The castle was founded in the middle of 13th century by the Czech king Přemysl Otakar II. In the middle of 14th century under the reign of Jan Jindřich and his son Jošt of the House of Luxembourg Špilberk became the seat of Moravian margraves. During the 17th and 18th century the castle was converted to a Baroque fortress is known as the „Jail of nations“ for its reputation of the most feared prison in Habsburg monarchy.
In 1645, when Brno and Špilberk headed by Raduit de Souches had withstood a three-month siege by much more numerous Swedish troops, the castle regained again its lost fame and importance. It was gradually rebuilt as the mightiest Baroque stronghold in Moravia. In 1783, the Emperor Joseph II decided to convert the stronghold into a civil prison for the heaviest criminals. For the purposes of the prison the casemates were adapted which might accommodate more than 200 convicts. In 1855 the Emperor Franz Joseph I abolished the Špilberk prison and three years later, when the last prisoners had been gone, Špilberk became a military barracks for another one-hundred years.
In 1939–1941 the German army occupied Špilberk making extensive modifications to convert it into a model barracks in the romantic-historicizing spirit of the then Pan-German ideology. In 1959 Špilberk was left by the Czechoslovak army and since 1960 it has been the seat of the Museum of the City of Brno. In 1963 it became a national cultural monument.
During extensive renovations to the castle carried out in the 1990s, the east wing including the Royal Chapel was significantly changed. The latest phase of renovation was completed in spring 2013 thanks to which the south wing has been open to the public.
It is a seat ot the Brno Museum, which offers permanent exhibitions concerned with the history of the castle and the city. The visitors are also allowed to take a walk through the casemates – dark grim rooms in the fortifications that used to serve as a recess of the soldiers and later as the prison cells for criminals guilty of felony. The castle is surrounded by a spacious park with a number of memorials where the visitors can enjoy a magnificent view of the city.
- Špilberk Castle - mp3 (, 492.25 kB)