Přimda Castle

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Přimda Castle
General view of the castle from the south.

General view of the castle from the south.

Alternative name (s): Pfraumberg Castle
Creation time : around 1126
Conservation status: ruin
Standing position : Royal castle
Place: Přimda
Geographical location 49 ° 40 ′ 48 ″  N , 12 ° 40 ′ 1 ″  E Coordinates: 49 ° 40 ′ 48 ″  N , 12 ° 40 ′ 1 ″  E
Height: 837  m nm
Přimda Castle (Czech Republic)
Přimda Castle

The ruins of the Romanesque castle Přimda ( German  castle Pfraumberg ) are located on the high, widely visible mountain Přimda ( 848  m nm ) northwest of the small town of the same name in western Bohemia near the border with Bavaria . The residential tower , built in the 20s of the 12th century, together with the Prague Castle, is one of the oldest stone castles in Bohemia .

After the castle had served as a royal border fortification and several times as a prison for members of the ruling house and other high-ranking people in the 12th and 13th centuries, the Roman-German emperor and important Bohemian noble families changed hands several times in the 14th to 16th centuries from. It has not been inhabited since the end of the 16th century and so left to decay. The complex has been in the possession of the Nowohradsky-Kolowrat family since 1675 - with an interruption due to the expropriation of the family by the National Socialists after the occupation of the Sudetenland in 1938 and during the period of real socialism . In the middle of the 19th century, the picturesque castle ruins were "rediscovered" and have since been extensively renovated and restored several times. Construction studies and several small excavation campaigns were carried out in the castle area, the results of which made it possible to more precisely determine the time when some parts of the castle were built and their function.

The freely accessible ruin is a popular hiking and excursion destination. From the town of Přimda below the castle, which is a few kilometers away from the D5 motorway , the continuation of the federal motorway 6 from Nuremberg via the Waidhaus border crossing and on to Plzeň and Prague, hiking trails with some short but steep climbs lead to the castle. The small settlement of Mílov is located south of the castle hill .



North wall on the 1st floor with passage to the risalit, window and the remains of the chimney
Cheek of the Romanesque chimney

The important Bohemian chronicler Cosmas of Prague mentioned in his Chronica Boemorum for the year 1121 that “some Germans had built a castle on a steep cliff within the borders of Bohemia in the forest through which you get to the village of Bela” . However, Cosmas does not give a name and only states that this castle was on the way to Bělá, which in turn is mostly equated with today's Bělá nad Radbuzou (German white brine ). When the Bohemian Duke Vladislav I found out about it, he moved against this castle and conquered it. He wanted to punish the intruders severely, but Count Albrecht, who most likely belonged to the East Bavarian noble family von Bogen , stood up for them. It is often assumed that Diepold III. von Vohburg (often incorrectly Diepold II.), Margrave of the Bavarian Northern Gau , stood behind the founding of the castle without any evidence.

The Czech historian and politician František Palacký equated this castle with Přimda in his History of Bohemia, which was published in German from 1836 and in Czech from 1848 . “Without a doubt” , the Czech castle researcher August Sedláček also saw the first mention of Přimda in the mention of Cosmas. He was again followed by Dobroslava Menclová . This view then largely prevailed and is also represented by today's castle researchers, especially Tomáš Durdík . In 2008, however, the building researcher and monument conservator Vladislav Razím expressed doubts about this equation, invoking older voices, which, however, had largely remained unheard. He again pointed out that there was no evidence of the identification of the castle mentioned in the Cosmas Chronicle with the Romanesque complex and that it was better to look for it southwest on the Plattenberg ( Velký Zvon ), for which the name Turmberg attests in the 17th century is. However, there are no remains of a fortification there. The first reliable mention of the Přimda Castle came only a few years later. In his continuation of the Cosmas Chronicle, the so-called Vyšehrad Canon mentioned in 1126 that the fortifications of Přimda, Görlitz and Tachov were rebuilt at this time .

