Towering over the River Želetavka for centuries, Bitov Castle is one of the oldest and largest castles in Europe. The castle has changed shapes many times throughout its history due to different owners and it perfectly reflects the traces of each specific era. Bitov Castle is a true site of heritage for the Slavic culture in the world.
More than a thousand years ago, the region that is today’s Czech Republic belonged to the Moravians. Moravians were a tribe of Slavic descent and even today there are roughly 500,000 Moravians living in the Czech Republic. Quite possibly during the 8th or 9th centuries, they decided to build a defensive fort above the region’s river.
After building the fort, they also established a town right below the castle naming it “Bitov.” Two centuries later, the Přemyslid dynasty built a newer castle over the ruins of the former fort which became to be known as Bitov Castle. In the 13th and 14th centuries, the members of the house continuously developed the castle.
Due to the castle’s influence, the town of Bitov became a center of commerce and rest for the merchants of Eastern Europe. The oldest stone tower in the castle today belongs to these times. However, in the 14th century, the last of the Přemyslids died and the castle became the property of the Lichtenburgs.
While Bitov Castle had a Gothic style originally, in the 19th century, the new owners of the castle gave it a Baroque style. The castle’s current appearance is a result of this renovation. They also added gardens, a farm, and newer towers, and decorated the rooms in a very luxurious manner.
The stone tower that served as a defensive fort in Bitov Castle for the Přemyslid dynasty. It is one of the most well-preserved medieval structures in Europe.
Bitov Castle was home to tragedy as well. In the 20th century, the castle belonged to the Baron Haas Jr. The Baron was a lonely man and lived in solitude with his animals. He was especially interested in horses and dogs and had more than 200 dogs in his personal zoo. However, after World War 2, his lonely life was interrupted by the Czech officials who ordered him to move to Austria since he was a German.
Moreover, the officials did not even provide the Baron with transportation and asked him to walk all the way to Austria. Aside from being an old man, the Baron did not want to leave the castle and his animals behind. Feeling hopeless, the Baron committed suicide in 1945. Nearly 50 years later, his nephew placed a plaque honoring him on the grounds of Bitov Castle.