The Grenadier

The larger-than-life statue of an Austrian grenadier is one of the first artistically conceived cast-iron sculptures in Bohemia. It is also one of the oldest examples of European art casting. The statue is made of hollow, thick-walled, French cast iron. It was cast in individual parts using a wooden model. Those parts were later joined together. The original form of the grenadier was created in 1756, when the first figures were cast in Strašice on the Zbiroh estate, east of Pilsen. They were ordered by the government of Maria Theresa for the military academy of Wiener Neustadt. The sculptures were about 2.5 m high, hollow and weighed 40 Viennese quintals (about 2240 kg) with a wall thickness of 60 mm to 60 cm, in some places even more. The origins of the in Strašice foundry date back to the 14th century. Foundry products had been produced here since the 17th century. The original sculptures initially adorned the corners of the fountain in the courtyard of Zbiroh Castle, the family seat of the Colloredo-Mannsfeld family. Between 1779 and 1805 they were brought to Wiener Neustadt, where they served as radiators in the stairwell of the Theresian Military Academy. In the middle of the 19th century, the sculptures were moved to the representative building of the Winter Riding School of the Military Academy, where they also stood during the bombing raids in 1945. Up to this date it is unknown what happened to them after that. The builder of the sculptures is also unknown. In 1890 another three grenadiers were cast in Strašice using the same model. Two of those sculptures were brought to Prague for the National Exhibition. The third sculpture was intended for Zbiroh Castle, as documents from that time show. One copy was loaned to Brno for the exhibition of “past and modern foundry art”. The sculpture survived World War II unscathed there. In the 1950s, it became part of the collection of the Technical Museum, that was getting built there. In 1983 the sculpture came to Slavkov Castle, and after another five years to a service station on the D1 highway near Rohlenka. At present, it is again located in Slavkov Castle. This statue is not colored. Another statue is located in the park in Holoubkov above the local Kovosvit factory and the third one is standing in the courtyard of Dobříš Castle. On the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the casting of the original sculptures, the Strašice Foundry decided to cast a new sculpture based on a preserved wooden model borrowed from the depot of the City Museum in Zbiroh. This statue now stands on the grounds of the foundry.

The Clock

The clockwork is built on a wooden base in a small room in the attic of the castle. On the top of the movement there is a large dial with baroque decoration. It has the original signature of the builder of the clock and a date written on it:

Ferdinant Londenßberger 1791. brag No 15

Ferdinand Lodensberger, the builder of this clock, was part the renowned Lodensberger family of watchmakers, who in the 18th century produced tower clocks at the highest level of blacksmithing.

The frame of this comparatively large movement is made of steel. On the bottom, at the point where the steel-clad rope drums are placed, it is almost twice as deep as the rest.

The White-Tailed Deer

Prince Josef II Colloredo-Mannsfeld had the white-tailed deer (Virginia deer) brought from North America to his territory in Bohemia around 1853. Besides Finland, the area around Dobříš is the only region in Europe where the white-tailed deer can be found.        

The distinctive feature of the white-tailed deer is its forward-facing antlers and the eponymous white tail (“frond”). The doe (female) weighs 40 – 90kg and does not have antlers, while the male weighs between 50 – 100kg and sheds its antlers between January and March.   

The summer coat of the deer is short and has a reddish-brown colour, whereas the winter coat is more of a grey-brown colour and longer than in the summer. The lower part of the head, neck and the abdomen is white like the tail, which is 15 to 30cm long with long hair.
When in danger, the deer jump up with all four of their legs and straighten their frond.

White-tailed deer like an environment where forests alternate with fields and meadows.

The rut of Virginia deer takes place in November, the gestation period lasts about 7 months and the doe gives birth to 1-2 cubs that have white spots on their backs and sides.

Like other members of the Cervidae family, white-tailed deer communicate with each other with their fronds.

The Muskrat

Prince Josef II. Colloredo-Mannsfeld brought six pairs of muskrats to Dobříš from a trip to North. From here they spread over all of the European continent.

The muskrat (lat. ondatra zibethicus) is an aquatic mammal, that lives in rivers, ponds and lakes. It builds its burrow on the banks, where it has between 5 and 14 cubs every year.

Muskrats are excellent swimmers and divers. They feed on fish, water plants, mollusks but also carrots, apples and nuts.

The average size of a muskrat is about 30 cm, but it is not unusual for them to grow larger than that. Their fur is brown on the back, the bottom of their bodies is more of a grey tone. Their tail is long and flat and serves as a rudder when swimming. There is a gland close to their genitals from which musk is secreted, to which the muskrat owes its name.

