After spending some time in Prague, I decided to head out to a castle that I remembered from my childhood: Karlstejn. This massive fortress towers over the surrounding countryside, perched high on a hill. It is named after Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, one of the Czech Republic's most famous historical figures. The castle is an imposing sight, with tall white walls and a blue stone roof that challenges all who see it. While parts of the castle were taken during different sieges over the years (a siege is when one army surrounds another and tries to defeat it through both fighting and starvation), the tall keep never fell to an invader.
While some castles are filled with beautiful decorations, they are all built with battle in mind. Karlstejn Castle has walls that are 30 feet thick in some places to keep out invaders. Its highest tower stretches up over 175 feet into the sky. Meanwhile, the well is over 200 feet deep. A watch was kept around-the-clock to make sure that no one surprised the castle garrison with an attack. Living in a castle was not fun, but it was very safe. Walking through Karlstejn, I imagined what it might have been like to live there. The stone walls must get very cold in winter.
The castle is now almost 700 years old. It was first built in 1348 in order to protect the crown jewels of the Holy Roman Empire and the Bohemian kingdom. Over the years, more and more fortifications were added to the castle. Inside, the king and his retinue lived in safety. Beautiful decorations filled a good deal of the rooms. Charles IV was a devout Catholic, and like many rulers at the time, he spent huge amounts of money on the castle's chapels. His own private chapel area is filled with gold, silver, an jewels, as well as incredible paintings of great saints.
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Adam De Gree
I am a senior in college, studying philosophy, and am visiting family in the Czech Republic and travelling and studying in Europe and Asia.