The ruins of this mid-fourteenth-century castle lie about seven miles northwest of Prague. The name Okoř is thought to be related to the word ‘kořen’, or ‘root’, and is the subject of a colourful tale in which Přemysl the ploughman, founder of the Přemsylid dynasty, is said to have stumbled on a tree-root on the way to his stronghold at Vyšehrad.
In 1359 František Rokycanský, a wealthy alderman of Prague’s Old Town, was granted the castle and surrounding lands by order of the emperor Charles IV. During the centuries that followed the castle was remodelled as a renaissance (and later, baroque) palace. These developments have since fallen into disrepair. The original gothic chapel, however, is still preserved at the foot of the magnificent five-storey central tower.
Eventually the castle passed to the Jesuits, but was effectively abandoned following the dissolution of the order in the last quarter of the 18th century. Okoř today is popular with weekend tourists, and forms a suitably impressive backdrop to mediaeval festivals held in the surrounding fields.