History castle and chateau Klenová

History castle and chateau Klenová


Middle ages

The first reference to the Lords of Klenová dates back to the year 1287. At this time the foundations of the local castle were laid in the second half of the 13th century. The lower part of the palace's northern wall and the tower in the westernmost part of the complex have been preserved from that period. The lower, round part of the above-mentioned tower, at present partially hidden beneath the terrain and accessible through a hole in the vault, served as the castle prison. The tower was accessible from the first floor through a gangway leading from the bulwark of the adjacent palace. The castle was surrounded by a moat, which has been preserved up to the present time around almost the entire castle, with the exception of the space in front of the château, where the moat was filled up the 1830's, when the château was being built.

In the period of the 14th and 15th centuries, a few generations of the Lords of Klenová and of Janovice fought for the power at Klenová. Under the rule of the Luxembourg kings there seems to have been intensive building activity, particularly in the north-eastern part of the upper castle above the preserved cellars. The outer ward gallery around the castle comes probably from this period; on the northern side it must have been founded on vaulted arches, still apparent today when viewing from the castle moat. The present appearance of the palace's south-eastern section, today the best preserved part of the castle ruins, comes - according to surviving documents - from the time of the king Wenceslas IV. On the first floor, a new hall with a "Hussite chapel" was built, adjoining a terrace established in the 19th century. In the coping stone of its cross-ribbed vault, now protected by a modern roof significantly affecting the appearance of the castle's silhouette, a stone-cutting symbol is still visible. At that time a polygonal superstructure of probably an older round tower originated as well, in which the castle chapel was located. After it collapsed, the space was adapted to make a view terrace in the 19th century.

In the years 1420 - 1465, the ancestral residence was owned by Přibík of Klenová, a famous warrior and one of the most important figures in the political life of that time. At the time of the Hussite Wars, he succeeded in acquiring Stříbro. He then owned this town for a rather long time and he acquired considerable property there. This action of his was entered in the annals of the Hussite Wars as one of the most significant events of that stormy period. He participated in the siege of Plzeň as well; later, however, he went over to the enemy and supplied the besieged town with provisions. In addition to various diplomatic services rendered to Czech kings, his sally to Bavaria in 1450 is worth mentioning too: he stole 600 heads of cattle and horses there. He is also connected to a legend recorded by Václav Hájek of Libočany. According to this legend, in 1447 he arrested two Polish monks travelling to Bavaria for the suspicion that they were carrying materials against Calixtin bishop Jan Rokycana to Rome. He tortured them cruelly and later - so that news of the torture would not get out - he had them starved to death in the aforementioned castle prison in the tower. The most important construction act of Přibík of Klenová was the further reinforcement of the fortifications. On the most vulnerable side, orientated towards the east, the incline with an old rampart was surrounded with a strong wall; in front of this wall a second moat was dug and another rampart was built. This system has been preserved to the north of the castle until the present day. However, along the approach communication and to the south of the castle the moat was filled in and the rampart demolished. The new fortification was progressive especially for the reason that at the crest of the fortification, accessible from the castle from ramps, it was possible to manoeuvre cannons. The bastions were built only in the Late Gothic period and apparently overlapped the brickwork slightly. In addition to their military function, they served as supporting structures for the masonry, which gradually began to curve. The northern part had collapsed and was rebuilt as late as the 19th century in a rather atypical shape. Along the southern section, presently hidden in the castle body, utility premises were situated.

Kryštov Harant

The Renaissance and Kryštof Harant of Polžice and Bezdružice

In the first half of the 16th century, the rule of the Lords of Klenová came to an end and after a few other owners, the castle was acquired by Jiří Harant of Polžice and Bezdružice in 1553. He was an impecunious nobleman; notwithstanding this he held a high official position in the Emperor's services. The construction work carried out by him affected mainly the upper part of the castle palace, no longer in existence. The only part preserved until the present time is the burgrave's office, rebuilt from a Late Gothic kitchen. On the hall floor a fresco freize with the coats-of-arms of the owners of the manor and friendly nobility were discovered before the mid-20th century. By tradition, some of Jiří Harant's numerous children were born in Klenová, among them Kryštof Harant of Polžice and Bezdružice, a major Renaissance politician, traveller, music composer and writer. He took over the manor after 1584, along with his brother Adam. Adam's part remained in the possession of the Harant family, while that of Kryštof, whose activities took him away from Klenová, was acquired by his brother-in-law, Přibík of Klenová (not the same man mentioned above). In 1646, both parts were united in the hands of the Count of Martinice. At about that time the castle began to fall into disrepair and in 1737 is mentioned to be in ruins.

