Ctěnice Chateau Presents Itself
Ctěnice village is situated about 10 km northeast of the historical centre of Prague, in an area which has been settled from the earliest times. In the land registry, the village falls within Vinoř village whose part it was for a short time in the 16th century. When Vinoř joined Prague 9 in 1974, Ctěnice was embodied in the capital as well.
In 1993, the chateau, adjacent facilities, and park passed to the city of Prague; between 1997 and 2004 the compound was reconstructed. The Prague Information Service was running the compound from 1995 to 2011, administering the chateau and the original facilities today known as the Carriage House, Riding Hall, Granary, “drábovna” (Warden’s House), hotel, park, and Garden Centre. Beginning 1 July 2012, Ctěnice Chateau has been run by the City of Prague Museum. There are three lessees in the compound: Ctěnice Horse Riding Club, Ctěnice Garden Centre, and Ctěnice Chateau Hotel with a restaurant and café.
The City of Prague Museum gave a new meaning to the compound – to present traditional folk culture and crafts. Unfortunately, no original inventory has survived, and permanent exhibitions have been installed in the chateau rooms. A unique exhibition Crafts in Guilds. History of Prague Craftsmen’s Association from the Middle Ages to the Present dedicated to the history of Prague guilds and presenting the museum’s collection opened on the first floor on 27 May 2014. Shortly before, in 2013, the permanent exhibitions Ctěnice Chateau. History, Building Development and Reconstruction and History of Vinoř. From Prehistoric Times to the 20th Century opened on the ground floor. A newly refurbished ceremony room and five small exhibition halls for short-term exhibitions can be accessed from the courtyard. Situated to the right of the Ctěnice compound main entrance, the first floor of the granary houses the museum’s administrative department, while the ground floor is used for exhibitions. The Carriage House is used for social events and arts and crafts workshops; this well-appointed facility is also suitable for short-time rentals.
The park and chateau with its farming facilities is enclosed by a massive stone wall with entrance pillar gateways and wooden gates on the southeast; on the west, the wall stretches between the granaries. The chateau, park, and other facilities have been designated as historic monuments.
History of Ctěnice Owners
The origin of the name Ctěnice (village of the Ctěn people) remains unclear; it is derived from a similar proper name such as Cstibor, Čstmír, Cstirad, etc.
Today’s name – Ctěnice – first appeared in the 16th century, yet other names like Scinice (1396), Stenice (1654), Stienetitz (1720) and Čtěnice (19th century) also appeared in records.
The earliest record about Ctěnice, which was mentioned in the name of Sulislav of Ctimice (Zulisaus de Cztimicz) in the foundation charter of the Order of the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star in 1235, is quite ambiguous. The historian August Sedláček assumed that it referred to Čimice village located nearby. On top of it, there are doubts about the charter authenticity, although it is known from a 14th century copy, and therefore it might be veracious in essence.
The privilege of Pope Gregory X of 1273 may also be regarded as a source of Ctěnice history where a settlement called Stenick is mentioned as the goods of Strahov Monastery. After the mid-14th century, a fortress was built in Ctěnice as evidenced by a written record about its sale in 1372. In 1396, a predicate “of Ctěnice” was mentioned in records. As it emerges from these recordings, there was a manor in Ctěnice village back then which was part of a quite dense network of small fortified residences of wealthy Prague burghers.
In the early 15th century, Ctěnice appeared on the list of catholic estates. Prague municipality entrusted Martin Zumberger with the administration of Ctěnice Fortress; allegedly, he wanted to yield the fortress to enemies in 1427.
