Travelling around the Czech Republic, you’ll start to hear various stories about the Liechtenstein family (yes, the same ones that Liechtenstein the country is named after). Centuries ago, their wealth and influence spread across the land here.
One of the most interesting stories about the Liechtenstein family is about the Lednice-Valtice estate, with its two castles and enormous gardens that were stolen and never given back!
But the story I want to tell you now is about a different site – Kroměříž Castle. One of the most beautiful homes in the Czech Republic, when you visit Kroměříž Castle you can see the legacy of the Liechtenstein family and the influence their money and time was able to have.
But even beyond them, through all the years that came after afterwards, there is an incredible treasure trove to discover here in Kroměříž.
Why is Kroměříž Castle important?
There are several reasons why Kroměříž Castle is so important. The first is the history, being used as the principal residence for the bishops of Olomouc.
The second is because of the incredible collection of art and artefacts that it houses, much of which was added by the Liechtenstein family.
And thirdly, the gardens are considered some of the best of their type in Europe – and the main reason this is a World Heritage Site.
Is it worth visiting Kroměříž Castle?
There are quite a few castles in the Czech Republic, but visiting Kroměříž Castle gives you access to one of the best interiors, full of treasures from the country’s history and an excellent art collection. If you’re interested in gardens (particularly the Baroque style) then it’s also worth visiting just for that!
Can you go inside Kroměříž Castle?
Yes, you can go inside Kroměříž Castle. Access is only with a guided tour but they run regularly in several languages and will take you to all the main rooms, including the ceremonial areas and the exquisite library.
Over many years, the chateau was filled with priceless artworks and artefacts, which is one of the reasons why visiting Kroměříž Castle is such a wonderful thing to do when you’re visiting the Czech Republic.
History of Kroměříž Castle
The castle at Kroměříž existed before the Liechtensteins came along, with the first residence being built on the site in 1497.
Records from the time tell us that it was in a Late Gothic style with a few details that could be described as Renaissance. It stayed like this for about 150 years until the Swedish army ransacked it in 1643 during the Thirty Years War.
Kroměříž Castle was an important building even then. It was the home of the bishops of Olomouc – bishops at that time having as much a political role as a religious one. So, there was a desire to restore the castle after its destruction.
In stepped the Liechtensteins… twenty years later.
They paid for the castle to be renovated in a Baroque style and made liveable again. At the same time, the Pleasure Garden was built (it is now in the middle of the old town that exists around the castle).
This garden is still considered to be one of the finest in Europe.
UNESCO has included Kroměříž Castle and its gardens on the World Heritage List. Interestingly, it notes that the castle is not particularly special and that it’s the Pleasure Garden which has justified the inscription.
I can see why that could be the case from a bureaucratic stance – but I think it misses something quite important.
I have previously written about Litomyšl Castle in the Czech Republic, another World Heritage Site, and made the observation that its interiors offer nothing unique.
But what Kroměříž Castle has that Litomyšl Castle doesn’t is a trove of treasures!
Things to see at Kroměříž Castle
The only way to go inside Kroměříž Castle is with a guided tour, so I join the group and we’re slowly led through a selection of the rooms, one by one.
We start in the ‘games’ room where a large billiards table in the centre is surrounded by dozens of animal heads – hunting trophies – mounted on the walls.
We go through residential rooms with plush couches and ornate sitting arrangements.
And there are the ceremonial areas with thrones and paintings of bishops and archbishops.
But these decorations are rather standard for the castles of this vintage in Central Europe. What is special are some of the particular items.
Let’s take the library for instance.
In this wonderful section of the castle, there are tens of thousands of volumes of books. Within them is a deep history of the politics and society of the periods they were collected and treasured by the rulers of these lands.
Look for the musical cabinet and you’ll see manuscripts from composers like Mozart and Beethoven. In another cabinet is an extremely valuable collection of coins and medals.
In another part of Kroměříž Castle is a collection of paintings from the 15th to 18th century that has been declared as the second best gallery in the whole country, after the National Gallery in Prague.
There are more than 500 paintings kept here and it is an extremely important European collection.
Kroměříž Castle Tower
The ticket that I’ve bought for the castle tour includes a trip up the tower. This I do alone, step by step, slowly climbing upwards.
At the top, the view makes it all worthwhile. From here I can look down into the main courtyard of the castle but also – more interestingly – across the town itself.
The town has a population of about 30,000, which is more than I would have guessed. It must spread out beyond sight because here in the centre it still has the quaint feeling of a history.
The same could also be said about the English-style garden right behind the castle, which is one of the highlights of a visit to Kroměříž Castle.
The gardens of Kroměříž Castle
There are two gardens that are a part of Kroměříž Castle (and the World Heritage Site). The most significant is the Pleasure Garden, which is now physically separated from the castle and is located about 700 metres away, just on the other side of the historic centre of town.
Kroměříž’s Pleasure Garden is an intact example of a Baroque Garden, which is rare in Europe these days. It’s not very big – about 500 metres by 300 metres, but is full of little details. Set in a grid pattern with pathways on the diagonals, it has intricately shaped hedges, colourful flower gardens, and a central rotunda.
