Sokolov Chateau

A fortified settlement on the site of the present-day Sokolov Chateau first arose around the important provincial crossroads. The oldest written record of Sokolov is from 13 th April 1279 when the Nothaft brothers, who used the title "of Sokolov" ("de Walchenawe"), are referred to in connection with trade negotiations. At that time there was evidently a water tower which served as a manor house, as archeological research has shown. A circular peripheral fortification wall (with a diameter of 42 metres) was erected to encircle the residential palace with a rectangular ground plan. In 1339, the Nothafts sold the manor to the Winklers, who placed the property under the administration of the royal chamber in 1366.

The Hussite wars had no effect on the fate of the manor and the Sokolov estate was subsequently acquired by Ka špar Šlik. Around 1480, the Šliks reconstructed the stronghold as a castle with an almost square ground plan and with four corner towers, which provided the basis for the present-day chateau.

The last Sokolov lord of the Šlik line was Jan Albín, who together with his brother Jáchym Ondřej was one of the leaders of the Rising of the Bohemian Estates in 1618. After the defeat of the uprising in the decisive Battle of the White Mountain on 8.11.1620, Jan Alb ín Šlik escaped abroad but his brother Jachým Ondřej was executed on 21.6.1621 on the Old Town Square in Prague.

Sokolov Castle together with its entire estate was immediately confiscated from the Šliks in 1621 and in 1622 it was sold to the Nostitzes, a prominent family that was greatly devoted to the Hapsburgs.

Sokolov Castle played its military role during the defence of the town throughout the Thirty Years' War, when Sokolov alternately saw the Estates forces and Imperial forces, the Saxon army, the Bavarian army and finally the Swedes, who burnt down the town and the damaged castle in 1648. Sokolov Castle was completely destroyed after these attacks and so its owner Jan Hartvik Nostitz had it rebuilt in late Renaissance style as a comfortable chateau. This reconstruction took place from 1659 to 1663.

Around 1730 the surrounding area of the chateau was landscaped in the style of a French garden with rich sculptural ornamentation. In 1742, during the Wars of the Austrian Succession, the French occupied the chateau, and in 1762 during the Seven Years' War the town and the chateau were ransacked by the Prussians. From 1800 to 1805, the enlightened Count Bed řich Nostitz-Rieneck had the chateau entirely renovated in Classicist style. Minor building alterations were carried out in 1870, and around 1880 the old roofs of the chateau towers were replaced by tent-shaped roofs, which have been preserved down to the present day.

In the 1970s, the facades and interiors were repaired while the ground floor of the chateau was converted into a ceremonial hall and prestige municipal facilities. However, the repairs were of a low standard and rather insensitive to the historical importance of the chateau.

From 1993 to 1994, the chateau underwent more general repairs. This last renovation respects the early 19 th century Classicist architectural character of the building. The chateau facades were painted in natural brick colours and the window flanning and portals were highlighted in white.

The museum itself was established in Sokolov in 1934 by a local museum association with its headquarters in the building on the corner of the Old Square. After the Second World War it was transferred to this building after the army vacated the chateau. In 1982 it became the town museum and since 1984 it has held the status of a district museum. In 2003, it came under the administration of the Karlovy Vary Region as the Sokolov Regional Museum. In 1994, a museum branch was set up in Kr ásno and in 2001, another branch came into being in Horní Slavkov .