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Cultural Landmarks


The most important landmark in Zahrádky, though unfortunately now seriously damaged by fire, is the chateau, built in 1547 – 1550 by Jan z Vartenberka (Johann von Wartenberg). As attested by the oldest variant of the designation of the chateau – Nový Vítkovec – it evidently replaced a now unknown earlier building, most likely a fortress, which had probably stood on the site from the end of the 14th century. Jan z Vartenberka also devoted much expenditure to the chateau interiors. Later, the chateau was owned by various members of the house of Vartenberk. The last of them was Jan Jiří, who took an active role in the anti-Hapsburg rebellion of 1618 – 1620, leading up to the Thirty Years’ War. As a result, he was punished in 1622 with the loss of his entire property.
The new chateau was purchased in. 1623 by Albrecht von Wallenstein. At that time, the chateau contained particularly valuable furniture, an exceptional library, and its own picture gallery.
After the murder of Wallenstein in 1634 in Cheb (Eger), the chateau passed on first to his wife Isabella and then to her only daughter, Maria Elisabeth, married to the chief huntsman of Count Rudolf Kounic.
The estate remained a fief of the house of Kounic up until 1897, when the line came to a tragic end. One of the members of this noble house worthy of mention was Eleonora Voračická z Paběnic, a close friend of such leading figures of the Czech national revival as Josef Dobrovský, František Palacký, P. J. Šafařík, and the woman to whom famed novelist Božena Němcová dedicated her most beloved novel, Babička (The Grandmother).
After the family of Kounic, the owner of the chateau was Jan Lichtenštejn (Lichtenstein) and after him Emanuel Lichtenštejn.
Currently, the chateau belongs to Charles University, and was used to prepare international students for study at Czech universities. In 1992 the chateau was reconstructed as a hotel, but was damaged by a severe fire in January 2003.
One longstanding legend associated with this chateau is that of the Violet Fairy who guards the chateau. According to a prophecy, the estate will flourish only when it is owned by a woman. And all still believe that at some point the chateau will flower in its full glory, even after the devastating fire.
In the early 17th century, a large park was created around the chateau, with many old and rare trees. The manorial park was further enlivened by a masonry pavilion and statues of St. Barbara and St. John of Nepomuk, which formerly stood on St. Barbara’s Bridge across the stream at the end of the Wallenstein linden alley. This row of trees is 300 years old and leads to one of the oldest pheasant-grounds in Bohemia. Through this pheasant-ground it is possible to reach the game park, where on the sandstone cliff known as Žižka’s Hill (324 m) stand the remnants of the castle of Vřísek, constructed on the site of a prehistoric Slavonic fortification. The game park, however, is closed to the public, being used for the breeding of moufflon sheep and wild goats.
In the town itself stand many traditional half-timbered buildings, very often with inset arcades on the ground floor and arched staircase galleries above them. The Zahrádky region was declared a landmark region of vernacular architecture in 1996.
To the southeast of Zahrádky stands the church of St. Barbara. Originally Renaissance, it was built on a plan in the shape of a Latin cross around 1550 and later given a Baroque appearance. The nearby bell tower has, above the entrance portal, a date plaque of 1609. Beside the stairway to the cemetery that surrounds the church are two Baroque statues of St. Wenceslas and St. Procopius from the early 18th century, and somewhat further on a statue of St. Jude from the same era. Inside the church is the tomb of the Kounic family. The church is the only remnant of the village of Mnichov, destroyed in the Thirty Years’ War.
At a bend in the road between Jestřebí and Zahrádky stands a statue among the trees, depicting St. Starosta from 1705. This statue is a unique example of a Catholic hagiographic legend originating from Portugal. According to the story, her father, the King of Portugal, wished for her to marry the king of Sicily. However, she had sworn a vow of chastity and called upon God to save her. By a miracle, a thick beard grew upon her face, the Sicilian king withdrew his offer of marriage, and the angry father had his daughter crucified.

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