At the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries, Ctěnice was possessed by the Hrzáns of Harasov, most likely from 1502 when Václav Hrzán of Harasov was documented as the Ctěnice first owner. He died in 1520, and his estates were divided among his heirs. Prior to 1565, the underage Adam Hrzán of Harasov inherited Ctěnice, but his uncle Václav administered the property on his behalf. Adam was not satisfied with his guardian’s administration and requested a survey from the Land Tablet Office. The 1565 records describe ruined farming facilities and a damaged fortress. In 1568, Adam registered his inherited property in the Land Tables and sold Ctěnice shortly after, in 1572, to Petr Myška of Žlunice. However, the latter sold Ctěnice Fortress and Meierhof (manor farm) to Oldřich Hostakovský of Arklebice in 1578.
During the Thirty Years’ War, Ctěnice was most likely not abandoned. The contract of sale of 1652, according to which Rudolf Maximilian, Count of Waldstein, sold Ctěnice to Jan Antonín Losy, Free Lord Losinthal, states that he sold the chateau along with the farming yard, stables, blacksmith’s workshop, and pheasantry. The Losinthals arrived in Bohemia from South Tyrol at the end of the Thirty Years’ War, and they might have recognised the importance of the small Ctěnice domain for its close proximity to the capital. When Adam Filip Losy died childless in 1781, disputes over his heritage were stirred up even among his distant relatives. Finally, the entire domain came into possession of Josef Mikuláš Windischgrätz.
The Ctěnice domain was the smallest part of the vast possessions of Josef Mikuláš, Count Windischrätz. After his death in 1802, his youngest son inherited Ctěnice; however, as early as 1803, his guardian Leopoldina, Countess Windischgrätz, sold it to the Donáts couple, the burghers of Prague. Similar to other estates near Prague at that time, Ctěnice often changed owners for speculation reasons while the price of the estate grew. The chamberlain and imperial councillor, Johann Prokop Hartmann of Klarstein, (1808–1820) and Count František Antonín Desfours (from 1820) retained the Ctěnice domain for the longest time. When the latter died, the chateau passed to his daughter Aloisie Desfours, a canon and assistant of the Institute of Noblewomen of Saint Angels in the New Town of Prague, who died in 1847. The privileged Viennese industrialist, merchant, and banker, Wilhelm Alexander Ritter von Schöller (1805–1886) acquired the chateau from the last will executors, buying it along with nearby Čakovice. A sugar refinery was built in Čakovice which was connected with the North Bohemian Railway in 1872 by a railway siding system. The Schöller & Co. Vienna retained Ctěnice until 1918; during the First Czechoslovak Republic the company split into two parts. Ctěnice belonged to the Prague joint-stock company Schöller & Co. while the Viennese joint-stock company kept Čakovice. After the Second World War, the Schöllers’ property was nationalised. The former Čakovice sugar refinery along with Ctěnice was included in the main administration of refineries of the ministry of the food industry. The chateau premises were used for flats.
The detailed list of all Ctěnice owners acquired from available records is published in the chapter History of the Ctěnice Domain.
Ctěnice Chateau Building History
The location of today’s Ctěnice Chateau appears to have compiled with the earliest fortress site which was cut into the sandstone rock. The precise origin remains unknown. The fortress was built on a pentagonal floor plan, by the left tributary of today’s Vinoř Brook which was a source of the artificially built castle moat separating the fortress on the rock from the valley. A falling bridge, later replaced by a brickwork bridge span, crossed the moat. A palace with a dominant prismatic tower with a gate formed the main part of the fortress. It is an exceptional and complex fortress whose builder must have had substantial financial means. The layout with an entrance tower is also rather rare.
There are Gothic vaults and mainly a massive ashlar pier with an opening for ceiling beams in the cellars under the north wing of today’s chateau. This provides evidence of an originally flat ceiling; the vaults are slightly newer. Other interesting stonemasonry elements, such as a semi-circular entrance portal, are found in this cellar. Along with the circular Gothic well of 108 cm in diameter, made of ashlar masonry which survived in another cellar, these elements are most likely the earliest tangible evidence of the fortress. The Late Gothic reconstruction, which appears to have been carried out after the mid-15th century, resulted in a more definitive outside layout and appearance.
