Remembering the Mimoň Chateau


The building containing the Town Museum of Mimoň (formerly a hospital) is an immovable monument listed in the National Heritage Register of the Czech Republic, no. 16199/5-4757.

A memorial book mentioned in the Tille’s Chronicle reads as follows: “After having acquired the local estates of Děvín and Mimoň by purchasing in 1650, Jan Putz of Adlersthurm, a high-born nobleman and knight and the Holy Roman Empire, Hungarian and Czech royal court majesty councillor and Member of the Czech Chamber … decided, as a truly Christian declaimer, to reach significant and commendable improvements with everyone. Since he was unable to exert such useful efforts for several years in a row, partly for him being absent to perform work for the Emperor, and partly for his severe insidious and threatening illness, he had to be postponing diverse matters to different times in future. Matters that eventually could not be arranged under good faith had to be abandoned by this gentleman, passing away in Vienna, 1660. It was on the 26th of June when he left this world, entrusting his soul to the Lord and passing the whole work to his two sons, Jan František Edmund and Jan Ignác Dominik.”

In addition to other major buildings, his obedient sons had a new hospital built in 1679. The hospital operations were funded through subsidies being acquired from diverse foundations, whether provided by authorities or wealthy citizens. For example, every resident of the hospital was receiving 1 shirt and 10 gold coins in cash on an annual basis, shoes and stockings on a biennial basis and a new garment on a triennial basis in the mid 18th century.

After the catastrophic fire of 1806, the building served as an accommodation facility for clergy during the repair of the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, as a place for school classes and church services, and one to keep relics from that church.

Between 1964 and 1992, the building hosted a town’s public library. After moving the library out, the building was preserved, waiting for its restoration.

In 2009, the towns of Mimoň and Złotoryja, the latter based in Poland, received along with the Mimoň Roman Catholic parish a grant under the Cross-border Cooperation Operational Programme between the Czech Republic and Poland for the period 2007-2013 to fund a project entitled “Tourism development in the border region: making Złotoryje and Mimoň available for tourists”. The period of extensive restoration included an archaeological survey conducted by the personnel of the Ethnographic Museum and Gallery in Česká Lípa. The opening ceremony took place on 7 August 2010.

Archaeological findings

After stripping the concrete floor from the twentieth century, archaeologists found remains of a wooden floor. The remains survived to the present in the form of beam prints in the soil and a sand sub-base under the boards, indicating with certainty that it was the first hospital floor originating from the 17th and 18th centuries. Below the floor, there was another surprise waiting for the archaeologists. In the depth of half a metre below the present surface, they uncovered a cultural layer rich in ceramic fragments typical for the period between the latter half of 13 century up to 15 century, with the layer thickness of several tens of centimetres. For the Mimoň area, this was the first-ever case of traces of medieval activities found north of the square of Náměstí 1. máje. Fragments of pottery as well as weaving spindles and metal items, particularly iron spikes, suggest that this site hosted one of the centres of the medieval settlement at the end of the period. Looking into the less recent sources also suggests that the Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre may have been built at the site of the medieval Church of Holy Cross. Also worth mentioning are prehistoric ceramics found within the medieval cultural layer beneath the floor, which most likely belong to the Bronze Age or the early Iron Age.

Remembering the Mimoň Chateau

Mimoň was once an important settlement system of the Česká Lípa Region in the early Middle Ages. However, there are no reliable sources dating from before the mid-16th century confirming the existence of any sort of aristocratic estate in Mimoň. Although the names Liutoldus de Mimon (Lutold de Nemans) and, probably his son, Ranuold appear in sources from 1256–1289, it is more likely that the Mimoň estate was merely a royal fiefdom on territory belonging to the sovereign.

In 1549, Karl von Bieberstein (b. 1528) registered half of the Děvín castle, half of the Ralsko farmstead, and the town of Mimoň, which he inherited from his ancestors, in the land register. As a Renaissance magnate of high standing, he needed to have not only the expensively reconstructed seat at Děvín, but also a manor house (which at the time was referred to as a “Wohnhauß” – residential building), from where he could be closer to his townspeople and manage the economic operations of his estates. Karl von Bieberstein began its construction some time around the 1550s. The date of completion is unknown, but in 1578, the annals speak of a newly-built residential building.

