The country of Bohemia is separated from Bavaria and Austria by the Bohemian Forest. In earlier centuries, when it was still a jungle, it formed a strong, secure protective wall against invading enemies. Archaeological relics suggest a continuous pre-Christian settlement in the region, probably due to the importance of the crossings between the river valleys of Moldau and Mühl.
On the hill above of St. Thomas village (1036 m.s.l.) you can see the hilly landscape of the borderland on the continental watershed between the Elbe and the Danube, the old crown lands of Bohemia, Austria and Bavaria. This strategic location directly on the "Säumerweg" between villages Haslach and Frymburk prompted Witigo of Krumau to found Wittinghausen castle in the middle of the 13th century. The original fortification consisted only of the tower and defensive walls.
The complex, as it can still be seen today, was expanded as early as the 14th century; the keep, measuring 14 x 17.5 meters, is one of the largest in Bohemia.
The iron curtain era
The isolation of the border area due to the construction of the "Iron Curtain" after the WW2 and the construction of a steel tower for airspace surveillance in the military restricted area made it impossible to visit the Wittinghausen ruins until 1990. The steel tower, around 100 m in front of the former castle gate, still stands today and is one of the last remaining relics from the time of communist isolation; it should be preserved as a memorial, now it serves the needs of phone-operators.
With the removal of the "Iron Curtain" in 1990, the ruins of Wittinghausen were handed over to the administration of the municipality of Přední Výtoň, which still owns the building today. But the condition of the walls and the keep was very bad, so entering was too risky and an entry ban had to be imposed.
Rescue and restoration
Surprisingly, it was the ranger in the local forest, Mr. Peter Ziegrosser, who after 1990 made the greatest contribution to events not only around Wittinghausen, but also around the church in settlement Saint Thomas. In 1998 in Vyšší Brod, during a conference about the Himalayas, he met and inspired the owner of a construction company and enthusiastic climber Mr. Miroslav Kovačičín.
In 1998, the newly founded citizens' association Vítkův hrádek, with the support of the municipality of Přední Výtoň, the district office and the district museum in Český Krumlov, acquired the site of the castle ruins for lease and set itself the goal of securing its construction and cultural restoration. Individual rescue stages were started between 1999 and 2005 with state subsidies. In July 2005, Wittinghausen was reopened to the public after 60 years.
Mr. Ziegrosser died in October 2004, just a few months before the opening, and unfortunately did not see his dream come true. Since May 30, 2020 a memorial metal plaque with his legendary statement has adorned the entrance hall of the castle in his eternal memory.
Because of age and health issues of it's members the citizens' association Vítkův hrádek ended its activity at the castle at the end of 2022 and the owner of the property - the municipality of Přední Výtoň - took over the care of the monument early next year.
Přední Výtoň municipality
Mayor: Mr. Dipl.-Ing. Pavel Gabriš
+420 380 735 924
+420 608 466 353, email@example.com
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