The remaining description of the Land Tables Chamberlain of 1565 mentions demolished balconies in the fortress courtyard, partially filled cellars, windows and doors with broken hinges, putrid floors, and roof trusses, all of which indicates that (not only) the wooden structures originated decades earlier and were long neglected. During the following Renaissance style reconstruction, the Gothic fortress was turned into a highly presentable chateau residence; it was carried out from the late 1560s to 1585 when heritage disputes among the bereaved after Oldřich Hostakovský burst out.
Dividing walls were added on the first floor, new vaults were built on the ground and basement floors, and stone jambs of windows were set during the Renaissance reconstruction. The ceilings were about 40 cm higher than today. The tower was also reconstructed.
The chateau acquired the current appearance in the 1730s when the Prague architect Václav Špaček (1689–1751) reconstructed it in the Classicist Baroque style. The Baroque reconstruction observed the Renaissance scheme of the first floor, yet the ceilings were lowered. The Baroque reconstruction of the courtyard exterior was the greatest contribution. The arcades with segmented belts on volute consoles and half-pillars gave the typical appearance to the façade. The courtyard façades are divided by two floors of arcades where the upper floor used to be open, with the exception of the east side, but was built in during the Classicist reconstruction.
A description of the chateau by Johann Josef Schwab, probably originating after the death of Adam Filip Losy in 1781, was revealed in the archives of the Windischgrätz family which owned Ctěnice between 1781 and 1803. The description gives evidence that the first floor was inhabited and operational facilities were on the ground floor and in the cellars. In particular, there were eleven rooms with a changing room on the first floor while the caretaker and domestic staff lived on the ground floor where there were also offices, the manor kitchen, the caretaker’s kitchen, domestic storage rooms (pantry, food storage), a wood storeroom, and a cellar for drinks.
In the late 1801, shortly before the death of Josef Mikuláš, Count Windischgrätz, the chateau’s inventory list was compiled which, among other things, included a bailiff’s flat with a sanitary facility, a wood storeroom, cowsheds, barns, sheds, a granary, and a sheepfold.
The courtyard arcades were simplified during the 19th century Classicist reconstruction; most of the wooden elements, such as the entrance gate and the first floor staircase door also come from the 19th century. The two sides of the stone bridge, providing access to the chateau, were expanded.
The 20th century chateau building information file has not survived. In 1953, when the Státní statek hl. m. Prahy (State Farm of the City of Prague) owned the chateau, only small adjustments were carried out for the employees’ housing. The building was not well maintained and dilapidated, similar to the adjacent facilities. The park was devastated. The original equipment of the chateau has not survived either; it disappeared for good after the nationalisation of the Schöller family possessions.
Despite the Renaissance, Baroque, and Classicist reconstructions which contributed valuable details, the Late Gothic layout of the chateau has remained. Together with the adjacent facilities, Ctěnice represents a seat which has retained its original purpose for nearly 600 years, from the 14th to the 20th century.
The Renaissance paintings of exceptional quality on the first floor give evidence of the residence’s importance. It was reflected in the architectural segmentation and sgraffito decoration on all the façades as well as in the painting decoration of the interior and surviving handcrafted details.
In the 19th century, the hall ceilings on the first floor received stucco decoration, and most of the ground floor rooms were newly vaulted; because of the new windows, the jambs and ledges had to be adjusted. The tower was lowered and equipped with a triangular gable and onion-shaped roof; the Baroque truss has survived. All four walls of the tower room are decorated with figural motifs which are complemented with landscape and architecture motifs most likely painted into damp plaster with egg tempera. The preserved list of assets, which was elaborated after the death of Josef Mikuláš, Count Windischgrätz, in December 1801 by the official administrator Johann W. Schlög, gives an idea about the appearance of the chateau and its interiors in the early 19th century. The inventory also includes a black and brown glazed stove which, though disassembled, has survived to this day. This stove plus several other remains, such as painted beam fragments, original windows including metal fittings and ceramic and glass relics, represent the only tangible sources of evidence the history of the chateau seat. This surviving historical document enables one to take a look in the interiors of the rooms for the nobles and staff as well as the adjacent farming buildings. In addition to an officer’s room, the flat of a bailiff and chateau workers are recorded.