Extensive modifications to the estate and an expensive lifestyle resulted in huge debts for Karl von Bieberstein, which he settled by selling off his assets. He sold the entire Mimoň estate to Bohuslav Mazanec of Frymburk and Slatiňany. Sources speak of Mazanec’s exemplary care of the town, but we do not know anything about his residence. Following his death his heirs sold the indebted estate into the ownership of the aristocratic German family Myllner von Milhauz in 1601.

No longer living at Děvín, Johann Myllner von Milhauz settled in the new Mimoň chateau, whose interiors he had adapted and reconstructed in 1604. His son Jan joined the rebels during the Battle of White Mountain, and after their defeat, an imperial army was sent to Mimoň on 11 November 1620. The Polish stormed the town and even captured the chateau defended by the chateau dynasty. They looted, destroyed, and torched everything they came across in a furious rage over the fact that they did not receive their promised reward for capturing the rebels alive.

The confiscated and looted estate then changed hands a number of times, until the Mimoň and Děvín estates were bought on 5 January 1651 by Johann Putz of Aldersthurn, councilman of the Chamber of the Court.  Under his sons, the reconstruction of the chateau and the construction of the church and the so-called Holy Sepulchre were allegedly commenced by Italian architect Norberto Santino Bossi, who was, however, unable to continue in the work due to illness and was replaced by Giulio Broggio. The marriage of estate owner Johann Ignatius Putz was childless, and so he named his three nieces as his heirs. The oldest of the three, Maria Theresa Isabela, married to Ludwig Joseph von Hartig, inherited the Mimoň estate.

The main residence of the Hartigs was the chateau in Stráž pod Ralskem (Vartenberk), and the burgrave was placed in charge of the Mimoň chateau.  In 1806, however, Mimoň was engulfed by an extensive fire in which 283 buildings – primarily houses, the school, the church and parish office, the town hall with the municipal archives, and the chateau – were destroyed. Work on its restoration began in 1807 under the leadership of architect Pfocke of Zákupy. It was not until the 1820s, however, that the lavish Classicist reconstruction of the chateau got off the ground. The construction work itself was carried out according to plans signed by the owner of the estate up to the late 1830s. Further modifications took place after the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, and it was at this time that the chateau facade was painted. The Hartigs continued to take good care of the chateau and its surrounding area until World War II.

On 8 May 1945, Mimoň was bombed by the Soviet air force, destroying 8 houses and damaging dozens more. Approximately 10 aerial bombs landed in the area of the chateau. The chateau was confiscated by the government. The Hartig family lived in a section of the chateau until the end of October 1947. They were then evicted. Countess Sophia Hartig (b. 1921), née Valdštejnová now lives with her children in Austria.

The armed forces expressed an interest in the chateau, but their intent to demolish and rebuild it was met with disapproval by the National Heritage Institute. Beginning in 1956, ongoing negotiations on the further utilisation of the chateau were held. None of the projects were implemented, and the buildings gradually fell into greater and greater disrepair.

In October 1980, the Municipal People’s Committee of Mimoň sent a letter to the District People’s Committee of Česká Lípa regarding safety measures that needed to be carried out on the chateau, which was in a dilapidated state. This led to the issue of a demolition order. A historical construction study in 1985 supported the demolition plan.  A demolition blast of the northern section of the chateau took place on 28 April 1985. Demolition blasts of the southern wing and central section were to be carried out on 7 June 1985. Just before the blast however, a severe local storm blew over Mimoň during which lightning struck the chateau and ignited the prepared charges, which took care of the blasting of a large part of the central section. The rubble of the central section had to be removed under the supervision of bomb disposal experts and the entire building had to be re-inspected, after which the remaining sections were demolished on 9 June 1985. The chateau’s rubble was used to fill in the marshes along Českolipská Street below the Calvary monument, the location of today’s bus station.

You can learn about other interesting aspects of the town’s history in the exhibit at the Town Museum of Mimoň.

June 2016