Dating back to the 11th century, the Bítov Castle was built on a promontory which the Želetavka River flows around near its confluence with the Dyje River. This area has been nicknamed the Moravian Switzerland. You will be astonished by the local nature of the Podyjí National Park. Contrary to the usual state of affairs, you will not scramble up a steep hill to get to the castle, but you will go down a steep hill instead! An asphalt road leads to the outer castle gate, but if you take a few steps to the left, along the beaten paths that lead to the best observation points, a great view of the river and the beautiful surrounding nature will open up in front of you (or rather below you)!
The solid castle made of stone was originally wooden. You may think that the castle grows directly out of the rock at some places, which is actually true. The castle was rebuilt many times, so you will see elements of the Renaissance and the Baroque styles, but the Neo-Gothic appearance prevails.
The tour of the castle includes palace interiors with historic furniture, an armoury, a prison, a dungeon, a torture chamber and a castle chapel. You can see a zoological collection of two brothers from the Daun family who travelled the world and brought lots of souvenirs back home. The last private owner of the castle (until 1945) was the industrialist Baron Haas, who loved animals. He had a private zoo, one of the largest in Europe at that time, right at the castle. He expanded the local collection of stuffed dogs, which is still the largest in the world today and comprises fifty dogs of various breeds. (When your kids start crying, reassure them that the dogs died a natural death and had a beautiful life at the castle!)
For many years, local enthusiasts have been organizing Christmas guided tours during the Advent season, which end in the castle kitchen with some mulled wine, punch and Christmas cookies.
You can leave your car on the hill above the castle, near a giant sculpture of Rumburak raven and climb up a lookout tower. If the Bítov Castle has inspired you to seek out more castle experiences, head for the forest and visit the romantic Cornštejn Castle ruin!