From prehistory to 1679

A very significant object is located in the southern part of the northern Bohemian village of Sloup v Cechách, situated close to Nový Bor. A lone standing sandstone rock steeply towers 30 metres above the surroundings – an alluvial valley. Hard accessible rock has provided a safe shelter for people probably ever since. The beginning of settlement in Sloup dates back more than four thousand years.

According to the scanty traces left behind from the Middle Ages, it can not be precisely specified whether the sight served as a castle in the sense of a manor or, at least at the beginning, whether it served only as a shelter for the locals when in danger. Therefore, in our case we probably can not speak of a real “castle establishment”. More likely is a gradual and, at the beginning, natural establishment of some parts of the castle and its single elements. It was only later that a member of the family of Ronovci could begin to develop more systematically some fortification.

On top of the rock, there are a number of rather small, irregularly shaped chambers roughly dug into the rock. They were once covered by wooden shelter, possibly including an additional storey. Worth mentioning is also a rectangular-shaped room, unlike other chambers situated in the depths of the rock, which was crossed diagonally with a new corridor during a Baroque reconstruction. In the “profile” there are evident remains of a medieval pillar supporting the flat ceiling (discovered by P. Randus, an amateur historian from Nový Bor). Interesting is also a jug-shaped, 7 meter deep storage room for grain, nowadays accessible from its side. In the walls of the wide western and especially northern crevasses, there are quite a number of pockets which reveal a former shoulder of wooden beams. The northern crevasse, which includes a well and a few rock rooms, was part of a medieval (originally Baroque) entrance and is nowaydays closed. The romantics may be disappointed to learn that much of the restructuring here was carried out during the Baroque era and that such structures as the “Knight’s Staircase” do not in fact date back to feudal times. However, the staircase is located on the spot, where in the Middle Ages, the locals used to press their way to the shelter with their bundles and out of breath when hiding from an enemy.

For the most part of the period stretching from the beginning of the 14th century to the beginning of the 17th century, the Sloup estate was owned by Berkové of Dubá, members of the family of Ronovci. Only between 1412 and 1471, the owners were Hanuš Welfl of Varnsdorf, Pancírové of Smojno and Vilém Ilburk. An interesting figure was Mikeš Pancír who took advantage of the local wars in the after Hussite Wars period led by the lords of the local borderland and Lusatian League in Upper Lusatia (=an alliance of six Lusatian towns). He was one of the leaders of the invasion of Lusatia where he caused significant damage. By punitive expeditions of Lusatian and Litomerice troops in 1444-5 the castle’s structural integrity was damaged.

In 1589, the “New house” was built approximately 100 metres north of the rock. This was sometimes called château (after 1733 old château ) and later called Berka’s house . Its builder, Adam Berka of Dubá died in 1607 and left no male descendant. The house has endured centuries, fires and many wars until finally in 1954 it could not resist the local authority procedure and with a keen help of the locals (as building materials were needed) it was demolished.

On the eve of the Battle of White Mountain, the estate was in the possession of the family of Solhauz. After Volf of Solhauz, one of the participants of the uprising of the Bohemian Estates, left to the exile in Saxony, the property was inevitably confiscated by the Habsburgs.

The region has not been spared of the wars of the modern times either. The Thirty Years’ War, bringing numerous plundering of conquered regions, has also reached Sloup, at that time possessed by the emperor’s adherent Zdenek Lev Libštejnský of Kolovraty. The region was suffering its heaviest damages when the Swedish army repeatedly marched through. To date, many common names have been preserved and are still used in the topography, such as the Swedish Crack or the Swedish Cave. In 1639, General Banér along with his army easily defeated the castle garrison consisting of only few soldiers. The consequent burning put a definitive end to the rock’s appearance until then. There are no castle representations known about of this period or those prededing it since first recorded in 1712 when the major part of modern times’ rebuilding has already been completed.

After the death of Zdenek Lev, the inheritance was passed on to his son from his first marriage, Václav František Libštejnský, a member of the Society of Jesus. De didn’t pay much attention to the maintenance of his estate and in addition, he donated his yield to the needs of church. The estate, seriously in debt, fell into the control of authorities and in the end was sold to the widow of Zdenek Lev, Katerina, born Katerina of Vrtba, who yielded Sloup to her son Ferdinand Hroznata, baron Kokorovec of Kokorov, in 1679.