Near Nové Hrady, near the Austrian border, stands the Cuknštejn Fortress, known to Europeans from films. Two Czech fairy tales were filmed there in 2000 and 2008, (Královský slib, Ať žijí rytíři), ZDF Germany filmed Puppenspieler here, and in autumn 2018 Czech Television filmed a new television fairy tale on this site.
The fortress was built from 1488 to 1491 by William Pouzar of Michnice. At the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th century, the high clerk Oldřich Pouzar owned the fortress; he held a prominent position at the Prague Castle and is buried in the Saxon Chapel in the St. Vitus Cathedral. After his death in 1549, his sons divided his property, with Cuknštejn going to Svojše Pouzar. The estate was further dismantled and after his death in 1570, the fortress passed from Pavel Boubínský from Újezd to Jiří Kába from Rybňany, who lived here until his death at the beginning of the Thirty Years’ War.
Cuknštejn was burned down by Imperial troops during the Bohemian Revolt and subsequently acquired by Count Charles Bonaventure of Bucquoy together with the entire Nové Hrady estate. The Bucquoy family did repair the fortress, but they only used it only for agriculture. After the rise of communism, Cuknštejn was confiscated from the Bucquoys and became state property. It was used for recreational purposes mostly in the 1960’s, but after 1971 it fell into disuse and was left to dilapidate. It was in this catastrophic state that it was sold in 2000, despite the fact that it had been registered as a cultural monument since the 1950’s. The Nové Hrady municipality’s plans to purchase it fell through, given the lack of resources in the city treasury for salvage and reconstruction. The original plan for a historical manuscript ethnographic exhibition of the South Bohemian Museum to be created here also passed, fruitless. This permanent exhibition is to be found nowadays in the nearby fortress of Žumberk.
The fortress’ current owner, civil engineer Tomáš Pek, loves historical architecture; he knew full well that he was taking on an exhausting project. His family was, understandably, a bit skeptical about buying the fortress. A chapel with Gothic frescoes was discovered while repairing the facades. Valuable elements of the original building include a stone gallery from which one can enter the upper floor, an octagonal two-storey tower, a number of stone saddle portals, and windows with pointed Gothic arches.
Tomáš Pek teaches at the Faculty of Restoration of the University of Pardubice and advises all those who are just entering the heritage restoration field. He is also an active politician in Prague 10 and oversees projects related to the renovation of historical buildings and their new use.
When Tomáš is there, or upon prior arrangement, he enjoys accepting visitors. The fortress is a venue for festive events, weddings, and family celebrations. Preparations for musical productions are also under way. An Open House day is being prepared, and the floors and festive hall will soon be repaired.
Nearby tips: Žumberk Visit a branch of the South Bohemian Museum in the Žumberk fortress (about 6 km from Nové Hrady) with its exhibition of folk painted furniture. There are also permanent exhibitions entitled “Fish and People” and “The Rožmberks and Fishponds in Southern Bohemia”.