A wooden castle like an eagle’s nest was built on a steep rock above the Vltava River in the 13th century and in later centuries it gained the appearance of a stone Gothic castle for the royal garrison. However, the rock and the settlement below the castle were swallowed up by a dam in the 20th century, but the impressive appearance and the ancient name Orlík (Small Eagle) were preserved.
Orlík was established as a royal castle beside a ford across the River Vltava probably by Přemysl Otakar II, although in the Middle Ages it came into the hands of noble families and its ownership changed many times. In 1508 the castle burned down, and was rebuilt as a Renaissance chateâu by the new owners, the Lords of Švamberk.
In 1623 the Eggenbergs acquired Orlík, and in 1717 it was inherited by the Schwarzenbergs. At the beginning of the 19th century it became their main residence. In 1802 the chateâu was burned out, and during the subsequent repairs a fourth storey was added to the building. The most famous member of the family was Field Marshal Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg, who was victorious over Napoleon in the Battle of Leipzig in 1813. The current Romantic Gothic appearance dates from 1849 to 1860, when partial remodelling in this style was carried out according to plans by Bernard Gruber.
The interiors are mainly in the Empire style, from the first half of the 19th century. The Lovecký sál (Hunter's Hall), with quadripartite ribbed vaulting, is original Gothic, and the chapel, also dating from the Gothic period, has a net vault. From an artistic point of view, the most valuable rooms are the state rooms on the first floor; the Greater and Lesser Knight's Halls; Hunting Hall; Blue and Empire Saloons; Library, and the Gun Corridor. The interiors are furnished in the style of the period and feature the family's collection of art works.
Adjoining the chateâu is an English style large park, covering 143 hectares, with native and non-native species of trees and shrubs, and a greenhouse with a collection of fuchsias. The Pseudo-Gothic Schwartzemberk vault is situated in the western part of the park.