10 things to visit in Loket Czech republic
Loket Czech republic main facts
It is believed that this area was inhabited by the Slavic peoples already in the 6th century. Some sources say that Loket town was founded in 1234, others than in 1240, and some even mention the year 1288. But it was in the 13th century, for sure, when Loket became a royal town with many privileges, such as not having to pay town taxes.
It used to be called ”Key to the Czech Kingdom” and served as a temporary residence of the Luxembourg Royal family.
Then in the 19th century Loket became famous thanks to its local porcelain factory.
Loket is a very small town of just approx. 3,000 inhabitants in Western Bohemia, Czech republic. Especially thanks to the Gothic Loket castle, the destination could be considered as ”the historical gem of Bohemia.”
Loket is situated 15 km South-West from the most famous Czech spa town Karlovy Vary and it’s easy to reach via train or bus so no need to rent a car. Personally, I hopped on a local bus from Karlovy Vary which took us approx. 30 minutes from the Karlovy Vary bus station at Dolni nadrazi to Loket (next to the petrol station.)
The whole bus drive is very scenic, mostly because the Loket castle stands in the middle of a hill which is surrounded by the curvy river Ohře so the bus needs to drive all around the river bend. You need to see what I mean as just the simple bus drive is so worth it.
Speaking of the river bend, that’s where the town got its name. Loket in Czech means elbow. Because the river bend is shaped as a human elbow, the settlement was named Loket.
Once you get out of the bus at the bus stop Loket (watch out, there’s more bus stops in Loket with different names, and the one I got off is just called ”Loket”) you will be awarded with a great view of the castle. You need to cross the bridge to get to town finding the Loket castle on your left.
Just behind the bridge on the T.G. Masaryka street 1/69 in the first building on your left side, the Loket tourist office can be found. They will explain you all the basic info with the main attractions on the map, so pay a visit there.
On the other hand, Loket is so small that you could not get lost even without a map, so no worries.
After my first Loket visit in summer of 2011, I was really looking forward to my second one now in November 2016. Loket is one of the most charming little towns I’ve ever been to. No wonder so many famous people fell in love with in back in time. Important personalities, such as the King Charles IV, Johann Wolfgang Goethe or even Richard Gere loved this town. To me, Loket was love at first sight, too :)
I have to admit that Loket is one of the most fairy-tale towns I’ve ever been to, hence a must visit in Czech republic. It’s super picturesque, colorful and very peaceful.
10 things to visit in Loket Czech republic:
1. Loket castle
The Gothic castle is definitely the most known Loket monument. The significant historical heritage has been standing here for more than 800 years. It’s said that the castle was built in the second half of the 12th century or by the Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa or by the Czech King Vladislav I.
Now the visitors can walk around the castle learning more about its history through many different exhibitions. The castle is open daily all year round, always since 9 am, just the closing time changes depending on the month (closes when it’s getting dark between 3.30 pm to 6.30 pm).
The Loket castle (hrad Loket in Czech) is mainly famous thanks to the King Charles IV who was kept inside by force by his father John of Bohemia (also called John of Luxembourg or Jan Luxembuský in Czech) for 2 or 3 months when he was a child. Nonetheless, Charles IV became very fond of the castle and the whole town during his adulthood.
2. Town hall
When I visited in winter, the Christmas tree was standing just in front of the Town Hall which is the early Baroque building with a nice tower dominating the Southern part of the town square. The Town hall (Radnice in Czech) was built based on the Abraham Leutner’s plan in 1682. I did not enter the Town hall but was told that it’s possible to see preserved vaulted ceilings inside. There’s also the town library and now in 2016 the Charles IV exhibition took place there.
3. Holy Trinity Column
Just a few metres from the Town hall we can see the Holy Trinity Column (Sloup Nejsvětejší Trojice in Czech). This centrepoint of the town square was erected already in 1719 as thanks for saving the town from the plague in 1713 and 1714. The Holy Trinity is located on the top of the column with 3 archangels below it.
