We are at that phase in our parenting where The Teenager excuses us for the day in order that she do her own thing. It is a good phase. With another sunny and warm day ahead of us, it thus took little time to point the car toward the Czech Republic; specifically into eastern Moravia in search of a couple of Zamek (Czech for “chateau”).
Zamek Buchlovice was our first destination, about two hours from Vienna (or, a little more if you make every possible wrong turn in rural Moravia). The chateau was a gift from the last Austro-Hungarian Empire foreign minister to his Italian wife, designed to make her feel more at home. We learned that it is the purest form of a Baroque villa in Central Europe, whatever that means, but we don’t know if the Italian Mrs. was comfortable there.

The chateau is also noted for hosting talks by the political big cheeses in 1908 that resulted in the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina from the Empire. Though the move was intended to preserve the delicate balance of power in the Balkans at the time, we all know that this plan irked the Serbs and, well…

The gardens are splendid, some designed in English style.

Who wouldn’t want a moat?

Resident peacocks add their own color and grace to the grounds, too.

On one of our wrong turns leaving Zamek Buchlovice we passed this lonely church on a hilltop.

Continuing on our search for Zamek Milotice I spotted a sign for a synagogue in Straznice and we detoured.  Intact synagogues are a little bit rare around here; this particular one was even more unique in that its cemetery borders on three sides. The oldest legible tombstone in the cemetery dates to the mid 1600’s. Of the 154 Jewish persons living in Straznice deported by the Nazis in 1943 only 13 returned after the war.  Now the synagogue is used as a museum and for concerts.

In good order (that is, only one final wrong turn) we found Zamek Milotice, a striking Baroque structure tucked into the Moravian vineyards along the Slovakian border. The chateau was once owned by an important Hungarian Count who was into horses and pheasantry, and the interior of the chateau contains portraits of his favorite stallions (no photos, of course).

On the grounds there is a refuge center for birds of prey. We wandered first past this “bird of prey” who was clearly not happy with my attempt to snap a photo of her little “birds of prey.”

There are almost 90 “Heirloom” castles and chateaux identified by the official Czech Tourism folks in our handy little book. To date we have visited 15. We have a lot of work ahead of us.