The Vltava River flows through a long, unspoiled, winding valley, packed in by surrounding hills north of Litoměřice. As you near heavily industrialized Ústí nad Labem, your vision is suddenly assaulted by the towering mass of Střekov Castle hanging precariously on huge cliffs and rising abruptly above the right bank. The fortress was built in 1319 by King John of Luxembourg to control the rebellious nobles of northern Bohemia. During the 16th century it became the residence of Wenceslas of Lobkowicz, who rebuilt the castle in the Renaissance style. These lonely ruins have inspired many German artists and poets, including Richard Wagner, who came here on a moonlit night in the summer of 1842 and was inspired to write his romantic opera Tannhäuser. If you arrive on a dark night, you may be reminded of another classic—Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Inside is a small historical exhibit about the Lobkowicz family and wine making. Guides do not speak English, but will
give you printed information in English, German, or Russian. The last admission is 30 minutes before closing time. This is an interesting-looking castle, and it's probably worth a stop if you happen to be driving by, but it's not a destination unto itself. Night tours (100 Kč) are occasionally offered in the summer, and there's a small gallery that hosts temporary exhibitions.