These construction activities were part of a large-scale fortification program on the borders of Bohemia. This was promoted by Duke Soběslav I , who had meanwhile become the successor of his brother Vladislav, who had died in 1125, and who was widely known as a military leader. In the same context, Glatz ( Kladsko in Czech ), which belongs to Bohemia and whose castle should secure the border with Poland, was also mentioned in 1129 . Already in 1126 Soběslav I had an army of the German King Lothar III. von Süpplingenburg defeated in the battle of Chlumec and captured the king. For his release, Soběslav was enfeoffed by Lothar with Bohemia. Although Cosmas explicitly mentions a reconstruction, Vladislav Razím would like to see Duke Soběslav I as the builder of the stone tower of the Přimda Castle, since the archaeological excavations did not reveal any evidence of a previous building. He draws comparisons to the two towers of the main gate of Prague Castle, built after 1235. According to Razím, the construction of the castle could have continued until the reign of Vladislav II , who was appointed duke in 1140 and crowned the first Bohemian king in 1158 .

In the realm of legends, on the other hand, belongs the information that is still sometimes rumored today (for example on the information signs on the castle), according to which a castle that was later abandoned was founded at this point as early as 925. The 1000th anniversary celebrations in Přimda in 1925, which attracted around 20,000 visitors and made the alleged founding year widespread, shows how effective such unchecked stories can be taken from older chronicles.

Border castle and prison in the 12th and 13th centuries

For the year 1150 a lower prison in the tower is explicitly mentioned in the annals of Vincentius, the chaplain of Bishop Daniel I of Prague . Přimda is one of the first safely documented castles to be used as a prison. The most famous inmate, the later Bohemian Duke Soběslav II , managed to escape to the court of the Swabian Duke Friedrich Barbarossa after two years . Some friends of his had killed the castellan of the castle earlier that night . After his return to Bohemia in 1161, Soběslav II was imprisoned again and again arrested at the Přimda Castle until 1173, when he had to be released at the behest of Frederick I, who was now crowned emperor.

In the 13th century, the castle belonged due to its location on the border and near a major trade route from Prague through Pilsen (German: Pilsen ) to Nuremberg still the most important royal castles and the Castellan of Přimda to the most important officials under the rule of Premyslids . In 1233, 1238 and 1257 a burgrave is named each .

Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Times

Due to its location on the border with Bavaria, the castle retained its importance even after the Přemyslids died out. However, Johann von Böhmen , who got into financial difficulties, pledged the castle to his chamberlain and marshal Wilhelm Hase von Waldeck before 1318 and to his nephew after his death two years later. Shortly after 1320, the king bought the castle back in order to hand it over to his confidante, the judge of Prague's Old Town, Jakub Frenclín. The castle was expanded under him. A written source from 1336 shows that the castle was surrounded by a stone wall with a wooden battlement. Tensions in the empire and the enmity between Ludwig the Bavarian and King Johann led to the unsuccessful attempt to conquer the important border castle in the same year. The occupation defended the castle, although Burgrave Frenclín had moved to Austria with a hundred armed men - allegedly 28 armored riders and 75 lightly armed fighters - to support his king in the fight against Ludwig the Bavarian. However, the outer bailey and the city were burned.

In 1344 Charles IV bought the castle back. In the Maiestas Carolina , which he had drafted as a code of law for the Kingdom of Bohemia from 1351 to 1354, Přimda was named by name. Like the other property of the crown, the castle was not to be sold or pledged in future. Shortly thereafter, however, Charles IV gave it twice as a pledge. His son Wenceslaus IV pawned it again several times to important Bohemian noble families, for example in 1394 to Heinrich III. von Rosenberg , 1395 to 1406 to Oldřich Zajíc von Hasenburg and 1406 to 1418 to Boresch XIV. von Riesenburg . During this time robber barons settled in the castle . Tisto, who was appointed burgrave, was one of the most famous. When they no longer spared royal property, Vinzenz von Wartenberg led an army campaign against them on March 3, 1416 on behalf of the king. He besieged the castle, but could not take it. However, he captured about 30 defenders from the entourage of the Lords of Riesenburg in the outer bailey, who were executed in Prague on March 13th. The resistance of the Riesenburgs lasted, however, until they were defeated in a second such action in 1418 and the burgrave Tisto had to surrender to the royal siege army. The loss of Přimda forced Boresch von Riesenburg to make peace with the king.

In 1419 Nicholas I, the poor, from Aujest and Lobkowitz bought Přimda and Most (German Brüx ) from Emperor Sigismund on the condition that the castle was always open to the king. He ceded this property to the king as early as 1420 in exchange for the crown rule Frauenberg ( Hluboká nad Vltavou Castle ). He gave them to the knight Heinrich, called Zito von Gibian, and his son Lvík von Gibian (z Jivjan) , who held them during the Hussite Wars . While the Hussites were able to take the castle in 1427, the Kalixtiners , a party within the Hussite movement, did not succeed again two years later, as Heinrich had called up a strong garrison. To do this, the attackers burned the small town under the castle and two nearby villages on June 16, 1429.

