The Habsburgs – at Home in the Czech Lands as well

1. 1. 2024 až 31. 12. 2024

In its 14th year, the National Heritage Institute´s project is entitled “In the Footsteps of Aristocratic Families: The Habsburgs – at Home in the Czech Lands as well” and will present to the public how the Habsburgs lived in Bohemia and Moravia in the period from the 18th to the 20th centuries and how they adapted their inherited or acquired residences to their taste and pastimes. From a historic perspective, the project will focus on members of the dynasty who lived in Bohemia and Moravia for an extended time and had their base and home there. The main sites of this year´s project are Ploskovice Castle, Zákupy Castle and Konopiště Castle.

Did you know?

“In the Footsteps of Aristocratic Families” is a project implemented by the National Heritage Institute in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture as well as other research and memory institutions since 2011. 

The project is aimed at researching and presenting the legacy of aristocratic families in the Lands of the Bohemian Crown whose former residences are administered by the National Heritage Institute. Every year, the project focuses on an aristocratic family or a specific topic associated with nobility. 

The idea to implement the project came into existence in 2010 during the preparation of the exhibition  “House of Rosenberg – a Bohemian Aristocratic Family and its Journey through History”. The exhibition, which took place at the Wallenstein Riding School in Prague in 2011, was part of the Rosenberg Year and the first exhibition within the project “In the Footsteps of Aristocratic Families”. In its second year (2012) the project focused on the House of Pernstein. The Year of French Culture followed the year after.

The most important achievement of this year´s project is a reinstallation of the piano nobile in Ploskovice Castle. The current installation dates back to the 1960s. The renovation is aimed at rehabilitating the original function and decoration of all rooms from the years 1852–1853 as they were furnished for the former Emperor Ferdinand V and his wife Maria Anna. The rooms on the first floor will correspond to their original form, offering a dignified presentation of the private interiors of high-ranking members of the Habsburg dynasty. In addition to ceiling paintings by noted Czech painter Josef Navrátil, the installation will include newly-restored furniture as well as wallpaper and upholstery manufactured according to the original design. The furniture will be situated in its original places as documented by historical sources that provide information on the appearance and layout of the rooms in the second half of the 19th century. The visitor season at Ploskovice Castle will start at the beginning of the summer school holidays.

The project also includes installations in three rooms that have been newly added to the winter tour route at Zákupy Castle. Second Rococo paintings from the beginning of the 1850s, made by the renowned painter Josef Navrátil and his assistants, were discovered underneath the modern wall and ceiling paint from the period after 1918. Information on the use of the first floor at the time when Zákupy Castle served as a summer residence of the abdicating Austrian Emperor and last crowned Bohemian King Ferdinand the Benevolent was the basis for furnishing the rooms. One of them is designed as a bedroom and another as a drawing room of landgravine Theresa of Fürstenberg, who was the preceptor of Empress Maria Anna Carolina, the wife of Ferdinand the Benevolent. The third room is furnished as a guest room for the archbishop of Olomouc and cardinal Friedrich of Fürstenberg, who was a frequent and welcome guest of the pious imperial couple in the third quarter of the 19th century.

From April to November 2024, Konopiště Castle will offer a series of guided evening tours focussing on the most significant Habsburgs. During an impressive walk through centuries the visitors will learn about the destinies of famous people who were guests at the castle or even owned it. The castle interiors will present many unique historical items including personal belongings of the family of Franz Ferdinand d'Este. The route will lead through chambers that are not normally open to the public.

A specialised publication on Ploskovice Castle and Zákupy Castle will be published as part of the project. Konopiště Castle will be the main venue of Castle Night, which will take place in August. This year´s project will include a cycle of lectures, extraordinary guided tours of former Habsburg residences, exhibitions, concerts and programmes for children in monuments across the Czech Republic.

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Selection from the event calendar

See our future events

3, 17 April; 1, 15, 29 May; 12, 26 June; 10, 24 July; 7, 21 August; 4, 18 September; 2, 16, 30 October; 13, 27 November, Konopiště Castle

Guided evening tour of Konopiště Castle “The Habsburgs – at Home in the Czech Lands as well”

The guided evening tour of the castle is dedicated to the most significant Habsburgs who visited or owned Konopiště. It is an impressive walk through the centuries and destinies of famous figures. The visitors will be able to see many unique historical items, including personal belongings, curiosities from different period styles as well as from chambers that are not normally open to the public.

1 May – 28 October, Hradec nad Moravicí Castle

Exhibition “The Habsburg and Lichnowsky dynasties"

An exhibition that is part of the main tour route will focus on the historical links between the House of Lichnowsky and the House of Habsburg. 

