Castle and Grounds (1)

LINKS to other pages in the Ceský Krumlov site and to the Colin Day Travelling Days series:

1 : Town and Square
2 : St Vitus Church
3 : Minorite Monastery
4 : Castle Tower
5 : Castle and Grounds
6 : Journey from Ceský Krumlov

The castle moat between the first and second courtyards began as part of the original Gothic fortification and served mainly a protective function. It protected the castle wall and the tower gate and had a wooden drawbridge. Under the reign of Wilhelm von Rosenberg in the 16th century, the wall and the tower gate were pulled down and an administrative building - the Buchhalterie (New Burgrave´s House) was constructed in their place. In 1760 the original wooden drawbridge gave way to a stone bridge.

The first notes of bearkeeping at the Ceský Krumlov Castle date from the time of Wilhelm von Rosenberg in the latter half of the 16th century. Just where the bears were kept in the castle at that time is not known. It could not have been in the present bear moat as this was not established until the beginning of the 17th century.


The first records of bears being kept in the moat date from 1707, when four bears were held there. In the first half of the 19th century no bears were to be found there. It was not until 1857 that Karl zu Schwarzenberg of the Orlík family line acquired a pair of bears from Transylvania for Johann Adolf II zu Schwarzenberg. The task of looking after the animals was given to Jan Jindra with the title of "bearkeeper", who held this post for the full 30 years.

Besides bears being born at Ceský Krumlov Castle, the number of bears was maintained by purchasing animals from zoological gardens and by donations from well-known aristocrats. From 1887 the moat remained uninhabited for 20 years. In 1907 the prince Sigmund Schonburg-Waldenburg gave the Schwarzenbergs a gift of two she-bears called Ruschi and Ajax, brought from the preserve of Kynzvart. The first bear lived until 1930, the other until 1935.

At present there are four bears in the moat - the older Vok and Katerina, and their two cubs Daxi and Hubert, which are taken care of by the present bearkeeper, Jan Cerný. The present conditions in which the bears live, however, are far from ideal by modern standards. The administration of Ceský Krumlov castle, in cooperation with the Foundation of the Baroque Theatre, are attempting to carry out a renovation of the ursinarium and improve the living conditions of the bears.


The 'Little Castle' at the foot of the castle tower (right)......

......and the entrance from the first to the second courtyard is though the gateway beyond the stone bridge over the 'bear moat' (below and below right).


The entrance to the castle (right) leads to two further courtyards surrounded by magnificent, decorated buildings (below).


The various building are also linked by attractive corridors with windows and doorways providing views over the town.

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