Dražíč Fortress - Castle of Youth

About 6 kilometers from Bechyně in South Bohemia stands Dražíč, the 2011 Village of the Year. The village is home to a well-maintained brewery with the Lipan distillery, and just behind it there is an entrance to the garden and the park with a simple rectangular building in mostly Baroque style. At every step it’s clear that there’s work going on, but every visitor is welcome nonetheless. The door jambs still reveal remnants of the Renaissance fortress. The building is now dominated by the cleaned and repaired Chapel of St. Nicholas, where mass still takes place from time to time. All this is the credit of its current owner, Count Leopold Deym, who came from Lower Bavaria and lives in Munich. His family history dates back to the 15th century and is associated with the town of Střížov near Milevsko and other places in Bohemia. It is known, for example, that his ancestor signed a protest letter against the burning of Master Jan Hus in 1415.

Count Deym purchased the devastated building with arcades on the ground and first floor from the owners who received the castle during restitution. Today he owns 60 hectares of fields and meadows, and he’s planted a large apple orchard, so there’s no shortage of work.

Leopold Deym has developed a meeting place for young people from both sides of the Bavarian/Czech border at the “Zámek Mládí” (which translates into “castle of youth” and is also the name of the company that rescued it). Youth groups organize their meetings here and live in tents on the meadow near the castle. The owner would like to build a regional museum in the reconstructed castle rooms in the future as a reminder of historical ties and the need for cooperation between places, cities, and countries. In 2011, he was awarded the “Golden Heart for Europe” Award of the Czech-German Society. His brother Michael also assisted with the first steps towards reconstructing the castle, but Count Leopold is credited with the most work on this local monument, often commuting here to work personally. The Zámek Mládí offers unconventional volunteer work stays for young people, and the doors are open for visitors who arrange their arrival beforehand. The castle also boasts a beautiful medieval black kitchen that has already been completely restored.