Reliquary of Saint Maurus at Becov nad Teplou Castle

 

By Tracy A. Burns

Becov nad Teplou Castle

Not far from the popular spa town of Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad or Karlsbad) is the picturesque town of   Becov nad Teplou with its Gothic castle, Renaissance palace, Late Baroque chateau and terraced   gardens. Not far from the popular spa town of Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad or Karlsbad) is the picturesque town of Becov nad Teplou with its Gothic castle, Renaissance palace, Late Baroque chateau and terraced gardens. Perhaps the caste and chateau are best known for housing the Romanesque reliquary of Saint Maurus, which contains the relics of saints and is decorated with 12 reliefs, 14 vermeil statuettes and precious stones, for instance. There are two tours – one focused on the reliquary, the other showing off the interiors of the chateau. The Gothic castle is under reconstruction and will be open to visitors in the future.

The reliquary of Saint Maurus

The reliquary of Saint Maurus contains fragments from the bodies of three saints – Saint Maurus,   Saint John the Baptist and Saint Timothy.The reliquary of Saint Maurus contains fragments from the bodies of three saints – Saint Maurus, Saint John the Baptist and Saint Timothy. Saint Maurus was a martyr from the first or third century AD, but not much is known about him. However, recent DNA studies show that there are remains of five people in the chest, two of whom are men from the third century AD. The reliquary’s history can be traced back to 1225 to 1230, when it was made for a Benedictine abbey in Belgium.

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The reliquary makes its way to Becov nad Teplou

When Becov nad Teplou castle owner Alfred de Beaufort bought the reliquary in 1838 from a church in Belgium, he brought it to Becov nad Teplou and had it repaired. When his grandson had to flee the country in 1945 because he had collaborated with the Nazis, he hid the reliquary in a backfill of a chapel in Becov Castle. The reliquary remained hidden for 40 years, found in November of 1985 by criminologists. An American businessman wanted to buy the treasure for 250,000 USD, but the Czechs refused to sell it, not wanting it to leave the country.

The tour of the reliquary of Saint Maurus

On the tour focused on the reliquary, visitors see a video showing criminologists unearthing the chest in the chapel. Also, the demanding restoration process is explained. For example, the statues on the exterior of the chest, made of silver tin, took 11 years to restore. On the reliquary Saint Maurus grips a sword in one hand, and Jesus Christ is giving a blessing. On the roof are 12 large reliefs relating to the life of Saint Maurus and Saint John the Baptist.

History of Becov nad Teplou

From the 13th to 16th centuries, the castle and the town flourished thanks to its gold, silver and tin   mining.From the 13th to 16th centuries, the castle and the town flourished thanks to its gold, silver and tin mining. In fact, during the 16th century, Czech tin from the Becov region was touted as the best in Europe. During the 15th century, though, the Hussites destroyed the castle, and the Thirty Years’ War only made things worse. During the 18th century, the Kounic family bought the castle, adding the Late Baroque chateau and bridge. A key event in the history of the castle and chateau took place in 1813 when Friedrich Beaufort-Spontin took over as owner. The Beauforts made many improvements to the castle and chateau. Alfred Beaufort even created a Baroque style park and open-air theatre (no longer in existence) on the premises and brought the Saint Maurus reliquary to Becov nad Teplou.

Because his grandson Heinrich worked with the Nazis during World War II, the property was confiscated. The castle was plundered. Then various owners took over. The reconstruction process was a long one, taking place from 1969 to 1996.

The interiors of the chateau

During the tour of the chateau interiors, visitors will be awed by the impressive collection of graphics hailing from the 17th century Netherlands, including one rendition by Sir Anthony van Dyck. The Red Parlor, the library and the Tapestry Parlor are other places that will astound. The Tapestry Parlor features two huge tapestries relating the story of David and Goliath. Made in Brussels, they date from 1620 to 1630. The Saint Peter Chapel is another sight not to be missed. It was built in Neo-Romanesque style about 1870. A Baroque terraced garden is also on the premises.

Exploring the town

The town of Becov nad Teplou offers delights as well. From Golden Hill there are breathtaking views of the town and castle. There is also a panoramic trail, a botanical garden, a Jewish synagogue and the Rococo Church of Saint George. A museum of historic motorcycles and toys is located near the chateau, too.

A unique experience awaits you

While Becov nad Teplou may not be as popular as Karlstejn Castle or Konopiste Chateau, it is just as enthralling. The reliquary is remarkable, and the interiors are stunning. Becov nad Teplou is a gem, just waiting to be discovered.


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