The royal castle of Zvíkov standing high above the confluence of the rivers Vltava and Otava has a very long history. It was founded in the time of King Přemysl Otakar I (d. 1230) when the Hlízová tower was built. It is first mentioned in records from 1234. At that time it began to be occupied by the king's burgraves. Under King Wenceslas I the west wing was added and other objects arose round the five-cornered courtyard. The king's builders, who were working at the same time in Písek and later in Strakonice, decorated the courtyard with two-storeyed arcades, found up to that time only in church buildings. Přemysl Otakar II also devoted great care to Zvíkov, the royal palace and chapel were completed under him. The fortifications with the Hláska watch-tower were built up under Bavor III of Strakonice, in the 14th and 15th centuries they were reinforced, and around 1431 under burgrave Mikuláš of Krchleby a watersupply system was built.
When the Přemyslides died out Zvíkov was pawned to the Rožmberks. They with their ready credit poficy were able to retain Zvíkov under the Bohemian kings until 1473 when Jindřich of Rožmberk transferred it to his uncle, Bohuslav of Švamberk, together with the monastery in Milevsko. The Švamberk white swan waved over Zvíkov until the castle was confiscated after the Battle of the White Mountain. The Švamberk period was a boon for Zvíkov. Besides the busy social life at the end of the Middle Ages and beginning of Renaissance most of the murals originated in this period when Bohuslav had the Zvíkov halls decorated. A brewery was built in the grounds (1550) and in 1561 to 1597 the builder, Hons Vlach, remodelled the castle.
The Švamberk garrison did not capitulate to the Emperor until in 1622 when the castle was plundered and the rich Švamberk archives were also lost. From then on, the castle ceased to serve as a residence and gradually deteriorated. The next owners, the Eggenbergs and after them the Schwarzenbergs, used it only for farming, and the royal palace even served as a granary. The castle had to wait until the years 1840 to 1844 when Karel Schwarzenberg made efforts to save it and had the Hlízová and Hláska towers repaired and a new roof put on the castle chapel. After 1880 extensive restoration work began, the arcades in the courtyard and parts of the ruined object were rebuilt.
Today visitors can admire the murals in the St. Wenceslas Chapel dating from the end of the 15th century, and the some - what later murals in the Wedding Hall. The Throne Room in Hlízová tower served at one time, before Karlštejn Castle was built, as a hiding-place for the Bohemian Crown Jewels. Today the altar of the Adoration of the Magi is installed there. A fragment of the Late-Gothic altar with the Lamentation for Christ in relief by the Master of the Zvíkov Lamentation can be seen in the St. Wenceslas Chapel.
The Devil haunts Zvíkov according to builder Hons Vlach who wrote a report of his experience with him which visitors can read above the entrance to the royal palace. That inscription may have inspired Ladislav Stroupežnický in his "Zvíkov Goblin".
You can visit Zvikov on the following tours: Cesky Krumlov to Prague along the Vltava River.