Brno Family: Castles for Bedtime Stories
Buchlov Castle is about an hour away by car, not overrun with people and not overly taxing for day trips with young children. Photo credit: Courtesy of Buchlov Castle.
Brno, Jul 14 (BD) – Not far from Brno there is a bucolic valley filled with forests and meadows and hiking trails. It is perfect for little kids. The drive is just about an hour, it is not overrun with people, and, though it has some uphill climbs, it is not overly taxing for day trips.
Above it all, there is a castle — Buchlov.
This area has many castles, including the often-overlooked Špilberk Castle right in the middle of our city. All of them have their own history and sense of mystery. Children love them. Parents love them for the fresh air and the photos that will help document family history.
Earlier this summer, I took my 4-year-old girl and 2-year-old boy to this valley due east of Brno for a nice leisurely walk through the forest, then up to Buchlov Castle. They are young for a guided tour but the overall atmosphere has proven valuable for illuminating our nightly bedtime stories with a real-life foundation for their fantasies.
An inordinate number of my stories must now include a castle.
We visited Buchlov Castle on a beautiful weekend day. The main parking lot was filled up by 12:30 p.m. and we were forced to park, for 30kc, in the overflow lot. I feared that this was a bad omen, but it turned out to be the more comfortable parking area and the number of cars seemed to be more connected to bicyclists and hikers than castle-goers.
The entire experience was manageable. There wasn’t a busy roadway. We found a comfortable place to eat our sandwich lunches. There was plenty of shade. There was a nice view. And everything was clean and maintained.
There is a short hike to get to the top of hill and into the castle. With little kids, this can drag a bit, but the large paving stones can easily be turned into an uphill game of Frogger, the 1980s arcade game where you had to jump from lily-pad to lily-pad to get to your destination.
Walking through the castle gate, crossing the interior wooden bridge and standing against meters-tall walls creates an impression. The central courtyard has many nooks and crannies to explore. And, importantly, there is a small restaurant where you can buy ice cream as a reward for all of the earlier walking.
My kids sank onto one of the many comfortable benches to relax, slurp up their ice cream and take in the atmosphere. Quickly enough, they were asking their normal barrage of questions. The girl: Where does the Princess sleep? The boy: Where is the construction equipment?
Eventually, I was coerced into telling a story that included these favorite themes: Once upon a time, many, many years ago, the horses got tired of pulling the building supplies up the steep hill. So the clever princess, who lives up there in that tower right there, helped the king find bulldozers, excavators and dump trucks so that the castle could be completed . . . and the construction equipment was only rented, and it is now rebuilding Brno.
Buchlov castle has a long and interesting history. See the castle website for details. There are several options for tours. The easiest is the Areal of the Castle tour, which is unguided and the cost of admission (30kc for adults and kids 6 and under free). The Through the Ages tour is 90 minutes long and goes through the entire castle with a guide; it costs 200kc and has text translations from Czech.
Around the castle, there is an easy-to-follow trail system so that you can get many different views of the castle. The medieval Chapel of St. Barbara is a half-kilometer away. And from the hilltop, you can see Uherské Hradiště and the valley carved out by the Moravia River.
When you get hungry and/or thirsty, there are least three dining establishments around and inside Buchlov Castle: a nice restaurant (that was overflowing with a dance group of senior citizens when we walked past); a snack bar near the main parking lot that seemed popular with bicyclists; and the small restaurant inside the castle courtyard.
Click here for more information on the official English-language website: https://www.hrad-buchlov.cz/en