Visiting the Pleasure Garden (also known as the Flower Garden) requires a separate ticket to the castle, and it has slightly different opening hours. You can check the latest details at the garden’s official website.
Entry to the Pleasure Garden costs:
Adult 25-64 years old: 140 CZK (US$5.50)
Adult 18-24 years old: 110 CZK (US$4.98)
Child (6-17 years): 40 CZK (US$1.81)
Concession: 110 CZK ($4.98)
Unlike the special Pleasure Garden, the Castle Garden is like a meandering parkland that seems to have no boundaries until you suddenly stumble across an iron fence. The small lakes and flower displays are charming and just add to the experience of a visit to Kroměříž.
The Castle Garden free to enter and is easy to add to your visit to the castle – just go for a wander before or after your tour. You could even get some takeaway food and eat it here for a lovely picnic.
How to visit Kroměříž Castle
For a lot of tourists who only spend time in Prague when they come to the Czech Republic, visiting Kroměříž Castle will seem a bit too far. But if you’re going to be in the east of the country, around Brno or even Ostrava, I think it’s worth popping in.
You can go inside Kroměříž Castle but only as part of a guided tour that the castle runs. They go regularly but not necessarily at set times, so I would advise either giving yourself enough time to wait until a tour starts, or get in touch with the castle in advance to ask what’s planned the day you want to visit.
The main guided tour of Kroměříž Castle, which covers all the highlights, takes about 90 minutes. It’s called the ‘Via Residentia’ and includes the Representative Halls and the Chateau Tower.
The other options are:
- Representative Halls: This takes you through all the same rooms in the castle as the Via Residentia tour, but doesn’t include entry to the Chateau Tower.
- Chateau Gallery: This offers entry to the castle’s art gallery, considered the Czech Republic’s second-best collection. This is unguided so you can visit at any point without waiting for a tour.
- Sala Terrana: This 30-minute guided tour takes you into the castle’s sala terrana, a hall decorated to look like grottoes, with access to the garden.
As I mentioned earlier, the Pleasure Garden is operated as a separate site, with an additional entry fee. But visiting it can also give you something to do while you’re waiting for the castle tour – so I recommend going to the castle first to see when the tour is, before going to the garden.
The Castle Garden can be accessed at any time for free during daylight hours.
Where is Kroměříž Castle?
Kroměříž Castle is in the city of Kroměříž, about 60 kilometres east of Brno and 230 kilometres southeast of Prague.
The official address is Sněmovní nám. 1, 767 01 Kroměříž, Czechia. You can see it on a map here.
How do you get to Kroměříž Castle?
Travelling by public transport, it’s quite easy to reach Kroměříž Castle from Brno. Catch the train to Kojetín and then transfer onto a bus to Kroměříž. It will take about 1h 30m.
You can check the timetable here.
When is Kroměříž Castle open?
The opening hours for Kroměříž Castle change during the year. They are as follows:
January to March: Closed
April: 09:30 – 16:00, weekends only.
May: 09:30 – 16:00 on Tue – Fri. 08:30 – 17:00 on weekends.
June: 08:30 – 17:00, Tue – Sun.
July: 08:30 – 18:00, Tue – Sun.
August: 08:30 – 18:00, Tue – Sun.
September: 08:30 – 17:00, Tue – Sun.
October: 09:30 – 16:00, weekends only
November to December: Closed
The Chateau Garden is open every day throughout the year from 07:00, closing between 16:00 – 20:00, depending on the time of the year.
How much does it cost to visit Kroměříž Castle?
There are a few options to see different parts of Kroměříž Castle. I would recommend the main tour, covering the Representative Halls and the Chateau Tower, known as the ‘Via Residentia’.
The Via Residentia tour of Kroměříž Castle in Czech language costs:
Adult: 250 CZK (US$11.33)
Reduced: 180 CZK (US$8.16)
Family: 750 CZK (US$33.99)
The Via Residentia tour of Kroměříž Castle in English or German language costs:
Adult: 370 CZK (US$16.77)
Reduced: 280 CZK (US$12.69)
Family: 1000 CZK (US$45.31)
For more information, you can visit the castle’s official website.
If you remember my story about Lednice-Valtive, which I referred to earlier, you’ll recall the ownership of that site still contested – that the Liechtensteins want it back. There’s no such controversy about Kroměříž Castle.
It is what it is. A wonderful palace with lovely gardens. And carefully guarded inside, some of the greatest treasures of the Czech Republic. It’s a pleasure to unlock them.
Most people would visit Kroměříž Castle as a day trip from Brno, even though it’s about 1h 30m each way by train. But, if you would like to spend the night, there are some lovely places to stay in Kroměříž.
THE BEST ACCOMMODATION IN KROMERIZ
Don’t expect big hotels – most of the places to stay in Kroměříž offer cute penzion-style accommodation.
The rooms are quite basic but a bonus is that Penzion a Vinoteka Hrozen has an on-site wine store!
Set in a 16th-century building, the renovation at Hotel Purkmistr brings a wonderful modern touch to the interior design.
Right in the historic centre, Hotel Octarna has comfortable rooms and free on-site parking.
With beautiful modern apartments of different sizes, Apartmány Velké náměstí is a great choice for families.