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The lands of South Moravia have changed hands many times through historical events you may have learned about in school. For example, the Battle of Austerlitz took place just a short distance from Brno in 1805. Slavkov Castle is located not far from the battlefield & played an important role before and after the battle, serving as lodging for the military leaders on both sides, including Napoleon. Today the beautiful chateau is open for tours.
History of Slavkov Castle & the Battle of Austerlitz
The original Slavkov Castle was built in the 13th century by the Teutonic Knights. The current incarnation of Slavkov Castle was constructed starting in the 17th century. It was designed by Italian architect Domenico Martinelli. Construction of the Baroque-style chateau took over 50 years. The outside gardens were added in 1774 & are modeled in the French style inspired by Versailles.
In December 1805, the French Empire squared off against the Austrian & Russian Empires in the Battle of Austerlitz, part of the Napoleonic Wars. Despite being outnumbered, the French handily won this Battle of the Three Emperors in just a day. On 6 December 1805, France & Austria signed a peace treaty in Slavkov Castle’s oval ceremonial hall now referred to as the Historic Salon.
Prior to the Battle of Austerlitz, Austrian Emperor Francis II & Russian Tsar Alexander I stayed at Slavkov Castle. After the battle, French emperor Napoleon I stayed at the property.
After centuries of private ownership by the Kaunitz family from 1509-1919, the Czech government became the owners of Slavkov Castle in the 20th century. They then sold it to the town for one Czech koruna in 1996.
Getting to Slavkov Castle
Slavkov Castle is only about a 20-minute drive away from Brno. There are also frequent trains and buses from Brno to Slavkov u Brna (formerly Austerlitz). The journey takes about half an hour. Along the way, you might pass this cement plant that’s been made to look like soldiers and a cannon.
There aren’t many group tours to Slavkov Castle, but there is this one that focuses on the Battle of Austerlitz.
Alternatively, you can invade the Czech Republic and defeat your enemies in battle, but this method of arrival is no longer recommended.
Slavkov Castle Tour
I visited Slavkov Castle (official website) as part of a press trip following Traverse 22 in Brno. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by two friendly people in full period costumes. They handed us each a glass of Czech sparkling wine. At 9:35 am, this was a bold way of starting off a day that would also see us visit Spielberg Winery and Bzenec Castle Winery. This is not the typical tour, but such tours are available by special request.
Our tour guides stayed in aristocratic character as members of the Kaunitz family the whole time. They were quite funny as they led us through the Slavkov Chateau.
We first headed up the stairs to the right of the entryway. According to our guides, the first floor is the most interesting floor. The building has three wings: the west wing, the north wing, and the south wing, each built by a different generation.
The Slavkov Castle tour goes through the various rooms of the palace, each filled with beautiful furniture and decor. Slavkov Castle has 115 rooms, so the tour hits the highlights.
There are 17th-century wall paintings, as well as models of the chateau.
Not only are there all these lovely wall paintings, but there are also ceiling paintings throughout Slavkov Castle.
One of the highlights of Slavkov Castle is the balcony where Napoleon gave a victory speech after the Battle of Austerlitz.
There is also a bedroom with a bed that some claim Napoleon slept in. However, this is not true because he had a traveling bed that he brought with him to battle.
The tour also includes the Historical Hall where the Battle of Austerlitz treaty was signed.
Another highlight is the chateau’s temple. The temple is 3 stories high and features an altar and crucifix made by Messerschmidt from Vienna.
In addition to hosting historical tours, Slavkov Castle also holds other events. These events range from weddings and other indoor occasions for a couple of hundred people to a full concert by Sting in the garden that 17,000 people attended as part of the Slavkov Open.
The beautiful Slavkov Castle is filled with interesting history & stories, making it a nice day trip from Brno.
If you’re looking for a place to stay in Brno, check out these hotels.
Note: My visit to Slavkov Castle was a Traverse press trip hosted by South Moravia. All opinions are 100% my own.
Last updated on December 18, 2022