It would take many days to thoroughly explore and leisurely savor everything that the Castle Hill has to offer. And this wouldn’t even include the castle exhibition! Let’s go through a number of spots that you just can’t miss when visiting the festival.
TIP: Did you know that that Litomyšl Castle’s cellars are hiding a wax Heart for Václav Havel?
These majestic rooms with high vaulted ceilings impress visitors with their calming atmosphere, not at all reminiscent of dungeons. When Bedřich Smetana was born in Litomyšl, the cellars were used to store barrels of beer from the local brewery, where Bedřich’s father was brewmaster. These days, carefully selected wines from Moravian and Austrian vintners are aging here in bottles, reposing in an ideal climate. A glass of wine at the perfect temperature can make a tour of the cellars even more pleasant.
/ exhibition in the castle cellars
Olbram Zoubek donated a group of 80 sculptures to Litomyšl – a cross section of his life’s work. The collection, permanently located in the cellars, even contains unique pieces from his early creative period that cannot be seen anywhere else. And why here, exactly? Under totalitarianism, Olbram Zoubek was forbidden to create freely; he was ostracized after making the famous death mask of Jan Palach. With other artists “in exile”, he was banished to Litomyšl Castle for 17 full seasons to restore the sgraffito decorations. During this period, he married for the second time and became a Litomyšlan from Prague.
A Heart for V. H.
/ exhibition in the castle cellars
After traveling for many years, the artwork a Heart for Václav Havel has made its home in one of the smaller cellar rooms. It was cast from wax collected from the remains of candles that had been lit across the entire Republic in respect for this president who departed in his sleep before Christmas of 2011.
The authors of the two-meter tall open heart are Lukáš Gavlovský and Roman Švejda; the exhibition itself was designed by the architect Josef Pleskot. In 2018, the exhibition was supplemented with pocket mirrors donated by the public. The heart is reflected many times over in these mirrors, symbolizing the desire to return “more heart” to public affairs.
/ a visit to the Smetanas
“My father was said to have been in the courtyard when a girl ran up with the message that his son had been born. And here, the happy father was overwhelmed with joy and seized the girl, dancing with her around the courtyard. However, he also wanted his people to share this joy with him; therefore, he had a barrel of beer rolled out into the courtyard for his work crew, and dancing and singing more than a little joyfully, they welcomed the arrival of Bedřich Smetana into the world…” Bedřich Smetana was born as the first son but eleventh child of František Smetana, a brewmaster at Litomyšl Castle, on Fat Tuesday, March 2, 1824. The exhibition in his childhood home was opened exactly one hundred years later. It is furnished with period furniture as well as objects that belonged directly to the famous composer. His birthplace can be accessed by visitors through the ground floor of the former castle brewery from the first courtyard.
the Piarist church and dormitory
/ towers welcoming you from afar
The decoration of Alliprandi’s Baroque church was described by Alois Jirásek in his book, Philosophers’ Story. A students’ mass is held here each Sunday at 9 in the morning. Students from the local grammar school arrive directly through a special entrance leading from the Piarist dormitory building.
The dormitory building is still used by students to this day. This is where Litomyšl is fostering a new generation of talented restorers.
Under “red” communist times, the Piarist church suffered deep scars. Complete reconstruction was not possible; it was necessary to create some things from scratch. Today the church prides itself on how it sensitively blends the past with the present.
/ the Middle Ages underground
The building of the Regional Museum in Litomyšl is actually just as interesting as its collection. It was originally a Piarist grammar school and within these walls was where Alois Jirásek taught and composed his creative work. The building has been museum since 1928, and it was given its current form during its 2014 reconstruction according to a design by Josef Pleskot.
During the reconstruction, the architect faced an unexpected challenge. He needed to quickly adapt his design to significant archaeological findings in the area of planned ground floor addition. Medieval tiled paths and the remains of houses, ramparts, and gates were revealed and can now be admired by all the museum’s visitors.
the Red Tower
/ the Middle Ages aboveground
The last remains of fortifications from the end of the 15th century of Litomyšl’s former “Upper Town” – which bear the coat of arms of the Kostkas of Postupice – now serve as the Museum of Restoration and Historical Technologies. This has been made a facility of the Faculty of Restoration of the University of Pardubice in Litomyšl.
Due to its location, the 18-meter high Red Tower is hidden by the surrounding buildings, but it is literally only a few steps away from the castle. On the other hand, the tower offers beautiful views of the castle arcades as well as the Monastery Gardens. It is generally accessible to guests from mid-June until mid-September – from the end of the spring semester until the new semester begins in the fall.
/ Josef Váchal Museum
It is said that anyone who sleeps in a room painted by Josef Váchal will wake up a madman. A mystic, graphic artist, trained bookbinder, nephew of Mikoláš Aleš, and author of books, Josef Váchal is loved in Litomyšl primarily because of his unique otherworldly outlook on life. He was brought to Litomyšl by his patron, Josef Portman, whom Váchal renamed “Count Portmon” in his book Bloody Novel.
Otherwise, we learn everything fundamental about the Portmoneum in Bloody Novel – and even, for example, how the publishing house Paseka actually got its name. The Portmoneum – Josef Váchal Museum is a few meager steps from Castle Hill, on Ulice Terézy Novákové Street.
/ view from arcades
Městská obrazárna patří do sálů litomyšlského zámku již celé století. Prvorepublikové sbírky obrazů místních malířů se rozrostly o další poklady českého malířství do dnešního počtu přesahujícího dva tisíce uměleckých děl. Za vše hovoří zvučná jména autorů: Jan Zrzavý, Emil Filla, Josef Čapek, Václav Boštík, Josef Váchal, Max Švabinský, Julius Mařák, Antonín Dvořák, Josef Matička, Otokar Kubín, František Tichý, Ludmila Jandová, Bohdan Kopecký, Karel Šťastný, Viktor Faltis a další!
Většina autorů pochází z okolí Litomyšle či zde zanechala osobní stopu. Například Max Švabinský se ženil v místním kapitulním chrámu a obdivoval krásu schodiště, které k němu stoupá.