Kryštof Harant of Polžice and Bezdružice (1564 - 1621) is the most important personality connected with Klenová. It is most probable that he was born here because Klenová was then the residence of his father. He was duly educated partly by his home tutor and partly at school in Plzeň. He acquired broad knowledge and skills in the cultural environment at the Innsbruck court of Archduke Ferdinand II of Tyrol, where he went in 1576 at his father's wish. He learned Latin, Greek, Italian and German and was educated in history, geography, state science, politics, theology, music, mathematics and sciences. Social activity, meetings with foreign guests and accompanying Ferdinand on his journey to Italy laid the foundations of his liking for travel. After the death of his father in 1584, he took charge of the administration of the family estate. In the years 1594 - 1597 he participated in an anti-Turkish war expedition, during which he displayed military talent and fidelity to the Emperor. After his return from this expedition, his wife died; influenced by this event and at the same time driven by the ambition to become more familiar with the countries inhabited by the Turks, he decided to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

He left in the spring of 1598, accompanied by his brother-in-law, Knight Heřman Černín of Chudenice. The journey leading through Bavaria and Tyrol to Italy, then to Crete, Cyprus, to Palestinian Jaffa, (now Tel Aviv), Jerusalem and Egypt was described in his book of travels titled Pilgrimage or a Journey from the Czech Kingdom to the City of Venice, one of the most famous works of Czech literature. Beginning in autumn 1599, Harant stayed either at the Bělá citadel or in Plzeň, where he met personally Emperor Rudolph II. From 1600 onwards, he belonged to the Emperor's narrow circle of collaborators. In 1603, he was promoted to manorial status. After Rudolph's death, Harant worked briefly in the service of Matthias. In 1614-1615, he was sent to Spain with a diplomatic message. He is said to have described the journey across Western Europe in a German book of travels, whose manuscript, however, has not been preserved. After he returned, he abandoned Habsburg service and lived at Pecka castle, which he had acquired with his second marriage, and dedicated himself to housekeeping, literature and mainly to music as a composer and the founder of the château orchestra. A few of Harant's compositions have been preserved to the present. In 1618, for reasons that are not completely clear, he converted to Utraquist beliefs and took an active part in the Estates Uprising. In 1619, he even commanded the artillery when besieging Vienna.

Under the rule of Frederick, the 'Winter King', he performed various functions in the court - he was a royal, court and chamber judicial councillor and president of the Czech Chamber. The uprising having been defeated, he was arrested in February 1621 and for his participation in the revolt sentenced to death by beheading. The execution was carried out on June 21 in the Old Town Square in Prague. He was buried in the church crypt at Pecka castle.

19th century

History of the castle and the château in the 19th century

In the 19th century, Klenová was completely abandoned, with the exception of a few farm buildings in the bailey. In 1832, the manor was bought by Count Joseph Philip Edward Stadion-Warthausen und Thannhausen. His family owned the nearby manor of Trhanov, he himself the manor of Chlum u Třeboně. Count Stadion began to renovate Klenová in an atmosphere of period Romanticism. In the area of the southern fortifications he built a château, in which he included older buildings; this determined its appearance, consisting of three distinctly separated parts.

The most remarkable section is the western one, where the owner's prestigious residence was decorated in Neo-Gothic style - this is one of the very early examples of its use in Bohemia. The castle ruin had the function of a romantic coulisse here. Count Stadion adapted the view terraces here and also repaired the big tower, which he completed with a roof with a balcony. By filling up the moat and levelling the terrain, the present space between the castle and the château arose, where a park was founded. Furthermore, Count Stadion built the lower gate, in front of the upper gate he established a chapel and in the space in front of the large tower he built a coach room in Neo-Gothic style.

However, he is likely to have been exhausted by the demanding construction work, so that in 1836 he was forced to cede Klenová to his brother Franz (who became Austrian Minister of the Interior for a short time in 1848) and in 1838 the manor was sold to František Václav Veith. He finished the château interiors, whose ornamental decoration (illusional wall panelling) was probably ordered from the famous Czech painter Josef Navrátil, who worked for Veith and his relatives in other areas of Bohemia too; for example, the Jirny and Liběchov châteaus. We have a detailed description of the château in its definitive appearance from František Antonín Heber's famous publication about Czech castles and citadels dating from 1848.

Under the next owner of the château, Heliodor Heidl, who acquired the château after 1849 and kept it until 1880, the western neo-Gothic wing was adapted in neo-Renaissance style and united with the remaining parts. The interiors were decorated in a similar manner - they were provided with a rich stucco decoration, papered and the doors and windows were framed with wooden lining with ledges and forked extensions. Under Heidl in the 1860's, the moat on the southern side was filled in and a garden was created in the area. Minor adaptations continued under the next owner, Felix of Heintscheln, Knight of Heinegg, who built the Villa Paula under the castle, later renamed the Villa of Mr and Mrs Kotrba.

When he died, his wife had the Neo-Gothic Chapel of St. Felix built in his memory on a nearby hillock, where a small forward castle had been located before. The château remained in private ownership until 1951; in this year the castle and the château were handed over to the administration of the National Cultural Commission. The painter Vilma Vrbová - Kotrbová is registered as the last owner. In 1963, a fine-arts gallery was established in Klenová.