Mělník – Where the Elbe and Vltava meet

Photo: Blanka Kvapilová, Czech Radio

The most beautiful view of the confluence of the Elbe and Vltava rivers can be either from the terrace of Mělník Chateau or the city’s church tower.

It is not just the Vltava river that flows into the Elbe at Mělník, but also the Vltava canal. It is this canal that actually confuses some visitors who believe that it is the real Vltava pouring into the Elbe, because it more easily visible than the spot where the two rivers meet.

The Elbe springs to the north of Mělník in the Krkonoše mountains, but comes into Mělník from the south-east. Although this river is actually less massive than the Vltava at the point of confluence, the water mass that flows out of Mělník and through Germany into the North Sea retains the name Elbe. On Czech territory it is the Vltava that is the country’s longest river, spanning 430 kilometres from its spring in the Šumava National Park.

Mělník Chateau – traditional residence of Czech queens

Due to its convenient location, the area of the Mělník Chateau has been a place of settlement since the Neolithic period. During the ninth and tenth centuries Mělník was a Slavic fortress. According to legend, it was the settlement where Duchess Ludmila educated her grandson Saint Wenceslas, who is said to have grown vines there. Evidence suggests that Mělník was indeed being used as a widow’s retreat for Czech duchesses and later queens from around the year 1,000.

The last Czech queen to live in Mělník was Johanka of Rožmitál, the wife of Jiří of Poděbrady. She died there in 1475. The castle underwent Romanesque and Gothic alterations, but was later rebuilt into a chateau and received further Baroque alterations towards the end of the seventeenth century. From 1793 the chateau belonged to the Lobkowicz family, who received it back in restitution in 1992 shortly after the fall of communism.

The chateau is now listed as a cultural monument with some parts open to the public.

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