Historical Castle Lifts – Part 2

In its second half, the two-part article about lifts at Bohemian and Moravian castles will present not only passenger lifts, which mainly served the gentry, but special lifts as well which also made work for servants easier.

This time we will visit the summer-house Bellarie in Český Krumlov and the castles in Valtice, Hluboká nad Vltavou and Sychrov.


The summer-house Bellarie in Český Krumlov

The rococo summer-house Bellarie is situated in the gardens of the Český Krumlov chateau and castle next to the revolving theatre. The summer-house was built in early Baroque style in the period of Johann Christian von Eggenberg in the years 1690-1692. Later, under the reign of the Schwarzenbergs, it was rebuilt several times in Rococo style under the supervision of the builder Andreas Altomonte (1699-1780). The first reconstruction took place in 1746, when, among others, a food lift was built. It is situated on the ground floor in the west part of the building in a room adjacent to the kitchen. It was also called a magic table and it transported food from the kitchen straight in front of guests in the lounge on the first floor. Refreshments were supplied by the lift to the gentry without them being disturbed by the presence of servants. The entire technical equipment has been preserved (as if by miracle). By means of the rope mechanism, the equipment allowed pulling out, at the level of the dining room table, either the entire internal elliptic table top or separately two round trays to supply drinks. So this lift was not suspended, but pulled out similarly to a theatre trap, and with its construction it rather resembled modern hydraulic lifts.

Nowadays, the summer-house Bellarie is normally not open to the public and it is used as a background facility and one of the scenes for performances featured at the revolving theatre.

bellarie stul1


bellarie stul2


Valtice Castle

The state-owned Valtice Castle is a part of the Lednice-Valtice Area in southern Moravia. It gained its present appearance after a reconstruction in the years 1643-1730 and it had undergone a number of construction works before that. Its owners were the Lords of Liechtenstein and from the 16th century the castle was their main residence.

And it is the progressive thinking of the Liechtenstein family to which we owe the existence of the unique technical equipment in the castle rooms. The first passenger lift in Moravia was built in Valtice Castle between the years 1890 and 1910.

The lift cabin moved between individual floors suspended on a steel wire rope which was driven by an electric motor through a gearbox. The lift was equipped with many safety elements such as glazed sliding doors, a switching floor of the cabin, locking mechanical and electrical switches, etc. The cabin alone with accessories is original. However, the existing motor drive has been reconstructed before and it dates back to a later period.

Individual elements of the historical lift, or their character and functions have been preserved in passenger lifts up to this day. But the substantial difference compared to modern lifts is the design and workmanship of the cabin alone, and also other minor technical devices.

The lift cabin itself was spectacularly made and precisely constructed. The cabin is made of wood, it is lined probably by a mahogany veneer with numerous Art Nouveau elements. Inside the cabin, there are two vertical mirrors with chamfered edges on two opposite walls. The glazed front wall of the lift and also the sliding door are fitted with etched glass with Art Nouveau ornaments symbolizing flora. The door is also fitted with double-sided brass handles. The cabin lighting was located in the middle of the cassette ceiling. The floor is covered with linoleum which is partly fixed with brass strips.

The lift gradually fell into disrepair, which can be seen in its current condition. In the last period of its service it was used as lift for goods and then it was shut down and it was not possible to present this item of interest to castle visitors. Luckily, it was revealed to them again in 2006 after a costly reconstruction. The lift has a new light, a seat, and cleaned and silver-plated mirrors.



Hluboká nad Vltavou Castle

The individual castle floors in the Hluboká nad Vltavou Castle were connected with the kitchen by a food lift which was completed by a Prague company Jan Prokopec in 1907. The same company also built a passenger lift in the castle and it was driven by pressure water from the reservoir located in the roof space of the castle.


Sychrov Castle

Visitors to Sychrov Castle can see a special type of lift, a laundry lift made of wood. This lift was used to transport dirty or clean laundry upstairs or downstairs to the laundry. At the castle there is also a food lift outside of the visitor tour route.


Sources: (Czech)


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