If you prefer to listen to this article, click here: Bond’s Elbow
A little town, only about 20 minutes drive to the border with Germany, where Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the author of i.e. Faust and The Sorrows of Young Werther, a romantic poet, writer, lawyer, philosopher and public servant in the 18th century Germany, used to visit and reside.
In his 70s he was deeply in love with a teenager, Ulrike von Levetzow whom he used to meet with in Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary – a nearby city) and Marienbad (Marianske Lazne) but whom he never even proposed to due to opposition from her mother! Geee, good woman!
From that time we have the Marienbad Elegy though, so nothing wasted. Especially that he soon after fell in love with a Polish pianist, Maria Agata Szymanowska, so the guy was full of feelings and did not waste the time for tears.
Anyway, from all that we have a lovely restaurant in this little Czech town, that is called Loket, named after Herr Goethe, and it is at the table of this very restaurant where Daniel Craig aka James Bond 007 meets Vesper Lynd for a chat with their MI6.
I’m talking about Casino Royale, 2006.
Although the town pretends to be an unknown location in Montenegro, unfortunately the makers forgot to change the name of the hotel on the opposite side of the square and it screams Bílý Kůň (Hotel White Horse) in the movie. See for yourselves 1’40”:
The rest of the movie was filmed in a nearby Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary) and in Prague (Praha).
So Loket… hmmm… literally translated as Elbow from Czech. Here you have it where the River Ohře takes a sharp turn just before a huge rock on which the castle and the old town are built and this very turn resembles the shape of an elbow.
There are old town walls here surrounding the rock which are great for a sneaky kiss actually as not too many people go there really 🙂 Well, you may be observed by the spooky looking goats that live on the rock. The weirdest of things I have seen. They have black eyes with tiny, very bright yellow slits.
These days goats don’t like their rock that much and they tend to run away, which happens to be a local attraction.
On the opposite side of the river you will see a beautiful open air amfitheatre where some great shows take place; theatre plays, concerts, etc. Every year it hosts a National Czech Opera Festival.
Imagine you’re sitting in one of these amphiteater seats and it’s dusk and in front of you, just about 10 metres ahead accross the river, you have this… Hrad Loket – Loket Castle.
You should know that Czech Republic is a country that issues maps of castles and palaces as there are so many of them there.
The castle was built mainly for one purpose; to defend the borders with Germany. This was around 10th century however the first written mention of it dates back to two centuries later. As such, the actual ruler who built the fortress is also unknown and there are three names on the plate here. The general statement is that the castle was built in the 12th century by King Vladislav II and it was renowned as the Key to the Kingdom of Bohemia.
The rotunda and the tower come from the original Romanesque era but the majority of the building dates back to the pre-16th century Czech Gothic.
It is from here that the famous Roman emperor and bohemian King Charles IV, yep the one from the Charles bridge in Prague, used to go on his hunting sprees and this is where and how Karlovy Vary have come into life. See my other blog post here:
The Castle was believed to be the one which once conquered, meant the conquest of the entire country. It belongs to the town since the 16th century. From 1898 it is a museum.
The castle’s collection of precious minerals includes a fragment of the Loket meteorite also known as Elbogen. It fell in Loket around 1400 and weighed about 107 kg. For scientific research it was cut into smaller pieces. These fragments are in the possession of several museums in Europe and North America.
Visitors can see a chamber of torture in the underground, a collection of arms and diverse old military equipment as well as an extensive collection of the 19th and 20th century porcelain.
Loket is a tiny town with a huge history. Because of its location, want it or not, it became a melting pot of the Czech and German people and cultures. As west of the Czech Republic is very rich in minerals many skilled German workers lived in the area for hundreds of years, invited by the cities, due to their knowledge of mining.
In 1811 Fridrich Mohse, German geologist and minerologist, discovered kaolin in the area. This mineral can be used for production of porcelain and paper. 5 years later Mrs Josefa Haidingerová and her two sons built the first pottery factory which initially functioned as a branch of a, then famous, vienese porcelain factory to only one year later gain independency and continue to function for over a century.
Unfortunately 19th and 20th centuries saw plenty of cruelty here. Many of the German settlers were forced out of their properties as a result.
Loket often turns into a backround for Czech, German, Polish, Russian historical movies and among them you may also find some telling the actual story of its own inhabinants.
The beautiful Sokolovsky Les (Sokolov Forest) that surrounds the town has seen many terrible scenes too in the past. Now however, together with the Ohři river it is a wonderful recreational destination where one can enjoy free time actively by trekking, mountain biking, rafting, kayaking and many more.
The central section of the main street resembles a square and it is the very heart of Loket’s Old Town. The main landmarks are the Baroque town hall from 1696 and the Column of the Holy Trinity. There are a few hotels and restaurants on the square including the previously mentioned Goete.
The End…. but to be continued….
Anna, Agent 008
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