Sloup Castle: Bohemia’s Salt Trade Defense, Hermitage and Tourist Spot

Sloup Castle is a rock castle located in the northern part of the Czech Republic. The castle dates all the way back to the 14th century AD when the area it is in was part of the Kingdom of Bohemia.

Due to its strategic position, Sloup Castle was a formidable stronghold. Nevertheless, the castle did not serve this defensive function throughout its history, having undergone several transformations. Most recently, Sloup Castle was acquired by the House of Kinský, who turned the landmark into a tourist attraction.

The Historical Origins Of Sloup Castle

Sloup Castle is situated in the town of Sloup v Čechách (meaning “Sloup in Bohemia”), in Liberec, the northernmost part of Bohemia. The castle lies about 117.5 km from Prague.

Sloup Castle sits on top of a 33 m high sandstone rock column, providing its long-dead occupants with a commanding view of the surrounding alluvial valley. Incidentally, the word “sloup” means “column” in Czech, an apt description of the outcrop on which the castle stands.

Although Sloup Castle was founded during the Middle Ages, the rocky outcrop on which it was built was already occupied during the prehistoric period. The archaeological evidence from the site includes artifacts from the Globular Amphora culture, dating to the 3 rd millennium BC, the Únětice culture, the Lusatian culture, the Celts, and an ancient Germanic culture known as the Podmokelská culture.

In 1440 AD The Castle Becomes A Knight’s Seat Of Power

Apart from that, not much information about Sloup Castle between the 14 th century and the end of the Hussite Wars has been preserved. Instead, the next appearance of Sloup Castle in the historical records is in the 1440s AD, around a decade after the end of the Hussite Wars.

In 1440, the castle came under the control of Mikeš Pancír of Smojno, a knight who had distinguished himself during the Hussite Wars. On the one hand, he would provide information about the Hussites to the Lusatian League (an alliance of six towns in the Bohemian region of Upper Lusatia). On the other, he would carry out raids on the Lusatians. The conflict between Mikeš and the Lusatians continued after the end of the Hussite Wars.

loup Castle, located in northern Bohemia, just south of Zittau on this map, figured in the Hussite Wars, which lasted from 1419 to 1434 AD.
Sloup Castle: Sacked By The Swedes And Change Of Ownership

During the 16 th and 17 th centuries, the ownership of Sloup Castle changed hands several times. For most of the two centuries, Sloup Castle enjoyed a peaceful existence. In 1639, however, the castle was burned down by the Swedes, who were marching through Bohemia. This was one of the more significant events in the castle’s history during that period.

After its sacking, Sloup Castle was left to fall into ruins. The castle, however, was soon transformed into a sacred site, as it was donated to hermits. These hermits lived amongst the ruins of the castle until the second half of the 18 th century, when they were ordered by Joseph II, the Holy Roman Emperor, to leave. The remains of the Sloup v Cechach Hermitage, a tall tower, still stand on the top of the rock column.

Although the hermits were occupying the ruins of Sloup Castle, the property was actually owned by the House of Kinský. This is an ancient Czech noble family whose roots stretch all the way back to the 13 th century AD. Although the family lost power during the early 17 th century AD, they regained it by the end of that same century. In the early 18 th century AD, they came into possession of Sloup Castle. It was this family, who, after the hermits were ordered to leave, decided to turn the castle into a tourist attraction.

The coat of arms of House of Kinsky: 3 wolf teeth curved towards the top point of the shield.
The Ruins Of Sloup Castle: A Tourist Attraction Today

Although Sloup Castle is still referred to as a castle, its official website acknowledges that this is in fact a “catchphrase,” and one that is used mostly by tourists. Nevertheless, it is a very useful name, since most locals living in the surrounding area recognize it.

In reality, however, little has been done to restore the castle to its former glory, and hence it would be more appropriate to describe it as “ruins.” Although the castle is now empty, its external structures have been maintained for tourists to see.

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