With nearly 3 million visitors per year to its capital city alone, the Czech Republic certainly doesn’t disappoint with many beautiful places to visit. Day trips from Prague, the Czech Republic’s capital, are a common enterprise for tourists who are lucky enough to have several days to spare. Fortunately, there are a ton of incredible places to see near the city, but few rank as highly as the stunning castles dotting the countryside. The Czech Republic has one of the highest numbers of castles in Europe, and they range from medieval ruins to gorgeous country chateaus (Zámek). The Český Šternberk Castle is one of the most beautiful castles in the country, with a remarkable history that makes it a great day trip from Prague!
The Český Šternberk Castle
The Český Šternberk Castle (or Sternberg Castle in its original German name) is located about 45-60 minutes east of Prague in the direction of Brno. Founded in 1241, the Český Šternberk Castle was named in German based on the owner’s coat of arms (a star- Stern) and its location (a mountain- Berg). The Sternberg Castle has been held by the same family since its founding, which means that it’s now held by the 20th generation of the Sternberg family!
To visit the interiors of the castle, you’ll need to book on to a tour. Tours are available in Czech, English, German, Russian, and French, and written material can be provided in several other languages should your language not be included in this list. The tour brings you to the 2nd floor of the castle, which is situated above the living quarters of the Sternberg family. Zdeněk Sternberg, the current owner of the castle and descendent of the same Sternberg family that has owned the castle since the 13th century, still resides on the first floor. As the property is privately owned, the cost of maintaining the castle is subsidized by tourist visits to some of the historic rooms which still maintain their historic furnishings, art, and architecture.
The guides employed by the castle are excellent, and will do a good job of walking you through the rooms of the castle and explaining the history of the Sternberg family, as well as the historic context of the castle. The grand hall of the castle, the first room on the tour, speaks to the absolute regal-ness of the Sternberg family and its legacy. The Sternberg family was one of the most prominent aristocratic families in Czech history, and the remnants of their heritage can be found throughout the country. In Prague, only steps away from Prague Castle is the Šternberk Palace, which was once owned by the family but is now one of the many buildings of Prague’s national gallery. The Sternbergs were responsible for the creation of both the Czech National Museum and National Gallery, so we have much to thank them for in terms of the cultural heritage of Central Europe.
In addition to the beautiful interiors of the castle, it’s worth venturing to the Hladomorna, the south-facing bastion of the castle built in the 15th and 16th centuries. It’s now in relative ruins, but a climb to the top will give you a spectacular view over the landscape of the region.
How to visit the Český Šternberk Castle
Český Šternberk is only 57 km (35 miles) from Prague, so it’s an ideal location for a day trip outside of the city. The castle is situated on the bank of the Sazava River surrounded by hills and hiking trails, so the day trip can certainly be turned in to an overnight trip, too!
The easiest way to reach Český Šternberk is by renting a car from Prague. If you’re already in the city, check out the rental counters located at Hlavní nádraží, the main railway station. These are easy to get to from anywhere in the city center without having to trek out to the airport. The drive from Prague to Český Šternberk should take about an hour on the D1 motorway.
If renting a car isn’t feasible for you, you can also take the scenic route with a train from Prague. The way to Český Šternberk routes through Čerčany (only one change), and takes about an hour and 20 minutes. This is by far the cheapest option with train tickets costing about 115 CZK. While a little longer than driving, the train journey to central Bohemia will also give you stunning views of the Czech landscape, so it will definitely be worth it!
Once you arrive, you’ll have about a 20 minute walk along the river from the train station to get to the castle, where you’ll be rewarded with an incredible view of the castle perched on the hill from which it derives its name. Depending on the time of year, you should either call or e-mail in advance for a tour, or you’ll be able to join one throughout the day. Český Šternberk is both the name of the (small) town and castle, so if you have some time to wait before your tour, you can grab a snack at the on-site restaurant, or wander in to the town to enjoy the views by the river. For more information regarding opening hours and tours, visit the official website of the Český Šternberk Castle.