Bucket List Items #141 Karlštejn Castle
Karlštejn, Czech Republic
If you asked Dave he would say this was just another castle. If you asked me I would say every castle is unique. Sure, this wasn’t the most glamorous we’ve seen. It wasn’t extravagant and bejeweled, but that doesn’t make it any less special. The castle was founded in 1348 by the king of Bohemia Charles IV and was my first truly medieval castle experience. Well, technically not my first one, but this castle was how I would truly picture something from the time. It had the square just inside the castle walls, a proper guard post lining the walls (banners included), the stained-glass windows, etc. It would be the perfect filming location for a Robin Hood movie!
The castle itself hosts a modest exhibit throughout the rooms of artifacts and artwork, but it’s the experience that makes this worthwhile. We went in the summer, but I wish we had chosen to go in the off season. I can only imagine how magical it would be to sit in a watch tower and behold the Bohemian forest enveloped in fog. If I could do this over again I would go first thing in the morning and do exactly that. It’s just very peaceful. It’s no wonder the crown used this particular castle as a safekeep for the imperial crown jewels during the Hussite wars. It’s humble and easy to forget unless you’ve experienced it from inside the walls.
An important side note, and very serious recommendation is the horse drawn carriage. They pick up at the bottom of the hill and take you through the town to the front entrance. It’s a very pleasant ride and if you don’t jump on that carriage you’re going to have a significantly long walk uphill to the castle. However, the walk down is quite lovely and I would take that opportunity to explore the town. And, perhaps the most serious of all my Czech recommendations ever, is find the soft serve Zmrzlina ice cream vendors. They’re all over the Czech Republic and there are two you’ll come across walking through the tiny village. It’s just a brand of soft serve, much like what we have in the states. However, literally no soft serve I’ve ever had anywhere else even compares. Zmrzlina is just the Czech word for ice cream, but the machines say is big along the sides and there are usually only two flavors from one machine. Usually vanilla with something else. They’re swirled and two colors. I highly recommend the chocolate and vanilla mix, but all the flavors are yummy. JUST GET IT IF YOU SEE IT AND EAT EXTRA FOR ME! It’s the thing I miss the most about the Czech Republic. I dream about it.