Please click on
a link bellow to see
our recent offer!
Prague Tours
Prague Tours in English,
German, Russian,
Spanish and Japanese
Private Prague
Boat Trips
& Transfers
Watch Video Clips
Country Trips
- by Direction

- by Interest
All Trips A-Z
Package Tours
Outside Prague
Romantic and
Adventure Tours
Price List
Rent of Apartments

Archduke Franz Ferdinand d'Este

The assassination of Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophia Chotek started WWI.

Order Tour Code: C B7
Tour availability: Tour available in summer season

Since the killing of Franz Ferdinand d´Este and his wife triggered the first World War, which was largely responsible for a great deal of the rest of the century, Franz Ferdinand is considered by some scholars to be the single most important man of the 20th century.

Originally the 13th century castle was the last seat of the archduke Franz Ferdinand killed in Sarajevo in 1914 with his Czech wife Sophia Chotek, the assassination started World War I. It houses valuable art collectins and the 3rd largest European armoury. A viewing of the private rooms of Franz Ferdinand´s family is a highlight and must be booked in advance. Maximum number of persons for the tour is 8 people. It is closed in winter (from November till March) and on Mondays.

In the 20th century Konopiste castle won reknown in the world as the seat of the successor to the Austrian imperial throne Archduke Franz Ferdinand d´Este and a s aplace connected with the end of the Austrian empire.
While Franz Ferdinand was still somewhere on the Asian continent his grandiose plan regarding the converting of by now considerably delapidated Konopiste castle with its environs into a dignified and representative seat provided with all comforts began to be realized for the presumed future successor to the imperial throne.The archduke purchased the agricultural land in the environs for the purpose of increasing the area of the natural landscape park which had been laid out and which was connected up with the old core of the chateau garden. As a whole the park covered an area of 225 hectares. He intended to make his next wife Zofie (Sophia) Chotek, though he knew that the dynastic principles of the Hapsburg would never allow Countess Chotek to take up a position with the full rights of the emperor´s consort at the sovereign´s court. His displeasure from the slights - both manifested and anticipated - against Zofie Chotek led Franz Ferdinand to decide to make Konopiste a quiet, comfortable and simultaneously appropriately representative background for his family life, a place which would be out of reach of the intrifues and slanderous comments of his Hapsburg relatives and the rest of the gentry at the court in Vienna. Franz Ferdinand had to sign the oath to renounce all rights of succession for his own descendants three days before his marriage.
The marriage took place on 1 July, 1900, at Zakupy chateau in North Bohemia and even though it was by no means an ostentatious affair it was a human triumph of the newly-weds. On the day of the wedding the emperor granted Countess Chotek the title of Princess of Hohenberg.
The archduke Franz Ferdinand was able to influence events at his beloved Konopiste to a considerably greater extent than the decisions of governmental functionaties in Vienna. he had most of the chateau interiors furnished and decorated with his museum collections. Their base was foormed by articles which he had already inherited in compact groups from the Este and Obizzi families, in particular arms, paintings, wall carepts and garden sculptures.
Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophia became the victims of an assassination carried out by Serbian terrorist on 28th of June in 1914. The murdered couple was transported to Vienna for a mourning ceremony and from there to Artstetten near Melk Monastery where they were buried in the chateau chapel.

The city brewery was sold to the archduke Franz Ferdinand d´Este, the successor to the Habsburg throne, in the year 1887. There have been produced 8 different types of light and dark beer. Come and taste great beer here , you can have lunch in Konopiste and than continue to the chateau ZAKUPY. Or you can go back to Prague.

In 1818 the Emperor raised Zakupy to be a duchy and Napoleon´s son Orlik became the duke of Zakupy. After the fall of Napoleon in 1814 a suitable title was required ofr his son Orlik, the grandson of the Emperor of Austria Franz I, so that the origen of Orlik might be forgotten. On the advice of Metternich the title of Count of Zakupy was chosen for him. In a special decree the Emperor therefore raised the Zakupy estate to dukedom. Napoleon´s young son, educated at the court of Vienna, never visited Zakupy during his short life, and today he is recalled only in the name of a hotel on the square.The estate remained in the property of the Toscana family, a sideline of the Habsburgs , until 1848 when, following the Congress of Vienna, it became the property of the Austrian Emperor together with all other estates. Thus the Landrolls Zakupy were inscribed to the former Austrian Emperor, the last crowned King of Bohemia, Ferdinand, in 1849. He lived in the Prague castle and Zakupy chateau became his summer residence. The third quarter of of the 19th century was the last important period in the history of Zakupy when it was used by the former Emperor Ferdinand I as his summer residence. In this period the interiors of the chateau were newly adapted in the style of the second Rococo. After the death of the Emperor the chatau Zakupy was used only occassionally and in 1918 it passed into the hands of the Czechslovak Republic. There was the wedding ceremony of the arch duke Franz Ferdinand d´Este and Sophina Chotek in the Zakupy chapel.

