Castles to open at night for Hradozámecká noc

Candlelight tours, fire shows, concerts and fencing will take place across the country

Some 80 castles and chateaus will be open with special programs on the evening of Aug. 27. There are three spots in Prague participating, as well as 19 in the Central Bohemia region including Karlštejn.

The seventh Hradozámecká noc, sponsored by the National Monument Office (NPÚ), Ministry of Culture and Czech Television, will bring special night programs to each venue. There will be costumed tours, knights and lots of candle light, plus theatrical and musical presentations. Most tours will require Czech language skills, and space for some venues is limited so reservations are recommended. Some events are free, but not all. Interior tours in particular still require tickets in most cases.

In Prague, the gardens beneath Prague Castle will be open. At the northeast edge of the city, Chvalský zámek will have a program with guided tours and candle light. Fairytale characters Meluzínka, the fairy Ohnivka and elf Matýsek will lead the tours. There is a competition and a chamber of secrets. The chateau currently has an exhibition called Mercury is Not Only a Planet. Chvalský zámek is near metro stop Černý Most. It dates to the 15th century and has had Renaissance and Baroque renovations.

The final Prague location is Slovanka, a villa from the early 1700s located in Prague 5–Hlubočepy in the southern part of the city. It promises a relaxed evening with candles on the terrace. The villa had at one point been a winery and now has an outdoor bar and refreshment stand.

The biggest events will be outside of the city, where the bulk of the NPÚ treasures are. Karlštejn is the official center of Hradozámecká noc. Tours will have an admission fee, but the program outside is free. Emperor Charles IV, now 700 years old, will preside over the events. The music group Krless, which does medieval and Renaissance music will perform and the film A Night at Karlštejn will be shown. Other items include historical fencing, a fire show and singer Pavel Vítek. Apparently there will also be fireworks for the first time in the castle's history.

Hrad Konopiště, another castle near Prague, will have tours, theatrical presentations, some outdoor refreshments and events for children. Hrad Křivoklát, also not too far from Prague, will have medieval music and dancing (with a snake), unusual tours, a large screen projection, fencing and a fire show.

Other participating spots in Central Bohemia include zámek Březnice, hrad Český Šternberk, zámek Dobříš, zámek Hořovice, hrad Krakovec, zámek Loučeň, zámek Mnichovo Hradiště, zámek Mníšek pod Brdy, zámek Nelahozeves, zámek Radim, klášter Sázava, zámek Stránov, hrad Točník, zámek Zruč nad Sázavou and zámek Žleby.

South Bohemia will have events at 11 sites including the charming water chateau zámek Červená Lhota and the impressive if overly romanticized zámek Hluboká nad Vltavou.

In West Bohemia, the lovely ruin of hrad Rabí will have night tours, and seven other venues in that region will participate.

Duchcov in North Bohemia will celebrate Casanova and his women. The famed lover spent the end of his life in the chateau there. Zámek Frýdlant has candlelight tours and hrad Valdštejn has 19th century dance music and tours. More than two dozen more places in Northern and Eastern Bohemia will be offering some night programs.

Heading into Moravia, along with tours at many castles and chateaus, there is a special program at Tugendhat villa in Brno. The UNESCO World Heritage Site, a work of modern architecture, has tours and a concert.

For more information including links to each castle, visit www.npu.cz (CZ).

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