History of Kačina Castle
Kačina Castle ranks among the most significant buildings of Empire architecture in Bohemia.
Jan Rudolf Chotek, then president of the governorate and the highest burgrave of the Kingdom of Bohemia, had it built in the 1806-1824 as his summer representative seat. The Choteks came to the Kutná Hora region as early as in 1764 when Jan Karel Chotek purchased the Nové Dvory Estate. The Choteks ranked among the most significant Czech families and managed the Bělošice, Nové Dvory (Kutná Hora Region) and Veltrusy Estates. Jan Rudolf was however not very satisfied with the Nové Dvory Castle and ordered the construction of Kačina, which fulfilled his strictest demands for representation of a man of his stature.
The designer was Dresden architect Ch. F. Schuricht, but the building itself was built by Prague building councillor J. F. Joendel and in the last years by Olomouc archbishop’s building councillor A. Arche. The only elevated location in the broad surroundings known as "v Kačinách" was chosen as the construction site of the castle, which suited the requirement of Classicist aesthetics for construction of landmark buildings in such a manner that dominates their surroundings.
However, the progress of building construction was unfavourably affected by the Austrian state bankruptcy of 1811, after which construction was interrupted. In spite of this, the construction of Kačina Castle was completed to such an extent that Chotek could occupy it in 1823. The pavilion of the theatre and the chapel remained unfinished and the owner did not live to see their completion. The completion of the theatre was ordered by Chotek’s grandson Jindřich. The castle chapel has remained unfinished to date.
The Chotek Family lived at Kačina up to 1911 when the local family lineage died away and the estate was inherited by the nephew of the last Chotek, Quido Thun Hohenstein. However, he became heavily indebted due to his lavish lifestyle and for this reason he left Kačina Castle at the end of the 1930s. During World War II, members of the Hitler Youth movement occupied Kačina and in the last year of the war, the Nazi SS units.
In 1950 the building was endowed upon the Museum of Agriculture as museum and exhibition premises. After 1995, the initial agricultural and food expositions were expanded with a presentation of the life of various social strata of the 19th century in the countryside, and gradually the Chotek Library and Theatre were opened, and the so-called Chotek Exposition on the Chotek family, particularly the life of the generations tied to Kačina. In 2001, Kačina Castle became a national cultural monument under Government Decree.
The core of the castle disposition has become the two-storey building with a central entrance portico facing the east, whose Ionian columns connect both storeys of the building and carry the tympanum with sculptures, which were prepared by A. Schrott and V. Práchner according to the design by J. Bergler. Under the cornice is the Latin inscription: JAN RUDOLF EARL OF CHOTEK TO SELF, FRIENDS AND PROGENY 1802-22. The reliefs show the allegories of agriculture, hunting and flora. The core of this central building is the entrance circular hall, lighted via the window in the cupola, to which other representative rooms connect, for instance, the dancing hall, dining hall and reception lounge.
The central castle building housed the representative premises and the dwellings of the earl’s family, and the guest rooms were in the wings. One pavilion connects to the wings on each side. In the right wing is the incomplete castle chapel and the castle theatre was not completed until mid-19th century. In the left section is the Chotek Library initially with more than 40,000 volumes of fiction and non-fiction books from the 16th to the 19th centuries. A visit to the library is a real experience, and not only for lovers of books. Kačina Castle lies in an extensive English park, which was established in 1789 according to the designs by Viennese architect and botanist F. N. Jacquin.