Baroque by fire
Manětín Castle in the little town of Manětín, Czech Republic
Some background information:
Manětín Castle is a prime example of Czech baroque architecture. The stately home is located right in the town centre of Manětín, which is also called the "the baroque pearl of Western Bohemia”. Both town and castle are situated between the cities of Plzeň and Karlovy Vary, 30 km (19 miles) in the northwest of Plzeň and 40 km (25 miles) in the southeast of Karlovy Vary.
The antecedent building on the site of the present baroque stately home was a medieval fortress, which was taken over by the Czech noble family Hrobčický z Hrobčic from the nobility Švamberk in 1560. Jeroným Hrobčický z Hrobčic extended the fortress around 1600 and later converted it into a representative Renaissance-style palace.
In the 17th century Manětín Castle passed into the ownership of the noble family Lažanský. It were Václav Josef Lažanský and his wife Maria Gabriela, who converted it into a high baroque stately home in 1712, after the Renaissance building’s structure was heavily damaged by a fire. The same fire afflicted the whole town centre of Manětín. Subsequently the Austrian baroque architect Thomas Hafenecker, was charched with the rebuilding of the town’s main square, the church of John the Baptist and of course also the palace. The completion of the reconstruction work was finally carried out by Johann Georg Hess after Hafenecker’s death in 1730. Since then Manětín Castle has an elongated central building with adjacent outbuildings on an L-shaped groundplan.
The façade, which faces the town’s main square, has 33 window axes, which are subdivided by three entrance portals. Manětín Castle is also connected with the church of John the Baptist by a roofed passageway.
After World War II the stately home became the administrative seat of the local forestry commission and inside even apartments for its staff were constructed. But already in 1959 both ballroom and library were opened to the public and in 1962 many of the formerly confiscated furnishings came back to Manětín Castle. Today both palace and garden are mostly open to the public and have the status of a national cultural monument. Guided tours can be booked, although they’re on offer only in Czech language. But information leaflets in many languages help foreign visitors to improve themselves in the stately home’s history.