The historical research of the chateau, which was conducted in 1995, was to prepare the building foundations for the scheduled reconstruction – not only of the chateau, but also for other buildings; yet, the chateau reconstruction required the majority of the time. Emphasis was put on retaining the Late Classicist division and the colours on the façade. During the truss reconstruction, painted fragments of the original ceilings were discovered; their parts could be left in place on the concealed parts of ceiling structures. The removal of additional built-in structures and technical changes from the 20th century was important. The renovation of mural paintings, which were revealed on the first floor of the chateau during the 1997 restoration research, was crucial. The chateau rooms evoke various historical eras from Late Gothic over the Renaissance and Baroque to Classicism. The landscape and figural decoration of the tower, which was discovered on all four walls in the room, dates from the second half of the 18th century. The Renaissance decoration in several rooms of the west wing on the first floor appears to have originated in the time the chateau had a really significant owner. Apparently, it was the Waldstein family whom possessed Ctěnice between 1626 and 1652. The Emperor Ferdinand II permitted Adam of Waldstein to use the imperial eagle on his coat of arms in 1621; therefore, the decoration was done sometime after 1626. The painting is more of the Renaissance type, combining Celtic knots, cartouches featuring a lily and a leaping lion as well as a lily and an eagle motif. The decorative mural with stylised plants on a green malachite background is the most frequent finding, most likely coming from the 15th century, which gives evidence of the historical art development of the chateau. The restoration research did not reveal any significant findings of wall and ceiling decorations on the ground floor.
In connection with the division of the property of the family of Hrzáns of Harasov in the early 16th century, Ctěnice was mentioned as a fortress with a Meierhof, meadows, and orchard. The Meierhof, or manor farm, was owned by a free person and unlike average subject homesteads, it consisted of more sumptuous and covered buildings, barns, granaries, and cowsheds. Such farming buildings were necessary for the continuous operation of the fortress and future chateau.
In 1769, the Josephinian Land Survey was carried out, and Ctěnice was described as a small chateau, a farming domain, and a granary. Over the perimeter wall which enclosed the residence as early as the 16th century was a pheasantry and several cottages.
The farming tract adjacent to the chateau was extensively described by the builders Ignatz Palliardi and Karel Schmidt in 1803. No. 1 marked the chateau located near the manor domain which was in a good condition. No. 2 described farming facilities, in particular a barn, sheds for tools, sheds for carriages, a granary, a sheepfold, and a blacksmith’s workshop. Except for the carriage shed, all the buildings were made of stone. There were also stone wells. The farming building served for many purposes according to which it was divided: there was a kitchen, a large room to house farm workers, a room for the bailiff and staff, a cowshed for 33 cows, and smaller sheds, stables for ten horses, a cutting room, and a place for poultry. Other parts of the chateau compound were a gardener’s flat, a gamekeeper’s house with pheasantry and a little manorial lord’s house. Furthermore, there was a vegetable garden and vineyard.
Prior to the mid-20th century, there was an oblong building in front of the compound, on the left side, along the way to Čakovice. It housed farm workers and was referred to as “barracks”. Over time, the building was divided into separate houses. The house with a garden located at the beginning of the path in front of the barracks used to be an inn; later it was a grocery shop. The last will of Oldřich Hostakovský of Arklebice of 1583 mentioned the inn or tavern which also appeared in the 1604 contract of sale of Jan Zbyněk of Házmburk who sold Ctěnice to Václav Boreň of Lhota.