4. Black tower
The Loket Black tower (Černá věž in Czech) is not as black as the Black tower at the Cheb castle I visited a few days ago. I’d say it’s more of dark grey color but still easily recognizable from far. The Black tower was built as a defence tower as part of the fortification system of the so called ”lower castle fortification.” The only entrance to the tower, located in the middle of its height, proves its defence character. The Black tower guarded the only town gate in the past. Nowadays, it’s open to public in certain months of the year and offers good views of Loket, plus an exhibition of curiosities. Unfortunately, it was closed in November during my visit so I could only see it from the outside.
5. Church of St. Wenceslaus
It’s situated on the Church street (Kostelní ulice) just below the Loket castle. A Gothic church was destroyed here by fire in the 13th century so a new Baroque church was completed on the same place in 1734. That’s exactly the red and white Church of St. Wenceslaus (Kostel Sv. Václava) we can admire nowadays. If you manage to enter the church, you will see the main altar painting done by the Baroque artist Petr Brandl.
6. Robicska tower
In Czech it is spelled as Robičská věž, and can be spotted on the Castle street (Hradní ulice). So when facing the Town Hall in the main square, look to the left and follow the little side street towards the town walls. It is believed that the tower was constructed in the early 15th century when the town fortification walls were reconstructed. The Robicska tower also served to protect the royal town.
7. The ruined Dvorana building
At the corner of Radniční and Hradní streets, just a couple of meters before the Robičská tower, I found a really cool building in ruins. I am so into old ruined buildings because they usually show so much heart and history at once, that I was left in awe when staring at this one. I have not found the building name on any Loket map nor on the atraction list so I did not know its name until I did some Google search.
But you will for sure notice the Dvorana building thanks to big colorful art paintings instead of some broken windows. The paitings were part of the Loket art exhibition in 2012 and the building is now under reconstruction. Really curious about what they will make out of it as over the years many ideas came up. A weatlhy Russian painter wanted to buy Dvorana years ago and transform it into an art gallery, then the town planned to build car garages there, and now it looks like it will become the cultural center. So let’s see. But if you like old charming buildings, try to visit Dvorana as soon as possible before they completely reconstruct it into something else.
8. Fortification walls with the gallery
The fortification walls were most probably built in the 13th century with defensive purpose. To give you a better idea of the original Loket fortification system, the former walls were reconstructed in years 1990 – 2000. Now part of the walls also hold the ”Gallery on the walls” wih some images.
9. Goethe’s trail with viewpoints
I walked part of the trail in 2011 but not now in the cold weather with my fingers frozen from having taken so many photos at the Loket castle. However, the trail is really a nice way of getting stunning views of Loket. I believe that to get a complete charming Loket experience under your skin, you should also stroll from the other side of the river Ohře and see the town and the castle in full perspective.
And why is the trail named after Goethe? As I’ve mentioned above Goethe was a regular visitor to town. He came here between 10 to 14 times, and also to celebrate his 74th birthday in 1823. To commemorate Goethe’s visits, you can also find in Loket town a Monument of J. W. Goethe, Goethe’s terrace, Hotel Goethe, and even a Goethe’s statue in the Loket castle.
10. Watch a concert at the amphitheater
The open amphitheater is located across the river Ohre, on the other side of the town overlooking the Loket castle. So to get from the main town to the amphitheater, you need to cross the T.G. Masaryka street bridge. I did not walk down there this time as it was freezing and nothing was happening there. But back in 2011 we walked all around the river and I definitely recommend you to watch a concert here if you get a chance. Such a magical place!
Please check more of my photos in Loket Czech republic photo album :)
I visited Loket as part of the #K700 campaign to celebrate 700th anniversary since birth of the King Charles IV. You can find more posts about the campaign also on my social media channels searching for hashtag #K700. The campaign was supported by the Czech tourism board.