“Střekov castle is situated in the village Střekov in the city of Ústí nad Labem. It was built at the beginning of the 14th century on a basalt rock above the river Labe to protect the important waterway and to collect duties. Střekov castle enchanted many world known artists notably Richard Wagner who was inspired to write a poem that served as basis for the libretto to the opera Tannhäuser.” -Wikipedia
One of the most surprising learnings from my time in Czech Republic has been discovering the number of castles throughout the small country. Czech Republic is roughly the size of the US state of South Carolina, 30, 000 square miles, with about the same number of inhabitants, 1.3 million. But imagine, in a country of that size, Czech Republic has over 2000 castles and palaces.
I’ve traveled to see many, and have found a few in places where I never would have expected to find a castle. One is only a few miles from my house.
Recently, my family and I took a roadtrip north to see a castle owned by the Lobkowicz family, renowned for its dark and looming presence above the Elbe River. That castle is Střekov Castle, near the town of Ústí nad Labem, close to the northern German border. (pronounced Strzh-eck-ov)
Bohemian legend says that a maiden once lived in Střekov, the daughter of the Lord over the Castle. She fell in love with a common horseman, yet her father forbid their love. He imprisoned the horseman, who soon died in the Castle tower. Stricken with grief, the maiden jumped from the Castle’s high perch, and as she fell, her golden hair touched the dark basalt rock. Every year in spring, they say golden flowers bloom from the sheer rock in remembrance of her love. Local lore also says her ghost can be seen climbing the rock to reunite with the spirit of her lover, who died in the Castle.
The “ghost” of Střekov Castle inspired Richard Wagner to visit, write a poem, and eventually write the opera Tannhäuser based on Střekov Castle.
For you: Have you visited Czech Republic and seen some of its many castles? Which are your favorites?