You can choose from the following trips:
1.KONOPISTE CASTLE - 4 hour round trip




The price list of Private Country Trips.

Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria-Este, b. Graz (Styria), Dec. 18, 1863, d. Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina), June 28, 1914; son of Archduke Karl Ludwig, nephew of Emperor Franz Joseph I. The death of crown prince Rudolf in 1889 and of his father in 1896 made him next in succession to the throne, but was forced to renounce his children's rights to the throne (children with Countess Sophie Chotek). In 1898 he became the Emperor's deputy in the supreme army command, was appointed inspector general of the armed forces in 1913 and was particularly interested in promoting the navy; wielded little political power. He aimed at eliminating Hungary's privileged position among the countries of the monarchy and sought to reach a compromise with the Slavs. His political orientation was characterized by a strictly conservative and authoritarian attitude. One outstanding characteristic was his extreme passion for hunting. The assassination of F. F. and his wife was the immediate cause of the outbreak of World War I. Information about his life is given at the Franz Ferdinand Museum in Artstetten Palace (Lower Austria).
Chotek, Countess of the Empire Sophie (from 1909 Duchess of Hohenberg), b. Stuttgart (Germany), March 1, 1868, d. Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina), June 28, 1914 (assassinated). Descended from Bohemian nobility (from 1745 Counts of the Empire), lady-in-waiting to Archduchess Isabell, from 1900 morganatic marriage with Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Assassinated in Sarajevo together with her husband, whose assassination led to World War I .

