Information about Lockett Castle, Czech Republic
Loket Castle (Czech: Hrad Loket, German: Burg Elbogen) is a 12th-century Gothic style castle about 12 kilometres (7 mi) from Karlovy Vary on a massive rock in the town of Loket, Karlovarský kraj, Czech Republic. It is surrounded on three sides by the Ohře river. Once known as “the Impregnable Castle of Bohemia”, because of its thick walls, it is one of the oldest and most valuable historical stone castles in the Czech lands.
Loket, originally called Stein-Elbogen due to its rocky location, is said to have been founded in 870 by the margraves of Vohenburg who were then related to the dukes of Bavaria to whom the entire Elbogen districts belonged until the 12th century.
The first written mention of Loket as a town comes from a 1234 deed when the first known royal Loket burgrave was recorded. According to archeological investigations, the foundation of the stone castle dates back to the third quarter of the 12th century, during the reign of Přemysl Otakar I, either by the Czech Prince Vladislav I, later the Czech King Vladislaus II of Bohemia, or by ministerial officials to the Emperor Fridrich I Barbarosa.
The old romanesque castle comprised two towers, a church and a building standing on the site of the present Margrave’s House. The church stood beneath the present castle where St. Wenceslaus church is standing today. The other tower, no longer existent, stood to the north-east of the castle. Above all, the castle served as protection to the merchant’s path leading from Prague through Cheb and on to Plauen and Erfurt, but after the re-annexation by the Czech state it began functioning as a frontier fortress. By this time it became the new administrative centre of the region.
By the turn of the 13th century a settlement was built around the castle walls and later raised into a royal town. From the 1250s the castle was gradually enlarged and the formerly Romanesque building turned into a Gothic stronghold which was often visited by the members of the royal family.
Under the rule of Přemysl Otakar II a new fortification wall with half-cylindrical towers was constructed. Queen Eliška Přemyslovna used to hide herself in the castle with her children during the upheavals against John of Luxembourg as well as to protect herself against his anger.
The castle continued to be enlarged up to the 1420s and in 1434 it was mortgaged to chancellor Kašpar Slik by Sigismund of Luxembourg as a reward for his financial aid. Further reconstruction took place in the second half of the 15th century when the castle was turned into a representative ancestral seat under the administration of the House of Slik, which lasted for more than 100 years.
In 1621 the town was besieged by the Bavarians led by Tilly and after huge bombardment the town was forced to surrender and the Saxons had to leave. The town was then punished for disobedience by extensive repressive measures. This situation recurred again in 1631 when the burghers allowed the Saxons to enter and conquered the town. Swedish troops operating in Loket neighbourhood excluded the town from their attacks, but The Thirty Years’ War and the repressive measures by imperial officials brought great economic losses to the town of Loket.
In 1725 the castle was burned down and only the ground floor and the underground of the castle remained. In the beginning of the 19th century the Margrave’s House was then rebuilt and a museum of porcelain established.