Sunday, November 17, 2013

Loket Castle

The history of the town of Loket
At the beginning of the 13th century, Loket, a royal castle was built on a landmark promontory within the Ohře River bend. It used to be called the "Key to the Czech Kingdom". Soon after, a small town, first mentioned in 1288, arose below the castle. In the early 15th century the royal town was fortified and turned into an important focal point of the Czech Crown. In the course of the 19th century, the town became famous for its local porcelain factory. However, industrial production was located in the surrounding towns. The town regained its former fame in the time of beginning tourism bloom, when the local area of great natural beauty and numerous historical monuments became increasingly popular with holidaymakers and romantics.
Attractions of the town of Loket
The most visited historical monument in the town is Loket Romanesque castle from the early 13th century. In the days of the House of Luxembourg, the castle served as a temporary residence of members of the royal family. During the Thirty Year War it was conquered and plundered by Swedish troops. The abandoned castle burnt down in 1725, and was rebuilt into a regional jail in 1822. In the late 20th century, the castle underwent a complete reconstruction and was subsequently open to the public. The dominant feature of the castle is a massive square tower. The gallery on its top offers a magnificent view of the town of Loket and the Ohře River valley. The castle museum features an exhibition of products from local factories, weapons, and an archaeology exhibition. Several floors of cold and damp dungeons with a torture demonstration are hidden in the underground. Below the castle stands a late Gothic parish church of St. Wenceslas with Baroque features. It was built after a fire in 1473. Not far from Loket Baroque town hall in the square you can find a magnificent Baroque column with a sculpture of the Holy Trinity with a triangular ground plan by sculptor Johann Karl Stülp from 1719. Another tourist attraction of the town is a family brewery known as Saint Florian, founded in 2006, which resumes the tradition of beer brewing in Loket. In a romantic setting of the space below the castle lies a unique natural amphitheatre hosting various cultural events, theatre and opera performances, concerts and festivals, in front of the exquisite scenery of the lighted castle looming high above the Ohře River.The small town of Loket, situated within the Slavkov Forest Protected Landscape Area, is surrounded by beautiful countryside and as such serves as a starting point of several marked tourist routes. The most popular trail will lead you from Loket through a romantic valley of the Ohře River past a protected granite rock city known as the Svatoš Rocks all the way to Karlovy Vary. The whole valley is only accessible to pedestrians and cyclists and therefore is a favourite destination for walks and relaxation. You can rent a canoe or raft in one of Loket boat rentals and go down the river through its deep canyon. 

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