World War I, 1914-1918: Its causes date back to the 19th century; Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy formed the Triple Alliance in 1882, which was opposed by the Entente, consisting of France, Great Britain and Russia from 1907. The conflicts between France and Germany (after the war of 1870/71) and between Great Britain and Germany (naval rivalry, issue of African colonies) became more serious and, at the same time, the political tensions between Serbia, Russia and Austria-Hungary increased after 1903. Pan-Slavism, Serbian territorial claims in the Balkans, the Austro-Hungarian annexation of the formerly Ottoman provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina (occupied in 1878) in 1908 as well as the Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913 aggravated European rivalries in the Balkans.
Following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the Austro-Hungarian successor to the throne, by a Serbian Nationalist group of students in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914 Austria-Hungary presented an ultimatum to Serbia on July 23, 1914, demanding official Austrian participation in the investigation against the instigators. Although Serbia´s answer was moderate in tone and content, it was considered unsatisfactory and Austria declared war against Serbia on July 28, 1914, who had started mobilisation on July 25, 1914. Austria-Hungary and Russia ordered general mobilisation on July 31, 1914. Germany declared war against Russia on August 1, 1914 and against France on August 3, 1914 and invaded neutral Belgium. The next day Great Britain declared war on Germany. Austria-Hungary declared war against Russia on August 6, 1914; and by that time Montenegro had already declared war against Austria-Hungary on August 5, 1914. France declared war against Austria on August 11, followed by Great Britain the next day and by Belgium on August 28; Austria declared war against Japan on August 23. Italy remained neutral, referring to the statutes of the Triple Alliance contract, according to which it only formed part of a defensive alliance.
Around 1.3 million men had been called up to join the imperial army in a first wave of mobilisation by September 1914 (in addition to the peacetime strength of 415,000 people), another million soldiers were recruited by the end of the year. Count F. Conrad von Hötzendorf, chief of the general staff, was responsible for military operations, A. Arz von Straußenburg) from March 1, 1917; commander-in-chief of the army was Archduke Friedrich (until December 1, 1916, from then until the armistice of November 3, 1918 Emperor Karl I).
Even though the Central Powers had not worked out a common war strategy, Germany started an offensive according to the "Schlieffen Plan", sending large parts of its troops via Belgium to northern France, with the aim of trapping Paris on the west in a pincer movement and encircling large parts of the French army and the British Expeditionary Forces; Germany subsequently tried to defeat the Russian army with the help of Austro-Hungarian troops. However, after the Allies´ success in the Battle of the Marne, the German advance came to a standstill from mid-September 1914. A continuous front line was set up stretching from the Flanders coast to the Swiss border from the end of October, which basically remained unchanged until the summer of 1918; on either side territorial gains were only made at the cost of an enormous number of victims (Verdun, Somme, Ypers, Cambrai). The fight against Russia was largely fought by Austro-Hungarian troops who, after only a few weeks, had to realise that Russia´s deployment had been organised much more quickly than expected. The Russian troops were not only superior in numbers, they also used excellent equipment. The battles in the autumn of 1914 in Galicia resulted in heavy casualties for the imperial army (with approximately 500,000 dead, missing and captured); despite some successful operations (Krasnik, Komarow, Limanowa) large parts of Galicia had to be given up (loss of Lemberg, confinement of Przemyœl), and the Austro-Hungarian troops had to retreat to the north-eastern range of the Carpathian mountains.
The Austro-Hungarian forces fighting in the Balkans also greatly underestimated the power of the Serbian army and in three offensives failed to conquer Serbia. At the end of 1914 the two enemies, exhausted from having suffered heavy losses (more than 220,000 people on either side), stood again in their initial positions of August 1914 with no end to the war in sight.
When Turkey declared war against Russia and France on October 29, 1914 and Great Britain against Turkey on November 5, 1914 all of the Near East turned into a theatre of war, with fighting also involving German and Austro-Hungarian troops. Even before that, in the summer of 1914, war had broken out in the Far East (Japan declared war against Germany on August 23, 1914) as well as in the German African colonies and hence had assumed world-wide proportions.
No major military fights took place at the Balkan front until the autumn of 1915, whereas the Central Powers reinforced their troops at the eastern front after the fierce winter battles in the Carpathian mountains (120,000 Austro-Hungarian soldiers capitulated at Przemyœl on March 23, 1915) and conquered all of Galicia as well as large parts of Poland and Belorussia in their offensive of May 2, 1915 (break-through of Tarnów-Gorlice), inflicting heavy defeats on the Russian army.
Italy, whose claims to the Italian-populated territories of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy were becoming increasingly insistent, rejected an Austro-Hungarian compromise on the cession of parts of the Trentino. After the Treaty of London had been concluded on May 3, 1915, Italy withdrew from the Triple Alliance on May 4 and, issuing a declaration of war against Austro-Hungary on May 23, joined the Allies. Although the imperial navy prevented the vastly superior allied naval forces from launching a large-scale offensive in the Adriatic and from landing in Dalmatia until the summer of 1918, it failed to break through the barrier of the Strait of Otranto. The war at sea was fought with light units on both sides and with submarines (as in the Northern Sea) by the Central Powers. Unrestricted submarine warfare set in from 1917, at first inflicting heavy losses on the Allies´ merchant shipping, but the USA, who had by now entered the war, contributed eventually to the defeat of the Central Powers.
On land, after Italy´s entry into the war, a south-western front of around 600 km was built, along which trench warfare set in from the Swiss border (Stilfser Joch pass) in the high Alpine regions to the western territory before Trieste south of the Julian Alps. The war in the mountains was characterised by extreme topographical conditions, and the eleven battles of the Isonzo between June 1915 and September 1917, in which the Italian troops failed to break through to Trieste and into the Ljubljana Basin were as fierce as the battles at the western front. In the 12th battle of the Isonzo, from October 24, 1917 (break-through of Flitsch Tolmino) the Austro-Hungarian and German troops were able to conquer Venetia, but they held it only until Italian units, supported by British and French divisions, erected a new front along the River Piave in November.