Ruins of the castle in the middle of the 19th century (view from the southwest). Engraving after a drawing by Franz Alexander Heber from 1848.

Under the rule of Georg von Podebrads , the castle was given to the Lords of Schwamberg as a permanent pledge in 1454 . They tried several times to buy the castle and the manor, but the ruler did not give them permission. A branch of the large aristocratic family lived in the castle until 1592 and had several modifications and extensions carried out during this time. However, the Romanesque complex could no longer meet the increased demands.

In 1592 the castle came back into the possession of the Bohemian king for a short time. Just a year later, Emperor Rudolf II , who needed money for the war against the Turks , allowed the Přimda estate to be sold. However, since no buyer could be found for the entire estate, the property was divided. The sale in 1596 meant the temporary end of the rule and its center. Most of the property came to aristocratic families in the area, but also to smaller buyers such as the glass master Paul Schürer , who bought a glassworks and a forest near Waldheim (Zahájí) . For the castle, which slowly fell into disrepair after the abandonment of residential use, there was initially no buyer, whereupon the town of Přimda purchased the castle in order to temporarily free itself from bondage . Soon afterwards, however, nobles again took turns in rapid ownership of the castle. In 1675, Johann Wenzel von Kolowrat on Nový Hrad (Jan Václav Novohradský z Kolowrat) bought the remnants of the manor along with the castle. The castle remained in the family's possession until it was expropriated by the National Socialists . After the end of the communist government, the property was restituted .

In 1711 lightning struck the tower and caused the entire south-west corner to collapse.

Restorations and excavations since the 19th century

State at the end of the 19th century (view from the southwest)
Overall plan of the castle with the excavation probes up to 2007 (after Razím 2008, p. 40 Fig. 4)

In the course of the Romantic era , the picturesque castle ruins were "rediscovered" and the first security measures were taken as early as the middle of the 19th century. Further extensive backups and restorations followed in the 1920s and in the 1960s and 70s. Several meters of rubble were also cleared from the outside and inside. The passage into the interior of the tower, which collapsed at an unknown time, has since been about two meters above the surface of the earth. The castle was last extensively renovated at the beginning of this century.

In the course of the restoration work, the ground was tampered with several times, and small archaeological excavations were occasionally carried out, as early as 1879 or 1880 at the instigation of Count Filip von Kolowrat and in 1922/23. The earthworks to prepare the access routes for the heavy construction machinery in 1968 and the large-scale excavations and terrain changes in 1971 at the north and east walls were not archaeologically accompanied. It was not until 1973 that Tomáš Durdík was able to bring in two small probes in the interior and in the south in front of the risalit. In 1985, Lenka Krušinová carried out an excavation with participants in a "škola v přírodě" ("School in Nature", roughly comparable to a school camp ) at the southern end of the rocky ridge. The most recent archaeological investigation was carried out by Petr Sokol and Tomáš Wizovský in 2001 and 2002 as part of the current renovation. Small probes were created in several places and mortar samples were taken from around 20 different places on the residential tower and the remaining remains of the wall. Since the mortar used in the Romanesque construction phase differs significantly from that of the 16th and 20th centuries, several parts of the wall on the tower and in the area, the age of which was disputed, could be roughly classified in terms of time. The fragments of the first gate, those of the surrounding wall on the access road to the castle and the few remains of the wall in the far south of the castle belong to the early modern period . In contrast, the western castle wall is likely to have already existed in the Romanesque period.

The small-scale exploratory excavations, the results of which have so far only been available as manuscripts or published in preliminary reports, and large-scale disturbances of the archaeological substance have meant that the possibilities of archeology to provide information have been rather limited compared to building research.

Building description

Floor plan of the ground floor and the first floor of the residential tower (based on Razím 2008, p. 43 Fig. 10)
North-east corner with windows and chimney remains
Toilet facility in the north wall of the risalit

The best preserved part of the castle is an almost square residential tower with an edge length of around 17 meters. A risalit is added to the tower in the west . The building material consists of granite blocks that are bricked up in storage . Today the tower has three storeys, but its original height and the shape of its roof are not known. The beamed ceilings that were not preserved sat on the clearly recognizable wall recesses. The floors were probably originally connected to one another by wooden stairs or stairs that have not been preserved within the walls. The ground floor only had a small window for lighting and no entrance at ground level.

