What’s Better than Being in a Library?

What’s Better than Being in a Library?

Answer: Being in a library in a castle!

As a child during World War II, Charles was in awe of the small Southern Moravian town on the Oslava River where his family fled in the months leading up to the outbreak of the war. Náměšť nad Oslavou was full of historical treasures, art works and natural beauty – including a bridge lined with Baroque sculptures and a renaissance castle.

The towering castle still stands on the rocky part of the left bank of the Oslava River. It’s on the site of an earlier Gothic castle built by the Žerotín family. After 1945 the castle was nationalized and served as the summer residence of the President of the Republic.

In 2001, the castle and its premises including an English park and French garden were declared a National Cultural Monument filled with a unique display of tapestries, precious paintings and historical furniture.

My favorite room in the castle is the Baroque library with its barrel vaulted ceiling and unique stucco and fresco decorations. It reminds me of a grotto. Featured are mythical and allegorical motifs from the metamorphoses of Latin poets Ovid and Apuleius. Among these is the ancient fairy tale of Cupid and Psyche. This decoration has been credited to Carpoforo Tencalla (1623-1685) who was an influential Swiss-Italian Baroque painter. Tencalla revived the art of fresco by introducing this style of 17th-century Italian painting with its mythological subjects to Central Europe.

The Haugwitz family is credited with providing much of the library’s diverse collection from the 18th century on. It now includes about sixteen thousand volumes from various parts of Europe written in French, German, Spanish and English. One of the most valuable documents is the six volume Kralice Bible from 1579 which I wrote about in a previous blog.

Also of note are the Olomouc Missal written in German and Latin and printed in 1499 in Nuremberg and writings of Aristotle published in the mid-16th century. Other disciplines range from botany, zoology and geology to contemporary newspapers and even girls’ romances and Jules Verne novels.

Surrounded by the collections, classical and popular music concerts, part of the 19th century tradition, are still being performed in this beautiful library.

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