28 June, Ploskovice Castle

Grand opening of the new tour route of Ploskovice Castle

The summer residence of the former Emperor Ferdinand V and his wife Maria Anna was used by the imperial couple for the first time in June 1854. Ten rooms in the castle´s piano nobile were restored in line with their period functions and appearance. The preserved ceiling paintings by Josef Navrátil are now complemented by wallpaper and textiles with original designs. Visitors will experience a tour with guides dressed in period costumes.

July – October, Ploskovice Castle

The exhibition “God Save Franz the Emperor… Habsburg Memorials in the Ústí Region” maps the phenomenon of Habsburg memorials in the memorial culture of the 19th and 20th centuries. 

It presents memorials dedicated to Josef II as well as war and jubilee memorials in the Ústí region.  A major part of these memorials irreversibly vanished in the period from 1919 to 1923. The exhibition describes the circumstances under which these memorials were created, their later destinies, transformations (e.g. to the memorials of H. Kudlich, F. Schubert or to the Great War memorials) and in many cases their dramatic end in the first years of the post-war Czechoslovakia (Teplice, Žatec, Chomutov etc.). This is a topic that has not been fully researched and documented. The exhibition at Ploskovice Castle was prepared by the territorial unit in Ústí nad Labem.

24 August, Konopiště Castle

Castle Night will take place on 24 August this year. Dozens of castles, chateaux and other monuments across the Czech Republic will remain open after dusk and offer visitors unique experiences such as untraditional tours and an evening programme full of stories, music and theatre.

Konopiště Castle will be the main venue of the 2024 Castle Night. It is one of the major sites of this year´s project run by the National Heritage Museum “In the Footsteps of Aristocratic Families: The Habsburgs – at Home in the Czech Lands as well”. Castle Night will offer a rich programme at Konopiště Castle.

Until 29 September, Silesian Museum (Historical Exhibition Building)

The exhibition “Joining Forces: The Habsburgs and the Silesian Capital Opava”

situated in the prestigious rooms of the Historical Exhibition Building, formerly the Emperor Franz Joseph´s Museum of Arts and Crafts, will include unique exhibits and present the links of the Habsburg Emperors to the former Silesian capital Opava and to Austrian Silesia, which was part of the autonomous crown lands of the Danube monarchy. The heart of the exhibition will be monumental portraits of imperial couples Franz I with Carolina Augusta and Franz Joseph I with Elisabeth of Bavaria. The first pair of paintings was commissioned for the State House in Opava by the estates on the occasion of diplomatic negotiations of pan-European significance – the Opava Congress taking place in 1820. In addition, official state visits of Habsburg monarchs to Opava will be presented, both during the Opava Congress and throughout the 19th century. During his first visit to Opava and Silesia in 1851, Emperor Franz Joseph I participated in a ceremonial shooting organised by the local shooters´ association. In memory of this event, the shooters from Opava kept the target rifle with an engraved inscription on its barrel testifying to the monarch´s excellent shooting skills as well as a memorial book with the emperor´s signature and a quill in an etui which the emperor used to sign the memorial book. These preserved artefacts will also be presented at the exhibition. In 1880, the emperor paid a second visit to Opava. A unique photo documentation of festive arches and other decorations of the town as well as a heraldic decoration of the State House have been preserved from this event. The presentation will include various exhibits. Visitors will also be introduced to a selection of the most significant nobilitation certificates from the collection of the Regional Archives in Opava and orders awarded by Franz Joseph I. One of the highlights of the exhibition will be the original of a well-known portrait painting of the young Emperor Franz Joseph I by Antonín Mánes, which has been reproduced numerous times.

Curators of the exhibition: Ondřej Haničák – Karel Müller. Collaborating institutions: Regional Archives in Opava, State District Archives in Opava, Hradec nad Moravicí Castle

Until 31 October, Náměšť nad Oslavou Castle

Traces of Habsburgs at Náměšť

The exhibition and guided tours will present the career of the counts of Haugwitz at the court, in particular in the second half of the 18th century. In that period, Friedrich Wilhelm Haugwitz held the office of Maria Theresa´s chancellor and was in contact with other members of the Habsburg dynasty. The visit paid by Franz Ferdinand d´Este to Náměšť nad Oslavou will be mentioned. He participated there in the grand opening of the shooting range and in the shooting of pigeons 10 days prior to his assassination in Sarajevo. The exhibition will also present period photographs from the visit of Franz Ferdinand d´Este to Náměšť and his telegraph expressing his thanks.


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