The Chateau - Regional Museum in Mikulov
The governor ´s castle at the boundary of Moravia and Lower Austria existed since the second decade of 13th century. In 1249 the castle, probably still under construction, was donated fief by Přemysl Otakar II to Jindřich of Liechtenstein, thus becoming the basis of the later extensive family property of the Liechtenstein family. Under the first Liechtensteinů rulers before the end of 13th century the castle was completed with a cylindrical tower with blade in front of the northern castle wall, a strong peripheral wall and adaptation of the palace. On the rock between the first and the second yard a slim round tower was erected, equipped before 1380 with Virgin Mary ´s and St. John the Evangelist Chapel. In 1402 Jan II of Liechtenstein shortly accommodated there Václav IV on his run away from the Vienna prison.
Mikulov represented the main seat of the Liechtenstein family, and therefore it was very often reconstructed to be able to provide for comfortable and sufficiently representative residence of the sometimes quite numerous family members. In the latter half of 15th century the present first yard with the prismatic tower and the later erected Smoking Tower came into existence. A fundamental reconstruction in the former half of 16th century resulted in four prolonged early renaissance bastions later used for further extensions of the chateau. The costly lifestyle and the poor economy forced Kryštof IV of Liechtenstein in 1560 to sell the whole Mikulov estate to Ladislav Kereczenyi of Kaniafeld for 60,000 thalers, but Ladislav´s son was the last member of the family and the whole estate was transferred to the Imperial Chamber as escheat.
In 1575 the free estate was donated by Emperor Rudolf II to Adam of Dietrichstein (1527-1590), ambassador of the Imperial Court in Rome and Madrid. He and his descendants held the Mikulov estate till 1945. The period of the greatest flourish of the Mikulov chateau came kunder the reign of Adam ´s son František Serafin, Cardinal and Olomouc Bishop (1570-1636), who, among other things, had the to-date renaissance chateau reconstructed. Instead of the northern bastion the Ancestors´ Hall was built, the entrance to the chateau was rebuilt, and the chateau theatre was built in the first yard. Following the model of the northern bastion the western and the south-western bastions were also rebuilt. In the period of 30 years´ war the chateau was twice occupied by soldiers of the enemy, in 1620 by the army of the rebellious estates and in 1645 by the Swedes, both obviously damaging the buildings and their equipment.
Further major reconstructions changed the design of the chateau in the latter half of 17th century and in early 18th century. The nearly completed construction was destroyed on 10 August 1719 with a large fire, after which the chateau in fact had to be built anew. All buildings were constructed in the same height, the floors were newly rearranged and the building of the riding school was added on the basis of the design by F. A. Grimm together with the external wing between the southern and the south-western bastion with a salla terrena on the ground floor. The interior decorations were created by outstanding artists, in the first place painter A. J. Prenner, sculptor I. Lengelacher, who also made the statues by the access road to the chateau, and art locksmith H. G. Forster, among other things the author of the two-wing forged gate to the chateau garden. In this design the chateau welcomed French emperor Napoleon I in 1805, who originally selected the chateau for his peace negotiations following the Austerlitz battle.
Further major reconstructions were implemented in 19th century, especially in the honorary yard and its articulation in relation to the square. In 1866 when the chateau belonged to the Austrian minister of foreign affairs Alexander Mensdorff-Pouilly armistice between Austria and Prussia was concluded in the chateau following the unfortunate battle of Hradec Králové. April 1945 brought about a disaster even exceeding in consequences the one of 1719, when under unclear circumstances a large fire destroyed the building down to the foundations. For another three years the site of the fire continued to decay and only in 1948 the Union for Renewal of Mikulov Chateau started adaptation of the space in front of the chateau and in 1951 reconstruction of the chateau itself on the basis of a project by Architect O. Oplatek, completed in early 1960s. The rescued remains of the equipment were left in the chateau, the new seat of the Regional Museum. The objects not damaged by either fire include the giant barrel of 1643 with the volume of 1010.18 hl.
The Honorary Yard on the lowest level of the chateau was built in the course of the chateau reconstruction after the destructive fire in 1719. The sculptures decorating the Yard were made by Ignác Lengelacher, the author of the two-wing forged gate to the chateau garden was artistic locksmith Heinrich Gottfried Forster. The Honorary Yard, the important space of all modern noble houses, was directly connected to the entrance space on the way to the chateau, represented by the square with its imposing architecture, the town hall and St. Anne ´s Church.
Entrance to Chateau Cellar
By the entrance to the chateau near the Smoking Tower a theatre was built by the wall of the first eternal yard and a high cellar. The theatre was first mentioned in written materials in 1640. This is the location of the giant tithe wine barrel for 1010.18 hl made by the Brno barrel maker Kryštof Špecht since 1643.
The present chateau library originally housed a theatre hall constructed by František of Dietrichstein and first mentioned in writing in 1640. The cardinal ´s large library was originally in another place and most of the books became prey of Swedish soldiers who conquered the town and the chateau in 1645 and moved the library to Sweden in 48 barrels. The present library, consisting of around 11,000 volumes, was built by the subsequent Dietrichstein generations and other friendly noble families. A large part of the books come from the former Piarist grammar school.
The blade tower was built in the northern front in the period of the extensive reconstruction of the castle before the end of 13th century made by the Liechtenstein family. Blades were constructed with attack towers that might be bombarded from one side only. The blade was constructed in the assumed firing direction. Similar towers can be found at Bítov or Svojanov castles, or at Zvíkov and in Strakonice in Bohemia.
The slim tower on the rock between the first and the second yard has been one of the oldest constructions on the castle hill. Before 1380 the Liechtenstein family had the Virgin Mary and St. John the Evangelist Church built. In the course of the chateau reconstruction the tower was provided with a slim pyramidal roof. After the fire in 1945 the pyramid was replaced with the present Baroque dome.