Since the dawn of Czech history, the heart of Europe saw a number of feudal seats with a defensive function built to protect the land against the devastating raids from neighboring countries. These defense castles were thus often built atop inaccessible rock formations and steep hills, or else were surrounded by water moats.
This style only began to change in the fourth decade of the 13th century, when royal castles and the first noble seats appeared. In the vicinity of these castles and their ruins, we can still view the evidence of various sieges; onetime army camps and firing positions are discernible from the surviving massive protective lines and deep moats.
The arrival of the 16th century brought a new lifestyle, which demonstrated itself in the appearance of comfortable chateaux, many of which were surrounded by splendid parks and gardens featuring rare trees, sculptures and decorative structures.
On the territory of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia, all types of medieval castles have been preserved. Similarly, the entire range of historical architectural styles has influenced the appearance of chateaux in our country. Today we can see both pure examples of a single style or structures that have gone through a number of adaptations, resulting in an interesting mixture of styles.
Many castles and chateaux attract visitors through a number of programs in addition to guided tours; these might include night-time tours, medieval-style tournaments and feasts, international music festivals and competitions. Several chateaux have been converted into hotels.
Nowadays, most Czech castles and chateaux are owned by the state, even though many were returned to their original owners, whether aristocratic families or church institutions. These old-new owners have kept their property open to the public, frequently restoring the buildings to their original appearance.
Czech castles and chateaux are attractive not only to tourists but also to a large number of film and TV crews, both domestic and, increasingly, international.
The “Castle Road” (Burgenstrasse) is part of a romantic route that begins near Mannheim and concludes in Prague. On the Czech territory, it comprises 13 locations that together offer a cross-section of 1,000 years of architecture: Cheb Castle, Kynžvart Chateau, Castle and Chateau Bečov, Loket Castle, Teplá Monastery, Water Castle Švihov, Nebílovy Chateau, Cateau Kozel, Hořovice Chateau, Žebrák and Točník Castles, Karlštějn Castle, Křivoklát Castle, Prague Castle.
Visitors to the Czech Republic can enjoy some chateaux while attending a conference, meeting or convention; among other venues, these events are often hosted by the chateaux of Mostov (near Cheb), Sychrov (near Liberec) and Dětenice (near Jičín).