The first floor served as the main living room. The windows in the north and east walls and the remains of a fireplace in the north-east corner bear witness to this . Access may have taken place at the point where the entrance is today. However, the entire southwest corner had collapsed and was only rebuilt during the restoration in the 20th century, so that no statements can be made on this. In the north-west corner a narrow corridor leads into the risalit. The barrel-vaulted room on the upper floor probably served as the entrance to the main living area. A staircase leading up from the south can be assumed, but cannot be occupied. A small room leads off the corridor to the north, which was mostly interpreted as the remains of a staircase running through the wall. Vladislav Razím, building researcher at the Czech National Institute for the Preservation of Monuments, recently recognized this as a toilet facility for the main living area.

Another lavishly designed toilet is on the ground floor of the risalit. The narrow, high and flat-roofed room also has an original wide niche with a raised parapet in the east wall. Evidently it had no access from the outside and could therefore only be reached from the upper floor with the help of ladders or a wooden staircase. All this led Vladislav Razím to consider looking for the prison for members of the royal family and other high-ranking nobles on the ground floor of the risalit, which is mentioned several times in the written sources from 1150 onwards. So far, the room has only been addressed as a difficult-to-access side room for residential use in the tower.

Further buildings were erected on the rocky ridge facing south and the small flat area in the southwest. However, only a few remains of the wall remain from them.

Position within the castle architecture of Europe

The Keep of Rochester Castle

The Přimda Castle, built in 1126, is not only one of the oldest stone castles in Bohemia, but also occupies a special position within Europe. The only comparable building in Bohemia so far is the aforementioned main gate of Prague Castle. In the other Premyslid castle complexes from the 12th century, such as in Žatec , Olomouc , Hradec Králové or Mělník , there is hardly any knowledge of the Romanesque building design due to the more recent overprints. Only the probably also around 1125 by Diepold III. Founded by Vohburg Cheb Castle (Czech Chebský hrad ), the center of this time not for the Principality of Bohemia , but the Bavarian Nordgau belonging Cheb region , is better known thanks to archaeological investigations. Here, the remains of two octagonal towers with a diameter of eight and ten meters and a stone wall almost two meters wide have been exposed. As the Neuchâtel near Freyburg an der Unstrut from around 1090, which can be easily compared with Eger, shows that the residential buildings in Eger that have not been preserved are likely to have been located elsewhere.

However, several similar residential towers from around 1100 and the first half of the 12th century in the area of ​​present-day Germany can be placed next to Přimda Castle, for example at Flossenbürg Castle . Even if much smaller, there are undoubtedly relationships with the French donjons and English keeps .

A closer analogy for the building solution with the upstream risalit as access is not yet known. Vladislav Razím referred in this context to the keep of Rochester Castle built around 1127 by the Archbishop of Canterbury William de Corbeil . A smaller annex is attached to the keep with an entrance on the first floor, which was accessible from the surrounding area via a defensive staircase. The main tower with its elaborately designed interior was accessed from this upper floor. The lower storey of the Rochester Castle annex, which has its own lavatory and can be reached via a narrow staircase, was sometimes assumed to be a suitable prison.


  • Petr Sokol, Tomáš Wizovský: Hrad Přimda - archeologický výzkum, ikonografická analýza a rozbor malt (Přimda Castle - investigation, iconographic and mortar analysis) . In: Castellologica bohemica . No. 9, 2004, pp. 335-348.
  • Tomáš Durdík: Přimda. The oldest stone castle in Bohemia . In: New research on early castle building. (= Research on castles and palaces . Volume 9). Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich et al. 2006, ISBN 3-422-06569-5 , pp. 95-103.
  • Tomáš Durdík: Hrad Přimda. (Vlastivědná knihovnička Společnosti přátel starožitností volume 14). Unicornis, Prague et al. 2007, ISBN 978-80-86204-18-5 .
  • Vladislav Razím: The Přimda Castle in Western Bohemia and the possibilities of its interpretation . In: Castles and Palaces . Vol. 53, No. 4, 2013, ISSN  0007-6201 , pp. 209-218.
  • Vladislav Razím: K významu a stavební podobě románského hradu Přimda (On the importance and structure of the Romanesque castle Přimda). In: Průzkumy památek . Issue 1, 2008, pp. 29–56 (Czech summary and download option for the entire article for registered users: Pruzkumy Pamatek ).

