Hidden Mysteries: The Lost Treasures of the Czech Lands

On this day, dear reader, you will learn of some of the arcane treasures that may or may not lie hidden beneath the Lands of Bohemia. It is the case after all that any respectable historical mystery ought to involve chests filled with ancient artefacts and glistening gold coins, and this captivating land very much awaits those bold enough to seek them out. So pack your bags, sharpen your wits, and prepare to unveil the secrets of the Czech Republic’s lost treasures.

A Land Enchanted: History of Untold Riches and Forgotten Glory

Nestled in the heart of Europe lies Bohemia, where the whispers of forgotten tales and bygone eras still linger, echoing through its rolling hills and valleys. These lands are situated at the crossroads of Europe, a strategic location for trade routes, military campaigns, and cultural exchanges, which has historically attracted various peoples and civilizations – the Celts, Romans, Germanic tribes, Slavic tribes, and others. With the constant movement of persons and goods, treasures have been lost, hidden, and buried here along the way. There is also the wealth accumulated by rulers, nobles, and religious institutions which resided in Bohemia over the centuries, much of which stayed behind in some form or another. And let us not forget about the wars that were waged on Czech soil – the Thirty Years’ War, Hussite Wars, both World Wars and countless others, depositing all sorts of curious artefacts. Nor about the bounty of castles, monasteries, and other historical structures, many of which have underground passages, secret chambers, and hidden compartments, perfect for concealing items.

Needless to say, dear reader, the Czech republic seems to have all but been made for Lost Treasures, so allow me to introduce you to just a couple of them.

The Shrouded Fortunes of Castle Český Šternberk

The first on our treasure map is Castle Český Šternberk, a mid-13th century Gothic castle on the West side of the river Sázava, nicknamed by travellers as the ‘Golden River’. That, dear reader, is where matters get interesting, because according to legends, Český Šternberk hosts not one, but three different hidden treasures.

Rift into the Deep: A Farmer’s Woeful Tale and a Treasure of the Underworld

This tale speaks of a split in the bedrock near the Castle, with riches hidden within. There is a catch though – the split is watched over by the Devil. That is how it happened that one day, a farmer was passing by when a terrible storm descended on the land. To hide from it, the farmer sought shelter in a nearby rock foundation, particularly in a crevice in one of the larger rocks. The cruel storm raged on for a long time, and as hours passed, the farmer, weary from his travels, fell asleep – and what a misfortune that was. Shortly after, the Devil appeared, having been passing by, and his eyes landed on the sleeping man. Immediately, he assumed the worst – that the farmer was a common thief who was here to steal the treasure. Enraged, the Devil soared over to the innocent man and took him in his grasp, before carrying him off to Hell. Just as he did this, a bone-chilling roar was heard over the land, and the rift in the rock closed.

After the farmer was not returning home for a worrisome amount of time, his wife sent their farmhand to go look for him, and so he did. The farmhand retraced his steps all the way to the rock, where he found the familiar split now gone, and a shred of the farmer’s travelling cloak hanging from it. All the more, there was a large hoof print in the soil next to the rock.That is when the farmhand knew what had happened to his master, and with a heavy heart he returned to the wife, relaying the terrible news. The poor woman grieved for a long time at the undeserving fate of her husband, passing much of her sadness into the surrounding land. Her husband never returned to her.

It is said in the local folklore however that each year, on Easter Friday, the rift reopens for just a moment and gold rains down from it and into the Sázava river below. Not in the form of coins or jewellery, but as delicate golden scales. Hence, the Golden River.

It is absolutely true that people have been mining gold along Sázava, mind you successfully, for centuries, so perhaps there may be some truth to its supernatural origin as well?

Lost to the Land: A Knight’s Precious Gold

The faint jingle of ancient coins sounds through the castle’s dimly lit chamber. Amidst the dancing shadows cast by flickering torches, a shrouded figure bends over a chest overflowing with riches. With cautious glances over his shoulder he mutters to himself, his face etched with fear.

Who is ‘he’ you may ask, dear reader? A mere thief? An adventurous treasure hunter? Not quite. It’s the former lord of Castle Český Šternberk, renowned across the lands for his insatiable greed. This lord was rather obsessively fixated on his own fortunes, and was meticulously counting the money he just garnered from selling a remote land previously under his ownership.

Within said chest lie a fortune of one hundred thousand gleaming gold pieces, and despite the fortress of iron and sevenfold locks on the chest itself, the nobleman only knew restless nights, worrying ceaselessly that his riches will be taken away. That is why when duty summoned him to distant Vienna, he was reluctant to leave his entire fortune behind, and divided it in two. One half, he took with him, while the second half he entrusted into the hands of his loyal steward, Hynek.

