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Hradec Silver Museum and Medieval Silver Mine

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The first mention of the Hradek fortress (Czech Republic, Kutna Hora) and its owner Germane de Castro dates back to 1312. The fortress was built even before the founding of the city of Kutna Hora. Later, this wooden fortress became part of the structures created to strengthen the city line. The Hradek fortress underwent many changes until it was rebuilt into a stone palace, in which the royal favorites often stayed.

In the XIV - XV centuries. the fortress underwent significant reconstruction. Outside, Hradec was made in the Gothic style, inside - in the Renaissance style.

Over the history of its existence, the building has changed many owners. In 1490, Hradek was acquired by Jan Smiszek, a well-known Czech businessman and official. Not being a noble family, Smishek received the title of aristocrat thanks to his active participation in charity work, in financing the construction of the Holy Trinity and St. Barbara Cathedrals. Smiszek located a silver ore smelting plant in Hradec. Engaged in illegal business, Jan made quite a large profit, which he spent on the reconstruction of the building in the spirit of the time.

In the XVII century, the building acquires a new owner, which turns Hradek into a butcher shop, a beer house and a bakery. Later, a Jesuit seminary is located here, during the Second World War - the police.

From the middle of the twentieth century to the present, Hradec is a regional museum of silver. The building retains Renaissance-style ceilings, halls with Gothic vaults, and even wall paintings created before 1504. The Hradec Silver Museum (Czech Republic, Kutna Hora) has several permanent exhibits, among which special attention is paid to metallurgy and mining . Visitors to the Hradec Silver Museum in the Czech Republic have the opportunity to see a medieval mine, mountain lakes flooded with crystal water, and take part in the coin minting process. Here, in the halls of the museum, there is a real trave - a special mechanism for transporting ore and water, which was delivered to the collection of the Kutnaya Gora silver museum from Jáchymov. With the help of such a machine, several thousand tons of copper and silver were mined in Hradec. The employees of the silver museum are ready to satisfy the most demanding tourist, giving him an unforgettable tour through the mine passages of the silver route. Visitors, dressed in the clothes of miners of that time, awaits an incredible adventure in a medieval mine.

The story of the “little castle”

In the annals of the Czech Republic, Hradeck was first mentioned in 1312. But his story began long before the appearance of the city, i.e. even before the silver rush. Initially, it was a wooden fortress for the protection of the Vrhlitsy river valley. During the construction of Kutna Hora, the fortress became part of the fortress wall of the city. The stone palace, the enclosed courtyard and the tower were built only at the beginning of the XIV century. New transformations of Gradek began at the end of the 15th century.

The medieval fortress turned into a magnificent palace of the family of industrialist Michael Prekla. In 1490, Gradeck changed his owner. It was bought by Jan Smishek from Vrhovisht. He acquired his fortune thanks to silver, which he stole from the sovereign and smelted in the cellars of the palace. He gave the palace a luxurious and aristocratic look.

The decoration of the residence includes symbols of its kind - a white unicorn. They can be found on wall murals and as individual elements in the architecture of the building. The floor of the hall, which is lined with a decorative border, attracts attention. Two valuable Renaissance ceilings, halls with late Gothic rib arches and a splendidly decorated interior with a number of beautiful sculptures are still preserved.

In the chapel of St. Wenceslas survived the original frescoes of the period up to 1504. Paintings and murals can be seen today. They depict the evangelists, the Czech saints of the intercessor and the owner Jan Smiszek with his wife.

In the XVII century. Gradeka's importance begins to decline. The widow of Zbytek Libshteinsky from Kolovrat became illegally engaged in trade here. She owned a butcher shop, a bakery, and poured beer. The roar of animals in the slaughter and the drunken songs of the miners did not make the castle aristocratic.

In 1686, the Jesuits bought Hradec and organized a seminary and gymnasium there. In 1912 there was a pedagogical school. During the occupation, during World War II, the police settled in the castle.

Photo and description

The small castle, which is called Hradec, was built in Kutná Hora before the XIV century from wood and was supposed to protect the inhabitants of the town from the slightest troubles coming from outside. Hradek was erected over the river and did not have a high tower, as it was a simple small fortress, not claiming the proud title of an ancestral nest. The first mention of him we meet in 1312, in the same chronicles the name of its owner, Herman de Castro, was also indicated. What this noble man did was unknown to us.

Only in the XIV-XV centuries, the castle undergoes reconstruction, as a result of which the wooden fortress turns into a Gothic stone palace. Hradec reached its greatest prosperity under Jan Smishek - a very wealthy man who in 30 years has gone from a simple carpenter to an aristocrat. Rumor had it that he robbed his king and secretly smelted silver in his own kitchen. Be that as it may, that he invested considerable funds in the repair of Gradek. The small castle with him became the dwelling of a real nobleman.

On the coat of arms of Smishek a white unicorn was depicted. It is not surprising that we find drawings of this mythical animal both on the facade and in the interiors of the castle.

Under Smiszek, a castle chapel was built, decorated with expensive paintings and sculptures. Some of them have survived to the present day.

The following owners were not so respectful of Gradek. Everyone was surpassed by a certain lady, Libstein, who was an ordinary merchant who turned the castle into a butcher shop and slaughterhouse. Then Hradec was the property of the Jesuits.

Nowadays, the Silver Museum operates here, in which a real medieval mine is open.

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