The history of Hradec-upon-Moravice
The history of the town is very rich. It was settled as early as in 2000 B.C. due to its location on a promontory protected by the Moravice river. The first traces of Slavonic settlement date back from the 8th and 9th centuries and a fortified Slavonic site existed probably in the 10th century. The importance of Hradec was strengthened also by its location on an ancient Amber Path leading from the Mediterranean to the Baltic Sea. The first written records about Hradec date from 1060 and 1078. A large fortified settlement gradually turned into a massive castle built in Romanesque, later Gothic style of the Přemyslids. During the centuries it became a symbol of the power of the Luxembourg, Poděbrad, Jagellonian and Hapsburg kings. Later , rebuilt in Renaissance style, it was a property of foremost Silesian houses. It shared the same fate as ”white Opava”. For centuries it was the centre of the region – the administrative power of the region was transferred to Opava as lale as in 1433.
It was the Lichnowsky Princes who made their mark in the history of the castle. They purchased the estate in 1778 and were forced to leave in May 1945 when they lost their property due to the post-war changes in Europe.
A devastating fire of the castle in 1796 gave rise to its reconstruction in Empire style; at that time the system of fortifications was no more necessary and the castle gained a new appearance, now known as the White Castle.
Eight princes and counts of the Lichnowsky lineage were in turn the owners of the Hradec estate, each of them being a personality of extra ordinary education, interests, abilities and connections. It influenced the qualities of the castle´s collections. Besides kings, aristocrats and other famous people the Lichnowsky family hosted many celebrities of the world of culture, such as Ludwig van Beethoven Nicolo Paganini, Franz Liszt. At the turn of the 20th century th Te castle was visited by Gerhard Hauptmann, a dramatist and novelist, Hugo von Hoffmannstahl, a writer and librettist, and Karl Kraus, a pacifist, essayist, dramatist and literary critic. The correspondence with Reiner Maria Rilke, Mark Twain, Pablo Picasso or Oskar Kokoschka is also worth mentioning.
At the end of the 19th century the Red Castle and the White Tower in neo-Gothic style were built. The castle boasts its rich collections and a valuable picture gallery, probably the largest in Silesia.