Knowing how much his master worried for the gold, and fearing the prying eyes of the castle’s servants, Hynek orchestrated a clandestine concealment after his Lord’s departure. Under the veil of night, he transferred the treasure to a sturdy sack, locked it inside a metal coffer, and then moved it to a safe location outside the Castle’s walls that only he knew.

Unfortunately for the Lord, fate’s hand intervened. During a ride across the estate, Hynek succumbed to a sudden stroke, carrying the secret of the hiding location to his grave. Upon his return, the castle’s Lord searched everywhere he could, from the castle’s halls to the depths of the Sázava river. Alas, the treasure remained hidden, its whereabouts now known only to the silent stones of Český Šternberk lands. Thus, dear reader, the tale of fifty thousand gold pieces endures, patiently awaiting the brave soul who will be persistent enough to seek them out.

The Twelve Apostles and a Different Dimension: An Invisible Passage with a Hidden Cypher

The third treasure of Český Šternberk may be hidden at the end of a long underground passage, connecting the gothic castle to a nearby Augustinian monastery. As the tale of this passage travelled through the centuries, it has been called by the locals the Alphabetical Passage, and that is because in order to gain entrance, you must know a rather sophisticated order of letters and symbols hidden around the castle. It is said to be a kind of complex cipher created by a builder and occultist Matyáš Wagner, originally from the Czech city of Olomouc.

I must warn you, dear reader, that in case you had your eye set on this particular treasure, it may be quite the challenge. As repairs and reconstructions were conducted over the years, many of said symbols and letters could have been destroyed for all we know, so it is not impossible that the path to the treasure may be lost forever, unless there is another way in…

So, let me tell you what this treasure consists of. The most common word-of-mouth is that within this passage are twelve statues of the Apostles, made of either silver or gold. There are however also those, and they do mainly come from the ranks of paranormal investigators, who believe that it is not so much a treasure that the passage leads to, but a one-way gateway to parallel worlds or a different dimension. Český Šternberk has, as far as we can tell, not experienced significant intrusions by foreign beings or entities, but paranormal investigators have measured a lot of residual energy and paranormal activity in the area of the Castle’s banquet hall, as well as a strong force field of unknown origin. This is why the banquet hall is their top candidate for where the entry to the secret passageway may be.

The existence of unexplored underground passages in the castle was confirmed by a researcher and underground expert Karel Pokorný. In one of his interviews, he said that: “When we came to Český Šternberk, there was a very kind and willing lady custodian. We asked her about the underground passages and she said, yes, there is an underground structure here.” She proceeded to describe how she and her colleagues discovered an underground passageway which connected to a cellar, and that there is a crack somewhere along the way that leads further down. They were unfortunately unable to get any deeper, and since then, authorities have prohibited entry. One can only wonder why…

Echoes of the Crusades: Pursuing Templar Secrets in Bohemian

I imagine that the Knights Templar is a name you may be familiar with, dear reader, and they certainly deserve plenty of credit for much of the hidden treasures and mysteries that are buried through the Bohemian lands today.

The Knights Templar – The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon in full, were a military order tasked with protecting Christian pilgrims on their journey to the Holy Land, particularly during the unsteady era of the Crusades in the 12th century. Established around 1119, they quickly rose to prominence, acquiring vast wealth and power through donations, land grants, army pursuits, and banking activities. A distinct white mantle adorned with a red cross became a symbol of their order, and they were renowned for their military capabilities which played a significant role in key battles during the Crusades. Unfortunately for the Order, their rapid ascent also attracted jealousy and suspicion. Accusations of heresy, corruption, and secrecy led to their eventual downfall. In 1307, King Philip IV of France, in league with Pope Clement V, orchestrated a dissolution of the order, and it was a harsh one. Many of the Templars were killed, burned, tortured, while others barely managed to escape or were recruited into different military factions. Despite their demise, the legacy of the Knights Templar endures as one of history’s most intriguing enigmas.

Ancient Statues and Political Intrigues: The Templar Treasure at Castle Veveří

One of the locations on our soil that seems to hold Templar legacy is Castle Veveří, and the treasure it may hold is one you are already familiar with – the twelve silver or gold statues of the apostles. You see, the tale of Český Šternberk is not the only potential resting place of these statues. Another legend, closely linked to the Knights Templar, indeed places them at Veveří.

