If you visit West Bohemia, stop at the medieval castle and royal town of Loket. The imposing castle towers on a granite rock over the Ohře River, which encircles it on three sides. To get to the castle and the picturesque town around it, you must cross a spectacular, eye-catching stone bridge.
➜ Where is Loket Castle
The beautiful castle and town of Loket are situated on the edge of the Slavkov Forest in a pristine landscape covered with green woods.
In September of 2022, on my way from the charming spa resort of Karlovy Vary, I dropped by and spent about three hours exploring the area, eating lunch at a local restaurant, and touring the castle.
Loket is also a great tip for a day trip from Prague!
Loket can be reached in under twenty minutes when driving from Karlovy Vary. There's a large, charged parking lot just before the bridge's entrance, which is where I left my car.
Some parking spaces are right in the town square, but you would miss the walk across the access bridge where you get the best photos of the castle.
➜ Stony bridge
A solid stone bridge provides the most convenient access to both the castle and the old town. This is because the Ohře River flows around the castle in an elbow-shaped curve (elbow means "loket" in the Czech language), which gave the castle its name.
With each stride across the bridge, the castle draws closer and closer. The bridge is an excellent location for photographing the castle in order to keep a wonderful moment or to share on social media. Don't pass up this chance!
➜ Royal Castle Loket
A short alley at the bridge's end leads to the picturesque old square, where you turn left and continue up towards the castle.
The Romanesque castle was founded in the second half of the 12th century to guard the surrounding area. Two centuries later, the Czech Queen Elisabeth of Premyslid was imprisoned here with her young son Wenceslas, who later became the most famous Czech king and Roman emperor, known as Charles IV.
In the 19th century, Loket Castle became a municipal prison, which is still reflected in the castle dungeons, which you can see during the tour.
Loket is a popular tourist destination for all lovers of European medieval history.
➜ How to best enjoy the castle tour
There are two ways to visit the castle; either as a guided tour or on your own.
I am delighted to advise the second option. You pay a reduced entrance cost at the ticket office and receive a paper sheet with a brief history of the castle and individual sites worth seeing here.
Each highlight in the castle is also labeled with a description in Czech, German, and English.
- Take a tour of the torture chambers in castle basements if you're courageous enough!
- If you like art, I highly recommend visiting the chamber with the porcelain collection of exceptional quality (follow the map with the castle plan), including Art Deco vases and special spa cups with spouts used for drinking mineral water in Bohemian spa towns. You will find really beautiful pieces here!
- Climb the stairs up to the Romanesque tower and enjoy breathtaking views of the old town center below the castle, the surrounding forests, and the Ohře River.
One of the rooms of Loket Castle has a meteorite on display in its exhibit. There is no other meteorite in the world with as long of recorded history as this one, a cosmic stone that has been talked about since the 14th century.
Local legend has it that one of the castle's keepers behaved so cruelly that he was turned into a black stone after his death. Which stone this is, you can probably guess!
Depending on how long you want to admire each exhibit, it will take you about an hour and a half to walk through the entire castle.
The castle is open to visitors all year round, but opening hours vary from month to month. The last tourists enter the castle a half hour before closing time, so plan ahead of time to avoid being stuck at the castle gates!
Check the current visiting hours on the castle's official website: Hrad Loket
➜ Medieval Town
After an exciting tour through the castle, you will definitely get hungry. Walk down from the castle into the town and have lunch in one of the many local restaurants. I ate at Atmosfera Restaurant, which I can happily recommend.
I am sure you will be more enthusiastic after lunch to explore the city's architecture. The old houses with colorful plaster jammed close to each other will attract your eye, and it's absolutely worth snapping a few shots of them.
Note also a beautiful plague column with a sculpture of the Holy Trinity from the 18th century, located near Loket's baroque town hall on the T. G. Masaryk square.
Walk down to the town walls, from where you have an impressive view down to the Ohře River, twisting around the castle on three sides.
➜ Fun facts
- The famous German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe had his 74th birthday party in the town of Loket. There's some spicy gossip attached to this day. It was here that Goethe proposed to the 19-year-old Ulrika von Lewetzov, his great love, but she turned him down.
- In 2006, enchanting scenes from the famous Casino Royale, starring Daniel Craig, aka James Bond, were filmed in the medieval town center. Mathis is having lunch, explaining how he had the local police chief, bribed by Le Chiffre, arrested when James Bond happens to meet him. Behind Mathis in the film is a recognizable Czech sign "Bílý kůň" (White Horse), belonging to the hotel of that name on the square in Loket. The hotel still exists, so if you're a fan of Bond films, be sure to take a look around this iconic yellow building!
MY TIP: Visit Kadaň, a former royal town nearby!
Leave a Reply