Konopiště was the residence of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne). He purchased the castle and took up residence several years prior to his assassination in Sarajevo. Archduke Ferdinand married a woman of Czech nobility (a scandalous affair due to her only being a duchess). Feeling ostracized from the nobility in Vienna, he chose Konopiště as his residence instead.
The best way to get to town, and then to Konopiště, from Prague is by train. You have to catch a train to Benešov and from there walk 2 km to the castle. To get from the train station to the castle find the yellow tourist trail and follow the markers to the castle. The departing train schedule is posted very clearly in the train station and you may want to review it to choose a departure time prior to heading up to the castle.
The castle, as far as Czech castles go, is not overly impressive. It does have a large tower, a mote with two live bears, extensive gardens as well as a lake. Inside of the castle you can see Archduke Ferdinand's large collection of weapons, guest room, living quarters, etc. all of which are also not too unique. The weapon's and armor collection though is quite impressive. The aspect of the castle that does differentiate it from other castle's in the Czech Republic is that the castle tour will touch on issues that are very much relevant to 20th-century history. The guide will go into some detail about the mysterious death of Crown Prince Rudolph, information about the assassination and the relevance of these events to the decline of the Austro-Hungarian empire in the early 20th century. For those interested 20th-century European history, the castle is definitely worth a visit.
There are three tours of the castle:
- Basic -
- Section II - A tour of Ferdinand's living quarters, guest area, 'harem' gifted to him by the Turkish Sultan, his arms collection and a modern 'elevator.'
Cost: 140 Kč for tours in foreign languages
- Section III (extensive tour) - no information available
Cost: 250 Kč for tours in foreign languages
The castle is open from 09:00 to 17:00 during the summer. During the off-season it is open during most of the day (with varying hours by month) except for the months of January and February, during which time the castle is closed.
- Museum of historical motorcycles, Konopiste 30 (2 km from Benesov, 35 km from Prague, next to the Konopiste castle), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. The museum shows the factory manufacture (JAWA, CZ) and sport successes of the Czech marks in the 20th century. The greatest rarities are: the motorcycle of Frantisek Stastný on which he was many times the world champion, white-gold ČZ 500 Vatikan, Jawa boxer 420, exhibition of the motorcycles for speedway. The exhibition is completed with video projection and with champion prizes from the winning races. The museum is open year round from 08:00 to 20:00.
- Blue from Sky - Modre z nebe, Male namesti, ✉ email@example.com. Beautiful small toy and gift shop in the centre of Benesov city.
- World in Puzzle, Prazska 126, Benesov, ☏ . Czech puzzles from different material (wood, metal, plast) Wide range of logical games for everyone. The biggest seller of machanical puzzles in the Czech republic.
U Ferdinanda This is a great pub near the castle's lake. There is an outdoor barbecue where Czech sausage with horseradish and mustard is served among other great meals. A small local brewery produces 'Ferdinand' beer which is definitely on par with some of the other larger more well-known Czech breweries. The prices for beer and food are very reasonable.
- Pension Konopiste, Konopiste 30 (2 km from Benesov, 35 km from Praque, next to the Konopiste castle), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.