Written by Jan Martinek
Bezdez castle is located in Liberec region in northern Bohemia. It was founded in 1264, near the town of Doksy. It had a very strategically advantageous position and its main purpose was to protect a nearby trading route. The castle’s founder, king Premysl Otakar II., wanted to solidify his power against the Czech nobility by building royal cities and impregnable castles.
The castle was finished just after the king’s death. Shortly after, it was used to imprison his widowed wife Kunhuta and his seven years old son Vaclav. At the beginning of the 14th century, the castle came into the ownership of the nobility but was taken back by Karel IV. in 1346. Bezdez was the backbone of the catholic church in northern Bohemia, during the Hussite wars. The castle saw many owners from 1468 to 1588. It was in 1588, that the emperor Rudolf II. decided to sell the castle to Jan of Vartenberk.
The castle was sold again after the battle of the White mountain to Albrecht of Valdstejn. Just before Albrecht of Valdstejn claimed it, the castle was conquered and burned down. Even though Bezdez was heavily damaged, Albrecht decided to rebuild it into a baroque fortress. However, this idea was later rejected and the castle was supposed to become a fortified monastery in 1627. The reconstruction was never finished and the castle was later gifted to the Spanish order of montserratian Benedictines. Before the end of The Thirty Years’ War, the castle was
temporarily occupied by Swedes. The castle became occupied again in 1661 by monks, who came here to repair the castle’s chapel. Bezdez became a place of pilgrimage. The monks amassed a great deal of wealth there, which was unfortunately taken away by the Prussian forces in 1778. A while later, in 1785, the monastery was abolished by emperor Josef II.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the castle became a ruin, although it was still visited by many people, religious and non-religious alike. The castle began reconstruction in 1932 by The Club of Czechoslovak Tourists as a tourist attraction, but the reconstruction was interrupted by World War II. Bezdez ultimately was nationalized in 1953.