break.
The chateau is open May through September, Tuesday through Sunday from 9am until at least 4pm, and in April and October only on weekends.
Státní zámek Litomyšl
570 01 Litomyšl
Tel. (+420) 461 615 067