Top 10 list of the most-visited Czech castles reveals some surprises

Many well-known Czech castles and monuments have seen a drastic drop in attendance while some lesser-knowns see more visitors than ever before.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 20.10.2021 17:09:00 (updated on 21.10.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

The Covid pandemic again shortened to visiting season for state-run castles, chateaux, and other monuments. In total, visits reached 3.1 million, but this was 2 million fewer than before the pandemic and also fewer than 2020. Revenues were also down.

The main season for visiting monuments started in June 2021, while under normal circumstances, it starts in April. Compared to 2020, when the season also started about two months late, this year's attendance fell by 450,000 people, or by almost 13 percent, according to figures from the National Heritage Institute (NPÚ).

Some NPÚ monuments with year-round operations were open in 2020 from January to mid-March. This year the winter season could not take place due to the lockdown.

Compared to 2019, before the pandemic started, the decline is even higher. By the end of October 2019 over 5 million people had visited the monuments, or 38 percent more than this year.

The most popular sites, such as Lednice, Hluboká, and Český Krumlov, have seen numbers drop by half in some cases compared to pre-pandemic times. This was in large part due to the lack of foreign tourists, who prefer the well-known sites, according to NPÚ head Naďa Goryczkova.

As was also the case last year, the popularity of castle grounds, parks, and gardens has been growing. Places with exterior tours, such as Krakovec, Nový Hrádek u Lukova, or Velhartice, experienced more visitors this year than in 2019. Castle ruins have also been very popular.

Several normally overlooked monuments have been rediscovered by tourists during the pandemic. The chateaux at Krásný Dvůr, Janovice u Rýmařova, and Nebílovy, the Kozel hunting lodge, and Lipnice castle saw an increase in attendance, according to the NPÚ.

Monuments with new routes and circuits also saw boosts in attendance. These included the chateaux at Litomyšl, Vranov nad Dyjí, and Veltrusy, or Veveří Castle.

Sites restored with European money were also successful, such as chateaux at Slatiňany and Vimperk, and Pernštejn castle. At the beginning of the season, Pernštejn opened the restored lord's garden and was the main center of this year's Castle and Chateau Night.

Pernštejn castle. (Photo: NPÚ)
Pernštejn castle. (Photo: NPÚ)

The number of visitors to Pernštejn rose so much that it became the jumper of the year and entered the top 10 list of most-visited monuments managed by the NPÚ. Other jumpers include Točník and Žebrák castles, and the gardens under Prague Castle (which are overseen separately from the Castle itself).

Renovation projects at Vimperk Chateau and Kunětická hora Castle were completed with European money this year, and the farm at Selský dvůr u Matoušů was also restored and newly opened to the public.

Some 21 restoration projects have been completed from state resources, another 10 will be completed by the end of the year, including Uherčice Chateau and Šternberk Castle. A total of 12 projects were launched this year.

The NPÚ, a state-funded organization under the Czech Culture Ministry, oversees many but not all of the Czech Republic’s historical sites. Some castles, for example, have been returned to heirs of the original owners, and others such as Prague Castle are administered separately. These are not included in the NPÚ’s visitation statistics.

In connection with the shorter season and the decline in attendance, there was also a drop in revenues. Revenues until the end of September this year amount to almost CZK 400 million, or CZK 155 million less than on the same date in 2019. The drop in revenues for the whole of last year amounted to over CZK 190 million, and almost CZK 160 million to cover losses was received by the NPÚ from the Ministry of Culture.

10 most-visited NPÚ sites:

2021 (to Oct. 15)Attendance2020 (to Oct. 12)Attendance2019 (to Sept. 30)Attendance
Hluboka135000Český Krumlov190800Český Krumlov328000
Český Krumlov134000Hluboka181800Hluboka256000
Pernštejn 95000Valtice134300Karlštejn184000
Veveří 75000Bečov 73800Bouzov101000

Source:  NPÚ

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