An Austro-Hungarian and a German army together launched a major attack against Serbia in the Balkans on October 6, 1915 and succeeded in conquering Serbia with the help of two Bulgarian units (entry into war of Bulgaria on the side of the Central Powers on October 11, 1915). Although the allies landed troops near Salonika on October 5, violating the neutrality of Greece, they did not succeed in preventing Serbia and Montenegro being occupied until January 1916. The front in the Balkans remained the same in northern Albania and along the Bulgarian-Greek border until Romania joined the Allies on August 27, 1916 and its troops invaded Transylvania. In the following months, the Austro-Hungarian, German and Bulgarian troops decisively defeated the Romanian army and occupied almost all of the country. Greece entered the war on the side of the Allies on June 29, 1917.
The Russian Army was again very successful against the Central Powers at the eastern front in the summer of 1916 (Brusilov offensive from June 4-August 29, 1916), however the tremendous losses and the economic emergency in the hinterland gave rise to the outbreak of the Revolution on March 12, 1917 ("February Revolution"). A bourgeois government came into power, which enabled Russia to continue to fight on the side of the Allies until the Bolshevik Revolution of October (old style) in November 1917; on March 9, 1918 the new Russian government made peace with the Central Powers in Brest-Litovsk.
The years 1916 and 1917 saw a dramatic increase in supply problems in the Habsburg monarchy due to the ongoing war. Production in the armaments industry grew steadily, while first shortages of raw materials occurred and textile production increasingly lacked quality. From 1916 food supply was subject to strict control (food ration cards for bread and flour were issued from April 1915, for milk, fat and potatoes from 1916). The War Cereal Distribution Board was set up to provide central control over the distribution of cereals from February 1915. The problem of distributing agricultural products from the Hungarian part of the Empire was never satisfactorily solved during the war, and an alarmingly large number of civilians were suffering from malnutrition and diseases by the end of 1917.
The interior political situation was also aggravated in 1916. The assassination of Prime Minister Count Karl Stürgkh by Friedrich Adler on October 21, 1916 demonstrated the extent of resistance against the authoritarian government. Nationalist tensions grew and resulted in mass desertions, in particular in the Czech regiments at the eastern front, as well as in mass strikes for economic reasons in January 1918. After the death of Emperor Franz Joseph I on November 21, 1916 it soon became clear that once this symbolic figure had disappeared the ties between the people and the dynasty loosened, especially because his successor, Emperor Karl I, was unable to solve the domestic political and economic problems and, despite many efforts to achieve peace (Sixtus Affair) to put an end to the war.
When the USA entered the war on April 6, 1917 (the declaration of war against Austria-Hungary did not follow until December 7, 1917) the Allies´ superiority was enhanced even further, which, however, did not become fully effective until the spring of 1918. US entry into the war also considerably influenced the Allies´ war objectives. The Habsburg monarchy was strongly affected by US President W. Wilson´s Fourteen Points for a just post-war order of the European states: They comprised readjustment of Italy´s frontiers on an ethnic basis, the prospect of autonomy for the peoples of Austria-Hungary and retreat from the occupied Balkan states. In a preliminary stage, the Czechoslovak National Council in exile in Paris was recognised by the Allies as the government of a friendly nation on June 29, 1918.
The hopes the Central Powers had pinned on the peace concluded in the east failed to materialise. Food supply from the Ukraine turned out to be much less than expected and was not sufficient for the needs of the troops and the people in the hinterland.
Both the offensive on the River Piave, started by the imperial army on June 15, 1918, and the last offensive by the German forces on the western front (March 21, 1918) failed. The Bulgarians in the Balkans were forced to surrender on September 26, 1918, the Turkish forces in the Near East were about to break apart. Since military and economic collapse seemed inevitable, Emperor Karl decided to send a peace note to the Allies on September 14, 1918. However, this was rejected and the monarchy soon began to fall apart. A "South Slav National Council" was already set up in Zagreb on October 6, 1918, the Provisional National Assembly for "German Austria" was constituted in Vienna on October 21, 1918, the Czechoslovak state was proclaimed in Prague on October 28, 1918 and the union of the South Slav territories with Serbia and Montenegro was announced on the following day; Emperor Karl´s manifesto of October 16, 1918, in which he granted autonomy to the peoples of the Austrian Empire, remained ineffective.
The offensive on the River Piave launched by the Allies on October 24, 1918 caused the imperial army to break apart, not least because, by that time, greater numbers of Hungarians had started to leave the front. Although the armistice signed at Villa Giusti (near Padua) on November 3, 1918 was not to enter into force until November 4, the imperial army's high command ordered immediate cessation of hostilities. Hence the Italian troops could still take 356,000 soldiers of the imperial army prisoner of war in the days up to November 11, 1918. Italian units advanced into northern Tirol until November 20, 1918, while Bavarian troops still tried to prevent the formation of a new south front against Germany, which was possible due to the Allies' right to move freely inside Austria-Hungary as demanded in the armistice; on the western front Germany had to agree to a cease-fire on November 11, 1918.
Emperor Karl I resigned as commander-in-chief of the army on November 4, 1918 (succeeded by H. von Kövess), renounced the right to participate in affairs of government on November 11 and dismissed the last imperial government from office. The "Republic of German Austria" was proclaimed in front of the parliament building in Vienna on November 12, 1918 (First Republic).
World War I, which for Austria-Hungary lasted 1563 days, cost the imperial army more than one million persons dead and missing (around 400,000 of whom died in Russian captivity, around 50,000 in Serbian captivity and more than 30,000 in Italian captivity), 1,943,000 injured and 1.2 million prisoners of war, most of whom did not return for several years. War expenses are estimated to have amounted to around 90 billion Kronen, the public debt had risen from 13 to 72 billion Kronen between July 1914 and November 1918, the rate of inflation reached 1400 % from 1914-1924. Large parts of the population suffered from increasing poverty accompanied by deep-rooted social and economic problems (First Republic).

You can choose from the following trips:
1.KONOPISTE CASTLE - 4 hour round trip

The price list of Private Country Trips.

Please send an e-mail to order the tour!

Any reproduction and using of texts or graphics without written permission is not permited!
© 2006 Private Tours Prague

Last updated on Jun 22, 2006