Written by Anna Fictumova
The Konopiste Chateau is located in the Stredocesky (Central Bohemian) Region near Benesov. It was founded in the late 13th century and the first mention of it can be dated back to 1318. The history of its owners is very rich, starting with the Benesov Dynasty, which includes Tobias from Benesov, who is the chateau’s founder, to the Stenberk Dynasty and Hodejov Dynasty, to finally the Habsburg-D’este Dynasty. This medieval chateau was first built according to Gothic standards and then, in the 18th century, it was modified into a baroque residence. While in the possession of Archduke Franz Ferdinand the chateau was once again modernized by adding water piping, electricity and even a hydraulic elevator. Unfortunately, progress slowed after World War I, when it was confiscated from the Habsburgs and fell into the hands of the Czechoslovakian state. On the brighter side it was partly opened to the public.
During World War II the chateau closed and served as the headquarters to the SS. After Czechoslovakia was liberated in 1945, the Konopiste Chateau was once again opened to the public and it has been open ever since. Furthermore, even after its rocky few decades, this chateau maintained its luxurious furnishings and magical atmosphere. Nowadays, the chateau is managed by the National Heritage Institute and welcomes annually over 140,000 visitors.
The Konopiste chateau is also bordered by a landscape park full of artistic pieces and beautiful views, even including a museum and a breath-taking Rose Garden. In the heart of the Rose Garden stands tall a Way of the Cross memorial with crucified Jesus built in 1775. Konopiste Chateau stores as well a big amount of unique religious antiques relating to the cult of St. George patron of knights. And like many other Czech castles, the chateau has its own pet bear. Jiri, originally Brumbas, lives right under the looming drawbridge and is looking for a female bear companion.