Originally a Gothic castle, founded in the mid-13th century, it was rebuilt in the 16th and 17th centuries during the tenure of the Smiřický family into a Mannerist castle. Its present architectural form was gained during renovations and interior modifications in the 17th and 18th centuries, when it was held by the Italian noble family of Piccolomini. The Early Baroque Spanish Hall spreads over two floors, and there are unique collections of tapestries as well as Baroque flower still lifes. Besides the Smiřickýs of Smiřic and the Piccolominis, other important owners of Náchod included the Duke of Courland and Sagan and the German princely Schaumburg-Lippe family.
More about the history
The first mention of the Náchod region dates back to the mid-11th century, when the Bohemian Prince Vratislav II organized the election of the Prague Bishop at nearby Dobenín during his campaign to Silesia (1068). In the 11th and 12th century, there probably was a guard village “Branka” near the land gate, in the area of the current Old Town. The castle and probably also the town of Náchod were founded by Hron of the House of Načeratic in the mid-13th century. The castle was built at the trade route near the Czech-Glatz border, so its strategic importance was rather high. Hron’s descendants held Náchod until 1321 when it was acquired by John of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia, and then by Hynek of Dubá in 1325. The House of Dubá held the domain until 1367. In 1414, Náchod was acquired by Boček of Kunstadt, and then by the future Bohemian king George Podiebrad in 1427, after the death of his father Viktorin. During the Hussite wars, the castle fell into the hands of Hussites who often had to defend themselves against the attacks from the catholic Silesia. In 1437, both the castle and the town were conquered by Hussite John Kolda of Žampach who then used it as a base for his raiding expeditions to Bohemia and Silesia. George Podiebrad couldn’t use his lawful inheritance until 1456 when he finally conquered the castle.
Important owners, whose reign in the domain brought about numerous building activities, were the members of the Smiritz House, one of the wealthiest in the Czech lands in the second half of the 16th century. Sigismund of Smiritz bought Náchod in 1544, and the domain remained the property of the house until 1620 when it was confiscated after the Battle of White Mountain, because the Smiritz House took part in the Bohemian Revolt. The last male member of the family Albrecht John, who inherited the Náchod domain in 1614, took an active part in the movement, personally participated in the defenestration in May 1618, and was one of the thirty directors. However, his promising career finished abruptly by his untimely death on November 1618. The large Smiritz inheritance, including the Náchod domain, was inherited by his sister Margaret Salomena; the chateau became the last Bohemian overnight refuge for the “Winter King”, Frederick V of the Palatinate, during his escape from the land after the defeat at the White Mountain. Shortly after that, also Markéta Salomena left Bohemia. On June 21, 1621, 27 Bohemian leaders were executed at the Old Town Square, including the Náchod townsman Tobias Stefek of Koloděje, a member of the Directorate and regent of the Smiritz domain.
In 1623, the Náchod domain was bought by Magdalena Trčková of Lípa, and several years later she gave it to her son Adam Erdman Trčka. Adam was the last Czech aristocrat to own the domain. His brother-in-law was the imperial general Albrecht of Wallenstein, whose mother also came from the Smiritz house; Albrecht was probably born at the Náchod chateau in 1583. Adam was loyal to his relative until February 25, 1634, when both of them were murdered in Eger.
In the same year, the chateau together with the domain became property of the Italian aristocrat Ottavio Piccolomini de Arragon, as a reward for helping remove Wallenstein. Ottavio, 35 at the time, had served for a long time in the army, and his service gave him a lot of warfare experience. He joined the army at seventeen, took part in the Battle of White Mountain, later became a commander of Wallenstein’s personal guard. In the Battle of Lützen, Ottavio’s “black riders” killed the Swedish king Gustav II. Adolph. His social ascent was closely linked to his military achievements; for his service, Ottavio was promoted to earl’s rank; for the defeat of the French army at Thionville in 1639, Spanish king Philip IV gave him the dukedom of Amalfi, and in 1643 he received the Order of the Golden Fleece. By the end of the war, he was in charge of the imperial army in Bohemia. Finally, after diplomatic negotiations on the conditions of the Peace of Westphalia which he attended as the imperial plenipotentiary, he completed his successful career by obtaining the hereditary title of Duke of the empire. He also received the Order of St. Stephen of Tuscany. The Piccolomini House owned the domain until 1783, and gave it, more or less, its current design.
In 1792, the domain was bought by Peter von Biron, Duke of Courland and Semigallia. This well educated man and art lover lived an interesting life full of dramatic twists. He was brought up in the court of the Russian Tzar; in 1740, he followed his father to a long exile in Siberia. In 1769, he inherited his father’s place as a Duke of Courland, reformed the underdeveloped educational system, supported art and science, and struggled for the economic development of the country. However, unsatisfactory political situation and Polish and Russian interventions in Courland’s affairs forced Peter to abdicate in 1795. During a few years of his reign in the Náchod domain, he significantly improved the level of its cultural life. He established a theater right at the castle, organized shows and opera performances. His progressive, reform ideas inspired by the Enlightenment showed, for example, when he began to pay the subjects of his domain for their corvée duties. After his death in 1800, the domain was inherited by his eldest daughter Catherine Frederica Wilhelmina, known as The Duchess from the novel “The Grandmother” by Božena Němcová. This Duchess of Semigallia made her mark in history especially by her active participation in forming the last coalition against Napoleon in 1813.
In 1842, the domain was bought by Prince George Wilhelm Schaumburg-Lippe for 2,500,000 guldens for his second born son Wilhelm Charles August, and thus established the Náchod line of his house. The marriage of Wilhelm’s son Frederick and the Danish princess Luisa in the end of the 19th century connected the house with the royal family of Denmark. These German dukes ruled Náchod until the end of WW2. On June 21, 1945, all their property was confiscated by the state.