Disposition of the castle
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The Osek Castle (sometimes called also Rýzmburk, Riesenburg or Rysenburch) is one of the most interesting medieval castles, and also one of the least rebuilt. Many authors have focused on the castle in their works. Detailed information can be found in a 15-volume study of the History of Czech castles written by A. Sedlacek (Sedlacek, 1927–37). Much useful information can also be found in the work of D. Menclova (Menclova, 1972), who wrote the latest important work in this area. Very significant was a historical and structural survey carried out by F. Gabriel (Gabriel, 1990).
From the standpoint of the overall research carried out by Durdik (Durdik, 1981) the Osek castle has grown in significance. The outcomes of the latest study of the development of Czech castles in the twelfth and thirteen centuries mention the Castle as an outstanding example of a concentric castle with perimeter buildings and a residential tower (the tower palace). Therefore the castle is very likely to be an important subject to further research.
The stone castle is located about 2,5 kilometres far from the Osek monastery. It was built upon a rocky promontory, which divides the adjoining valley into two parts. The valley is surrounded by the Krusne Mountains (the Spicak and the Stropnik mountains particularly) and contains the Osek town. That’s where the paths up to the mountains and further to the boarders used to lead. Streams surrounded the paths. The streams flow alongside the promontory, surrounding it from both sides, and flow together in the valley under it. The water from the streams was used to drive millwheels, probably even during the Middle Ages. The promontory in the form of narrow rock formation extends out into the valley from the northwest to the southeast. It disappears at the place of a former lodge and reappears again after 45 metres, just more east. It then raises more than 20 metres above the surrounding land – it thus constitutes the highest point of the castle area. This is where one of the highlights of the castle - the tower palace, was built. The place where the rock formation disappears separated the castle from its surroundings.
The north-eastern hillside is very steep and rocky, and ends with a stream and a path. The land then steeply rises again, forming the mountains. The south-western hillside is less steep and it gradually verges into a valley. A path and a stream surround the valley. Most of the castle building material was taken from the promontory - you can still notice the rock has been mined there if you look at it. The types of rock that can be found here are paragneiss and schist. Sandstone imported from some nearby area was also used for construction of the castle. A survey of the sandstone would be interesting, especially for the unique vicinity of the sandstone to the bedrock of Krusne Mountains. A 16-th century fountain in the city of Most was allegedly carved out of the Osek sandstone, too.
Osek is a concentric castle with three massive curtain walls in the shape of irregular ovals and buildings built alongside the inner walls. The first and the second oval together create a ward in the south-eastern part, and inner baileys in the northwest and northeast of the castle (those are not the typical fortification baileys though). The outer bailey (which is 200 metres long, and 70 metres high at its highest point) is nowadays accessible through a gap in the wall (which is about 15 metres broad) at the back of the promontory or through the original gate (greatly damaged nowadays) in the southeast. The gate probably used to be the main entrance to the castle, and there is still a path leading to it. It is protected by a 10 metres broad moat. South of the gate there is a platform that changes into a very steep hillside. Just under the platform we can see traces of an L-shaped object, which was probably part of the castle complex and was used for watching the nearby area. However, none of it was preserved. The terrain then goes further down for another 100 metres.
The path lead from the main gate down the hill and there it came together with another road. The crossroads was next to what is today a house number 21. A rocky formation that leads from the outer walls of the castle ends here. The very first castle gate probably used to be somewhere around here. This allegation is supported by the fact that pieces of sandstone (a piece from the gate portal and a piece of gate lining) were found next to the house. However, the pieces might have been transported from the castle only to build the houses nearby. The gate might have been connected to the rest of the castle by a castle wall or a palisade. Yet there is almost nothing left of that connecting structure nowadays, no visible traces in the terrain (except of a rather small rampart). However, this might be a consequence of agricultural activities that were carried out on the slope of the hill until quite recently. Whether the castle had yet another entrance cannot be determined with certainty unless another excavation is done.
Data and indicators
Area defined by the outer wall circuit (except of the brewery area) 8075 m²
Length of the outer wall circuit (including the gate, excluding the brewery) 455 m
Area of the inner ward (objects including) 1660 m2
Area of the inner castle (objects including) 1030 m²
The inner castle courtyard area 475 m²
The tower palace area 92,8 m²
The area of the western palace of the inner castle 165,6 m²
The area of the south-western tower of the inner palace 77,4 m²
Built-up chapel area (approximately) 130,0 m²
Zdroj: ing. Ivan Lehký, Hrad Osek