At first glance, this unobtrusive village near Písek is nothing special. From a distance, though, the visible fortress tower suggests the presence of a small but massive castle building. Behind the windows of the bare façade of the residential part, flowers appear, indicating someone living inside.
The Cerhonice fortress has been partially repaired and some areas proudly boast a new white exterior, but for the most part it is still under reconstruction and is patiently awaiting its rebirth. The owner of the fortress, Vladimír Jiráň, a native of Central Bohemia, returned to his homeland from France and began to look for a suitable building for a dignified retirement. He fell in love with the South Bohemian landscape, but the buildings that were available after the Velvet Revolution were not well suited for reconstruction – even though he and his partner Olga Macháčková were visiting fifteen buildings per day. The choice finally came down to Cerhonice. The chateau was the property of the Premonstratensian Order from 1689 until the period of the First Republic. This religious order originally came from France, so perhaps it was the subconscious affection of Mr. Jiráň for all things French that led his path here.
The last pre-war owners, the König family, bought the chateau in 1936. When it was later returned to them during restitution, they no longer wanted it.
And so it happened that in 2002, Vladimír Jiráň became the new master of Cerhonice, and this dilapidated village landmark began to slowly rise from the ashes. Today, some of the rooms have been furnished with period furniture, the driveway is covered with pebbles, and the sound of craftsmen’s hammers echo from behind the building. Vladimír Jiráň wishes to live in peace here and has no desire to turn his building into a tourist attraction. Still, if someone arranges a visit in advance, or if there’s a party in the village, he’ll gladly open the gates of his castle. He works regularly with the Prácheň Museum, and when theater enthusiasts or school youth come to see the original family home of Ladislav Stroupežnicky, he likes to welcome them. This famous dramatist for the National Theater and author of “Naši furianti” was born in this building in 1850.
Mr. Jiráň gets along well with the locals, and even the Premonstratensians occasionally come from nearby Milevsko for a coffee and proudly admire their coat of arms displayed on the castle tower, now gleaming with newness.
Nearby tips: Zvíkov The royal Zvíkov Castle was founded in the first half of the 13th century by the Přemyslids at the confluence of the Otava and Vltava Rivers. It primarily served as a military fortress in times of political instability. In the winter, the cellars are home to a rare species of bats who are monitored every year.