The twelve statues, said to perhaps hold ancient secrets within their stone forms, once graced the town of Hnězdo in Poland. History recounts that in the year 1039 they were, along with the revered remains of St. Adalbert, seized by an ambitious Czech Prince – Břetislav I. The Prince was chronicled by the priest and historian ‘Cosmas as the ‘Czech Achilles’. For two centuries thereafter, the whereabouts of the statues were unknown, and the knowledge of their existence only whispered about through generations.

It wasn’t until the dawn of the 13th century that rumours began to surface that the sculptures’ sanctuary may lie within the walls of the secluded Cistercian monastery of Porta Coeli near Tišnov, founded by Queen Constance, widow of Přemysl Otakar I.

Not long after, the tranquillity of the monastery was disrupted by the arrival of the Templar knights. In the early 14th century, the knights claimed ownership of Veveří Castle and with it learned of the hidden treasures that may lie in the nearby monastery. That is why in the year 1306, in the city of Olomouc, the Templars are said to have orchestrated the murder of Czech King Wenceslas III, gaining access to the keys of the Cistercian monastery’s secret chamber. It is said that they found the statues and moved them to Veveří under the cover of darkness. As you read previously, dear reader, their Order was however forcefully shattered cca 1311, and with it the knowledge of the statutes’ precise whereabouts.

Alas, as it usually is, word-of-mouth has carried on, and legend says that in 1782, lightning struck the castle tower of Veveří, revealing a tin poppy-head containing documents with instructions on finding the silver sculptures. These instructions, however, were cryptic. They went as follows:

“Now the peacock guards the treasure,
when the day is to the night the least equal,
when on the whole astronomical clock strikes the fifteenth hour,
the peacock’s tail on the treasure will stand.”

Despite attempts to follow them, only a cellar with coffins supposedly belonging to the Templars, and twelve bricked-up female skeletons were discovered. Although just a tale, the story intrigued even the communist State Security, leading to a survey of the Veveří underground over forty years ago. Still, believe it or not dear reader, the location of the statues remains elusive.

Curious Legends and Legacies: Knights Templar at Castles Štamberk and Templštejn

Though there are many more places around Bohemia where the Templars left their mark, and all of them are without a doubt worthy of exploration, two other particularly notable examples do come to mind – Castle Štamberk and Castle Templštejn. Both were, at one point in time, occupied by the Templars, and both have, as per local folklore, Templar treasure hidden somewhere deep inside their walls.

In the case of Štamberk, the Knights are said to have hidden their treasure in a small alcove within the castle walls. The fortune, whatever it may have been exactly, was too heavy for them to carry as they were forced to abandon the fortress upon the Order’s disbanding. They entrusted the knowledge of its whereabouts to only three Knights who would stay behind in secret and guard it till more of their fellow brethren could return and take it away safely. It seems they never got the chance, and as time passed, the three Knights dug a well at the entrance to the cellar to secure and mask it, as well as create an obstacle that any thief would have to get across. It seems like they were successful, because the treasure has yet to be found, seven hundred years later.

Templštejn is no lesser of a curiosity. Much like Štamberk, it served the Templars as a military base. Templštejn was in fact the official stronghold, or commandery of the Knights Templar in the Moravian and Bohemian regions. It was founded by them around the 1280s and 1290s, and much like their other property, they had to flee suddenly upon King Philip IV and Pope Clement’s unforgiving sentence. There are several preserved writings still today that allude to a network of secret corridors and rooms beneath the Castle’s ruins, where the Templars hurriedly hid their fortunes before fleeing the land in fear of death and persecution by the authorities. What’s more, Templštejn does seem to experience a great deal of paranormal activity. Three Templar Knights in particular appear to have stayed behind in spirit. Their apparitions are seen over and over again patrolling the Castle, much like the three Templars who were ordered to stay behind at Štamberk. One can only imagine what a lonely and troubled fate that might’ve been, to see your brothers in arms hunted down, and giving up everything you fought for with your life, before being left behind to hide a treasure that you may never get to reclaim.

The Bohemian Lands: A Well of Souls and Treasures Long Forgotten

As I imagine you may have figured by now, dear reader, today’s article just barely scratches the surface of what may be hidden in the various caves, castles, passages and ruins of Bohemia. From other secret military orders, to Napoleon and the Nazis, the treasures that have passed through this country are near-endless, and many are certain to have found their resting place here. You can be sure to find more writings on the topic of lost treasure here in the future, but till then, grab your map and throw on your adventurer’s hat, because you never know what you may find if you look closely enough…

Neli Kozak