The castle was established in the mid-13th century by Zdislav of Šternberk. The first account of Šternberk Castle comes from the year 1269. At the end of the 14th century the castle was substantially expanded by Albert of Šternberk, an advisor to Charles IV who subsequently served as the Bishop of Schwerin, the Archbishop of Magdeburk, and the Bishop of Litomyšl. The castle chapel, among others, dates from this period.
The castle was occupied by Hussites in 1430-1432 during the period of the Hussite Wars. The castle changed ownership several times during the 15th century. After the death of Peter of Šternberk the castle was first owned by the Lords of Kravaře, followed by Albrecht Kostka of Postupice; in 1480 the castle was taken over by the Berk family of Dubá and Lípa.
In 1538 the castle and the town of Šternberk suffered from a great fire. Following the blaze Jan Václav of Dubá and Lípa organized the Renaissance reconstruction of the castle, and new grounds beneath the castle were also built at this time. In 1560 the castle as well as the town became the property of the Silesian Prince of Minstrberk, and in 1647 the castle was inherited by the Duke of Württemberg. Swedish troops occupied the castle in 1643 – 1650. In 1678 the castle was struck by a second fire, during which the upper part of the cylindrical tower was destroyed. In 1693 the Liechtenstein family assumed ownership of the castle. Prince Jan Adam of Liechtenstein considered a Baroque reconstruction of the damaged castle, but in the end these plans were not pursued.
During the 18th and 19th century the castle became increasingly dilapidated, and the total demise of the structure was prevented by comprehensive repairs begun by Prince Jan II of Liechtenstein in 1883. The castle was reconstructed into today's historicized appearance, and several new features were added such as the palace staircase. The renovations also included internal plumbing, hot-air heating, and bathrooms. The reconstruction was conducted on plans by Viennese architect K.G. Kayser, with contributions by Liechtenstein architect G. von Neumann. The reconstruction was completed in 1890 and in 1907-1909 a natural landscape park designed by A. Esche was added to the castle grounds. In 1945 Šternberk Castle became property of the state.
The castle grounds are composed of the castle itself, which includes the castle tower (2nd half of the 13th century), the castle chapel (end of the 14th century), the palace (originally Gothic, peripheral walls from the 2nd half of the 13th century, Renaissance modifications from the 1530’s), fortifications (fragment of the Gothic castle walls, preserved modifications from around 1526), the residential western wing (1545-1560) with partitions (from the 1st half of the 16th century) including entrance gate structures and the adjacent single-floor transverse wing, the building on the west side of the grounds, the building of the former clock museum on the eastern side of the grounds, the building with the entrance staircase to the castle palace, and the castle park (1907-1909).
The castle structure
The complex of individual buildings adjacent to the castle structure has a rectangular arrangement and demarcates the internal castle courtyard. Two-story residential buildings are located on the south and west ends (on the south end with an open three-part arcade on the ground floor), with spaces such as the bishop’s bedroom with a timbered ceiling, a dining room, the Hall of Knights with Italian sculptural fragments, the square Visitation Hall with stuccoed vaulting and a glass arcade representing a distinct Renaissance feature in the castle. On the north side of the castle stands a cylindrical tower (one of the oldest parts of the castle, the torso of the original tower damaged by fire in the 17th century, is built from quarry stone and has walls that are 400 cm deep); located on the east side are the Gothic remains of the castle which are connected to the south part of the castle by a new staircase. Situated in the southwest section is the castle chapel with an unplastered façade and an alcove of quarry stone.
Individual room ands other castle spaces feature original elements that were supplemented during reconstruction work at the end of the 19th century (for example, painted Renaissance carved ceilings in the new lookout room in the castle tower, old stained-glass windows in the Visitation Hall, and rows of added coats of arms). Various styles of furniture and works of art in individual spaces originating in large part from the art collections of Prince Jan II of Liechtenstein were brought to the castle during the latest reconstruction. The castle collections also include furniture and art works transferred from defunct castle and chateaux.
Several parts of Šternberk Castle (Gothic, Renaissance) represent authentic examples of Moravian castle architecture. It is also impossible to overlook the tremendous artistic and historical cultural value of the collections located in the castle. The present appearance of the castle documents the romanticizing trend in cultural monument renovation prominent at the end of the 19th century.
Additional points of interest.
The castle chapel.
The single-nave Gothic structure dates to the end of the 14th century and features cross vaulting in two fields, fragments of the original wall paintings, and a collection of sculptures and paintings of Moravian and Central European origin.
Renaissance tiled stoves.
The tiled stoves found in individual rooms are of various styles and were brought and installed at the castle during the reconstructions at the end of the 19th century.
The Renaissance portal (entrance to the Hall of Knights from the modern corridor).
Built from various types of marble, with dimensions of 360 x 220 cm and decorated with ornamentation of cherub busts, vases, and plant motifs, dates to the turn of the 16th century. Renaissance ceiling (1st floor of the southwest castle wing). The painted coffered ceiling documents the original decoration of castle rooms.
Text: Jindřich Garčic
Kaňák,B.,Koudela,M..Mracký,J.: Šternberk through Words and Pictures. Šternberk 1996
Maliva, J.: Artistic Renaissance Monuments in Šternberk. Šternberk 2004
List of Cultural Monument Structures in the Olomouc District. Olomouc 1997
Sight-seeing tour I. II. III.
April and October, weekends and holidays 10,00 – 17,00
May, June to September, daily except Monday 10,00 – 17,00
July, August daily except Monday 10,00 – 18,00