Český Krumlov - town history since 1622

Český Krumlov - Johann Christian zu Eggenberg, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.Matthias was replaced by Emperor Ferdinand II who in 1622 gave Krumlov to the Eggenbergs for their financial assistance in the struggle against the Czech estates. Although the Eggenbergs did not hold a historical relationship to Český Krumlov, in the less than one hundred years of their reign they managed to transform the castle into a magnificent Baroque aristocratic residence. Their love of art, especially music, raised Krumlov‘s status into a renowned center of social and artistic life. One of their most important contributions is the creation of the Castle Baroque Theatre and the expansion of the castle library.

Český Krumlov - Josef Adam zu Schwarzenberg, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.The Eggenbergs died out in 1719, and Český Krumlov‘s heritage found itself in the hands of the Schwarzenbergs. They already owned Hluboká and Třeboň by this time, and thus became the richest aristocratic family in the country. They carried out construction on Krumlov castle especially during the first century of their reign. This was the period of the reconstruction of the Baroque Theatre to the form as we know it today. It was also the time of the famous Lederer paintings in the Masquerade Hall, the Winter Riding School was erected, the Cloak Bridge was reconstructed, and the Bellarie summer house in the castle garden was built. In the 19th century, only some interior modifications were carried out. The last owner of the castle, Dr. Adolf Schwarzenberg, went into exile in 1939 and his property was occupied by the Nazis. In 1947 a special law (“Lex Schwarzenberg” – Act No. 143/1947 Coll.) transferred the castle as well as the rest of the Schwarzenberg‘s vast property into the ownership of the Czech State, and it was later nationalized.

JUDr. Adolf Schwarzenberg gave the second Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš one million Czech Crowns for the construction of border fortifications. This happened during Dr. Beneš‘ visit to Český Krumlov castle in 1937 (5. May). Even during the troubled times of the impending Second World War, Adolf Schwarzenberg made his anti-Nazi sentiments clear.

The development of production and industry during the 19th century left the historical old town basically untouched. One noticeable change to the town‘s medieval character was the destruction of most of the fortification walls, defensive towers and gates. Only one of these gates has been preserved, the Budějovice Gate.

Český Krumlov was characterized by the peaceful coexistence of the Czech and German populations until the rise of nationalism at the end of the 1930‘s. Following the Munich agreement, the town became part of the territory occupied by Germany and was renamed Krummau an der Moldau. On 7 May 1945, Krumlov was liberated by the U.S. Army. The forcibly displaced Czech inhabitants gradually returned, and the German population was evicted in 1945–46. This act fundamentally altered the ethnic composition of the town and inevitably brought a number of personal tragedies and injustices.

Over the post-war years, Český Krumlov saw a period of intense building activity. Its historical core, however, remained out of the center of interest, which on the one hand preserved its medieval character, but also caused considerable deterioration. The changes after 1989 and new opportunities for private enterprise have permitted the local population to transform their town into the 16th most beautiful historical place in the world – so termed by National Geographic magazine in 2008.