Renaissance residence

House of Berka of Dubá

Zákupy is located in the Northern Bohemia, east of Česká Lípa. In the location of the current chateau, a gothic fort was standing as early as the 14th century. Some sources indicate that it belonged to the knights from Smojno. However, in 1365 the house of Wartenberg took over, to own Zákupy until the late 15th century. The first explicit written record of the fort dates back to 1383.

   Since the end of the 15th century, Zákupy belonged to the house of Berka of Dubá. Peter Berka was recorded as the owner in 1493. Zdislav Berka of Dubá, an avid supporter of Ferdinand I., the supreme judge and then supreme governor of the Kingdom of Bohemia, and also the land governor in Lusatia, acquired the Zákupy Chateau, including the yard below the chateau, in 1518 from Peter Berka. Then, Zdislav started a generous reconstruction of his new residence. He built a new and large palace (15x55m) on the eastern side of the southern medieval building. As the courtyard had already been significantly higher than the surrounding valley, the new palace had two additional floors to compensate for the difference.

  Zdislav Berka died in 1553; after several years, Zákupy was acquired by Zbyněk Berka. In 1573, the chateau was nearly destroyed by a fire, which required another reconstruction.

   In 1612, the Berkas passed Zákupy to the house of Kolowrat. The last member of this house who owned Zákupy was Zbyněk. During his reign in 1630-1631, the records mention the new chapel.

The Baroque area

Dukes of Saxe-Lauenburg and Anna Maria Francesca of Tuscany

   After Zbyněk’s death in 1632, Zákupy was inherited by the widow Anne Magdalena of Lobkowicz; the same year, she married Henry Julius, Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg. He came to Bohemia in 1617 and soon acquired substantial fortune, in return for his military service (Ostrov nad Ohří) and also by marriage (Zákupy). During his reign in 1632, the chateau was plundered by the Swedes, which probably resulted in increased building activity. In the end of his life, Julius started preparing the reconstruction of the chateau, but it was only realized by his son Julius Francis. 

   The construction works began in 1670; in the following year, the architect Giovanni Domenico Orsi already worked at Zákupy. In 1689, Julius Broggio became the managing project designer.  Julius Francis died the same year, and Zákupy was inherited by his elder daughter Anna Maria Francesca. The building of a generous rural residence continued. Gradually, a 4-wing chateau was built, with a stone bridge and a beautiful aviary; also built was the new terrace garden and the large yard, while the area in front of the chateau was rebuilt. The project featured a new horserace track, a pond, a pheasantry and a game park.

After the death of Anna Maria Francesca in 1741, Zákupy was inherited by Anna Maria Carolina, and then her son Clemens Francis. He died childless in 1770, and the domain went to Charles II August, a member of the Palatine house and the Duke of Zweibrücken. At that time, the downfall of Zákupy began, the equipment was gradually sold, the game park and the pheasantry ceased to exist. The front area was rented to the Leitenberger spinning factory.

The Habsburg residence

   In 1805, Zákupy was traded to the Tuscany line of the Habsburg house. After the downfall of Napoleon, it was necessary to safeguard the position of his son Napoleon II, from the emperor’s marriage with Maria Louisa, sister of Ferdinand V.  According to the agreement, the archduke of Tuscany should resign from his domains in Bohemia (including Zákupy) in favor of Napoleon II, and should get Lucca in return. This agreement should have been fulfilled after the death of Maria Louisa, the lawful owner of Lucca. In the meantime, the Austrian emperor Francis I, grandfather of Napoleon II, promoted Zákupy to a duchy (1818) and Napoleon II was granted the title of Duke of Zákupy. Nevertheless, he never visited Zákupy personally because he died of tuberculosis at 21 (July 2, 1832). Maria Louisa died in 1847, Lucca was taken over by Tuscany, and Zákupy, together with other Tuscan domains, become private property of the Austrian emperor Ferdinand I. He abdicated in 1848, and chose the Prague Castle for his permanent residence. Zákupy and Ploskovice became his summer retreats.

   In 1850-1853, the indoor areas of the castle were significantly revamped: the damaged frescos on the ceilings were painted over, walls were covered in wallpaper, tiled stoves and new furniture were installed in the rooms, all in the uniform style of the second Rococo, then very popular. The decorations of the indoor areas were made by the court decorator Josef Veselý, the painter was Josef Navrátil. The latter also designed the wallpapers, decoration fabrics, several pieces of the furniture, and the stove.

   Ferdinand I was the last real user of the chateau; after his death in 1875, the chateau was only sparsely visited by the members of the royal dynasty. However, in the following year 1876, the new owner, Emperor Franz Joseph I, made Zákupy the venue of his political meeting with the Russian Tzar Alexander II. Also the crown prince Rudolph visited the chateau several times with his wife Stéphanie of Belgium during his term in the Prague garrison.

   On July 1, 1900 the much-discussed wedding of the heir presumptive Franz Ferdinand d'Este and the Duchess Sophie of Hohenberg took place at the chateau. The venue wasn’t chosen at random – at the turn of the century, Zákupy was often used as the summer residence by the groom’s stepmother, Princess Maria Theresa of Braganza, who was in favor of this marriage of love.

   In 1918, after the downfall of the monarchy, the chateau, together with other imperial property, was taken over by the Czechoslovak state; it has been state property ever since.