Web links

Commons : Přimda Castle  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Eodem anno quidam ex Teutonicis infra terminos Boemorum in silva, ad quam itur per villam Bela, in prerupta rupe edificant castrum. Quod audiens dux Wladizlaus acceptis tribus scaris ex electis militibus repente ex inproviso irruens obtinuit castrum, ubi in primo accessu missis de muro sagittis vulnerati sunt, non tamen ad mortem, duo mulites ducis, Oldalricus filius Wacemil et Olen filius Borsa. Illos autem Teutonicos, qui erant in castro capti, nisi comes Albertus superveniens multis precibus et innata sibi sagacitate liberasset, procul dubio iam dux in eadem silva omnes supendi iusserat. - Berthold Bretholz (ed.): The Chronicle of the Bohemians of Cosmas of Prague . MGH SS rer. Germ. 6. Berlin 1923, p. 220 lines 7-18. Online edition: Digital Library - Munich Digitization Center .
  2. Eodem tempore quasdam munitiones Bohemi reaedificaverunt, quae slavice Przimda, Yzcorelik, Tachow appelantur. - Rudolf Köpke: Cosmae chronica Boemorum. In: Georg Heinrich Pertz (Ed.): Chronica et annales aevi Salici . Monumenta Germaniae Historica 11. Scriptores 9. Hahn-Verlag, Hanover 1851, unaltered reprint Hiersemann-Verlag, Stuttgart 1983, ISBN 3-7772-6313-3 , pp. 1–209, 843–846, here p. 133, line 29 -30. Online edition: Digital Library - Munich Digitization Center  ; Josef Emler (Ed.): Cosmae Chronicon Boemorum cum continuatoribus (Fontes rerum Bohemicarum T. 2). Prague 1874, reprint Georg Olms Verlag, Hildesheim et al. 2004, ISBN 3-487-12666-4 , p. 205 lines 4-6. Online edition: Filozofický ústav AV
  3. A current summary of the discussion about the origin of the castle by Jan Klápšte: Nobility, castle and rule - an eternally controversial problem in Czech medieval studies? In: nobility, castle and rule on the "border". Austria and Bohemia. Contributions to the interdisciplinary and cross-border conference in Freistadt, Upper Austria, from May 26th to 28th, 2011 , (Studies on the cultural history of Upper Austria 34), ed. by Klaus Birngruber, Christa Schmid, Linz 2012, pp. 225–238, here p. 323ff. online (PDF; 2.8 MB) ( Memento of the original from September 21, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , supplemented by the commentary by Karel Nováček, Komentář ke studii Jana Klápště "Nobility, castle and lordship - an eternally controversial problem in Czech Medieval Studies?" online (PDF; 39 kB) ( Memento of the original from September 21, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / praha5.ff.cuni.cz  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / praha5.ff.cuni.cz
  4. … quam ab nobilibus suis honestissime Prage susceptus filium Zobezlai in castrum Primda firmissime custodiendum transmittit. Josef Emler (Ed.): Cosmae Chronicon Boemorum cum continuatoribus (Fontes rerum Bohemicarum T. 2). Prague 1874, reprint Georg Olms Verlag, Hildesheim et al. 2004, ISBN 3-487-12666-4 , p. 419 lines 3-6. - Anno dominice incarnationis MCL filius Zobezlai, a suis quibusdam fautoribus castellano Bernardo de nocte interfecto et in inferiorem turris carcerem miserabiliter detruso, de carcere Prinda euasit. ibid. p. 419 lines 33-37. Online edition: Filozofický ústav AV
  5. … et in castro munitissimo Prinda sub districtissima custodia multo tempore macerandus retruditur . ibid. p. 268, lines 34-36. Online edition: Filozofický ústav AV -… inde in castellum Prindam deducitur, Conrado Stvrm, cuidam carnifici, custodiendus committitur . ibid. p. 452 lines 32-34. Online edition: Filozofický ústav AV - Erat Oalricus, filius antiqui Zobezlai, frater iunioris Z [obeslai], in curia imperatoris cum suis profugis, qui habens et in Boemia multos occulte sibi fauentes, satagebat omni conatuesemaris de gratia cibiesemaris de gratia cibiesemetrare de gratia tum fratri suo Z [obezlao] liberationem, qui iam fere tredecim et prius tribus annis uinculatus tenebatur in Prinda. - ibid. P. 465 lines 7-14. Online edition: Filozofický ústav AV
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on August 28, 2009 .