Panenské Břežany Castle  

The village was first mentioned in a document from  1233 as a property of the Convent of Saint George at Prague castle. Originally it was called only Břežany but because of its owner the word Panenské (meaning Virgin) was added to the village’s name . There are two castles: the Upper and the Lower. The Upper castle was built on the site of a former fortress in the 18th century and served as a summer residence for St. George’s Benedictine nuns. Close to the Upper Castle  is the unique Chapel of St. Anne. This wonderful chapel is situated on the site of a former chapel which was burned down during a fire in  1691. The construction of this chapel was ordered by Abbess Helena Pieroni da Gagliano, who was the daughter of the mathematician and  architect Giovanni Pieroni. This unique chapel was designed by the famous baroque architect Jan Blažej Santini-Aichel. On this building, which belongs to his early works, we can find some elements  typical for him. On He collaborated on this project with his brother František Jakub, who was a stonemason. The chapel was built by Filip Spannbrucker between the years 1705 and 1707. The chapel was consecrated on 21st of August, 1707 by the abbot of the Strahov monastery Vít Seidl. This chapel was never to be rebuilt except for the year 1738, when the sacristy was added.

The monastery was dissolved by Joseph II and then the castle was to change ownership several times. In 1820 it was owned by Matyáš von Riese-Stallburg. He ordered the building of the Lower Castle on a site north-west from the Upper Castle. The construction of the Lower Castle began in 1840; this was built in the Empire style popular at the time and modelled on the 1st and 2nd French Empires. But the inheritors of this castle were to incur debts and the Upper Castle was bought by the industrialist Emil Gerstel, who later emigrated at the beginning of the Second World War. The castle together with its park and the Chapel of St. Anne was confiscated by the secretary of the Reichsprotektor, Karl Hermann Frank. Reichsprotektor Konstantin von Neurath then settled in the Lower Castle and after him the deputy Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heindrich  in  1941. His wife Lina Heindrich lived there after his assassination in year 1942 until the end of the war. After the Second World War a residential retirement home was established in the castle.