In the past muskrats were hunted for the fur and meat. Today they are no longer hunted in the Czech Republic.

The Writers‘ Bench

The bench dates back to the time when Dobříš Castle served as a work and leisure facility, the so-called Writers’ Home, for the members of the Czech Literature Fund after World War II. Writers stayed here in rooms that all looked the same. Those rooms were assigned to them with vouchers, The length of the stay usually ranged from a week to several months.

The writers did not only have access to the castle, but also to the parks, that were also accessible to the public. People from Dobříš were quite sceptical towards the writer, that lived in the castle. “There’s writers living in the castle now, it’s all downhill from here. They are partying there. Who knows what else is going on in there…“

During the writers’ era many famous personalities came to visit Dobříš Castle and stayed there for a short or a long time.

In the 1960’s for example:

  • Pablo Neruda
    Chilean poet and diplomat, Nobel laureate  (1971)
  • Jean-Paul Sartre
    French essayist, nominated for the Nobel Prize 1964 – denied
  • Jorge Amado
    Brazilian essayist, lived in Czechoslovakia from 1950 to 1952
  • E.A. Saudek
    interpreter (Shakespeare, Goethe)
  • Sergej Machonin
    critic, interpreter
  • Jan Otčenášek
    author (Občan Brych, Romeo and Juliet and darkness)
  • Bohuslav Březovský
    author, playwright
  • Josef Kainar
    poet, playwright, journalist
  • Karel Ptáčník
  • Josef Gončár
    architect, town planning – city of Hradec Králové

In the 1970’s:

  • Oldřich Daněk
    playwright, author, director
  • Oldřich Lipský
    director and production designer
  • Václav Vorlíček
    director, production designer, worked with M. Macourek
  • Miloš Macourek
    poet, playwright, production designer
  • Ladislav Smoljak
    director, actor
  • Zdeněk Svěrák
    actor, production designer

Václav Čtvrtek, who came up with the fairy tale of the gallant robber Rumcajs here around 1966, also lived in Dobříš with his parents. Most of the story about Rumcajs takes place in Jičín, the author’s birthplace, but only few people know that Václav Čtvrtek invented many details from the Řáholec Forest based on the landscape in the English Park of Dobříš castle.

The castle also housed the great travellers Jiří Hanzelka and Miroslav Zikmund, who completed their first three-volume book about their journey through Africa, “Africa of dreams and reality”, here, although they were not members of the Communist Writers’ Union.

Jan Drda, a Czech writer and playwright who was a member of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and held important cultural and political positions after February 1948, stayed in the writers’ home at Dobříš Castle the longest. From 1949 he was the chairman of the Writers’ Association. He lived in a small apartment on the first floor in the southeastern part of the castle with his family. He rehabilitated himself in the eyes of the critics with a fairytale play, “Dalskabáty – The Sinful Village or The Forgotten Devil” (1959).

The so-called Prague Spring in August 1968 was a severe trauma for Drda. To him it felt like the greatest betrayal, to which he reacted with an uncompromising condemnation. After 1969, he fell out of favour with the regime. On November 28th 1970, his heart failed at the wheel of his car at an intersection in Dobříš and he died on the spot. His funeral was attended by about 2.000 people. Thus, his funeral in the Church of the Holy Cross in Dobříš became a silent protest against the occupying forces.

The highlight of the writers’ work on Dobříš Castle was an international scientific conference on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the death of the famous Czech writer Karel Čapek. The event took place from the 6th to the 7th December 1988. However, it was the last major event of its kind with international participation at Dobříš Castle. The revolutionary year of 1989 came, and by the time it was over, everything had changed.

Ginkgo Biloba

In the courtyard of the castle there is large, rare ginkgo biloba, a type of tree that belongs to the conifers. It originally comes from south-eastern China and it is known for its healing effects, especially for blood circulation.

It is a representative of a tree family that originated 180 million years ago and is also known as a “living fossil”. The ginkgo biloba was mainly known as an artificially bred tree around temples in Japan.

Dobříš Castle ...

…a matter of the heart


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Dobříš Castle

ZÁMEK DOBŘÍŠ, 263 01 Dobříš
+420 318 521 240

Hotel Château Dobříš

+420 722 710 488
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Colloredo-Mannsfeld spol. s r.o.

263 01 Dobříš č.p. 1 | IČ: 02406781 | DIČ: CZ02406781