Today, there are seven farming buildings in the compound which are located to the southeast of the chateau. There is a valuable ground floor baroque building called “drábovna” (warden’s house) near the wayside cross to the right of the entrance to the compound. Visitors pass by a three-storeyed granary with a saddleback roof, also in the baroque style, whose simple barred windows are equipped with remarkable mouldings. During the reconstruction, the granary was turned into a hotel. At almost a right angle to the granary is a ground-floor building which has been reconstructed into a restaurant and café. A triangular gable emphasises the central axis of the building and the former entranceways have been changed into multi-parted doors.
An entranceway separates the two-storeyed house on the right which used to be a sheepfold from the granary. Tall blind arcades with only partially vaulted windows and entrances divide its façade.
In the compound, right opposite the entranceway, is a rectangular building with a remarkably protruding shelter in front of the building’s main entrance which served as a shelter for cattle. Since the 2000 reconstruction, the building has been housing a permanent display of historical carriages, giving the building its name – Carriage House. Until 2011, the exhibition of carriages was also placed in the large riding hall which is situated on the right, along the longitudinal axis of the courtyard. The riding hall is comprised of a winter riding hall, used by the Ctěnice Horse Riding Club, and a hall used for cultural events (from 2012). Originally, it was a barn; after 1945 a cow barn was established there. Slightly hidden behind the Carriage House is a farming estate with a “U” ground floor plan, rented by the Ctěnice Horse Riding Club as of 1998.
A park encompassing 2.33 ha surrounds the chateau. It was established in connection with the Renaissance reconstruction of the chateau around 1550. A system of ponds was built to drain excessive water from the surrounding soaked soil, an orchard was planted, and an encompassing wall was built which has survived. Over the centuries, the chateau compound has been using good-quality water from a nearby spring running along the entire park to Ctěnice Pond.
The foundations for today’s park were laid during the reconstruction carried out in the late 18th and in the 19th centuries.
The park received its current look between 2003 and 2007 when the project of park renovation was implemented based on the design of the architects Tomáš Jiránek, David Prudík, Vlastimil Koupal, and Adéla Jiránková who were awarded the Grand Prix in 2007 for this project by the Society of Czech Architects.
The Ctěnice Brook makes a natural division of the park. A partly forested romantic park is on the right bank to the south, situated in an ascending terrain that continues the moat of the Gothic fortress. An opening with groin vaults carved in the rock, perhaps an original refrigerator, is found in the moat. At the border of the rock promontory and a meadow is a natural spring; a barred entrance a short way off enables one to peek into the massive root system of one of the Norway maples. The English landscape garden behind the chateau is covered with ivy on the slope; the individual trees and groups of trees – oaks, ash trees, and linden trees also grow in the lawn, and the fallen overhanging willow by the pond with reeds completes the natural romantic motif of the park.
An apple orchard running along the axis dominates the second flat bank of the pond and defines the French formal garden. The original apple trees with the prevailing Nonnetit cultivar were planted in 1935. An alley of Norway maples along the north surrounding wall divides the meadows on both sides and hygrophilous dawn redwoods, overhanging beeches, and a single Eastern white pine are found on the south along the brook. The open space of meadows and old alley flow into the enclosed area of the newly established orchard in front of the former garden house, where tall-trunk rare regional cultivars of apple trees were planted in an 8 × 8 scheme.
The two parts of the park are connected with a stone bridge and several wooden footbridges spanning over the brook and completed with benches. A gazebo is a highly visible modern motif of the park – an abstract white cube standing on green grass and designed as a system of beams, boards, and laths which, similar to the benches and bridges, points out the romantic and formal characters of the chateau park.
A nursery is located on the northeast of the park; it includes a functional technical landmark, a greenhouse of 1924 dominated by a massive chimney and stone shaft to this day. The 2007 revitalisation of the nursery resulted in the project “Ctěnice Chateau Garden Centre – A Space for Gardening Alternative” which seeks to protect and present the gardening skills in the authentic historical space of one of earliest nurseries in the Czech lands. The original gardener’s house and pond were not included in the park during the modern reconstruction in 2007.