The Castle Of Konopiste

Are you going on a tour around Prague for the holidays? Or perhaps you have gone on a kosher cruise on the Danube and now want to spend time around the Czech capital and see what it has to offer.One of the places you might want to go to is the Konopiste Chateau.Konopiste is a chateau near the town of Benesov in the Central Bohemian Region, 40 kilometres southeast of Prague. It lies about 2 kilometres west of Benesov. Today it is known as the main and last residence of Archduke Franz Ferdinand d’Este, the successor to the throne of Austro-Hungary, and his Czech wife Zofia Chotková. His assassination in Sarajevo lead to the start of the First World War.The area is now protected as a National Cultural Monument of the Czech Republic. It is owned by the Czech state (administrated by the National Heritage Institute) and is accessible to the public. It is one of the most visited chateaus in the country.Konopiste is an important noble castle that was converted into a chateau. It occupies a hill above Zamecky Pond close to Benesov, near Prague. The first mention of Konopiste dates back to 1318, when its owners were brothers Benes and Dobes from the Benesovic family. It is believed that the Gothic castle was founded at the end of the 13th century, around the year 1294.

Its founder was probably the bishop Tobias of Benesov, the counselor of King Wenceslas II. He was a prominent and influential political personality of the period after the death of King Premysl Otakar II. The Benesovic family held Konopiste only until 1327, when they were replaced by the Sternberks, a noble family that ruled until 1590.The Sternberks, successors of Benesovice, belonged to the leading Catholic families of the country. Petr of Sternberk, Lord at Konopiste and Ceský Sternberk, fought with the Hussites for his entire life, until his death in 1420 at the Battle of Vysehrad. Zdenek Konopiský of Sternberk, who held Konopiste from 1440, was a well-known character.The followers of Jirí z Podebrad became the main personality of the rebellious Jednota Zelenohorská that plotted against the king. When the king decided to break the military power of the Catholic nobility by force, he started an offensive against the followers of Matthew Corvinus in April 1467.It was part of the siege of the most important fortifications of the Jednota zelenohorská- who were gradually captured one by one. Konopiste resisted the longest time. The 18-months long siege is a rarity in the history of Czech medieval warfare. However, the castle was not captured by force; its defenders surrendered for lack of food in December 1468. Zdenek Kostka of Postupice was the commander of siege. The descendants of Zdenek of Sternberk later rebuilt it in 1479. Since then they have kept the castle continuously until 1590.In 1602, the provincial court asked for a commission to sell a manor, on which more than 86,000 piles of the Meissen Groshen were spent. On October 18, 1603, Dorota Hodejovska of Harasov bought the Konopiste estate for 110,000 piles of the Meissen Groshen.In 1887 Franz Ferdinand d’Este, since 1896 the successor of the imperial throne of Asutro-Hungary, bought the chateau with the entire estate into his possession. Franz Ferdinand started major reconstruction and works on the entire real estate. He brought the water supply and electricity to the chateau. A hydraulic passenger elevator was installed, one of the first ones in the world, around the year 1890, as well as many other features.

Following his assassination in Sarajevo in 1914 – which effectively led to World War I – the Habsburg property was confiscated under the special law of 1921 by the Czechoslovak State. Subsequently, it was partly made available to the public. During WWII, Konopiste was confiscated by the Nazis, and the main headquarters of SS for the Protectorate was established there. These units were part of the tank division SS-Totenkopf.After the liberation in 1945, Konopiste was again made available to the public. The castle has survived to the present day in the form it was given to it during the last reconstruction by the Archduke Franz Ferdinand d’Este. The interior equipment remained the same as the times when the successor of the throne with his family lived here. Visiting the chateau as well as its premises is one of the most interesting activities that you can do if you have a free day to spend around Prague or you might also want to spend your time on a kosher cruise on the Danube.

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How to Sell Your House Privately

To sell your house privately can be an exciting challenge for most people but can also be a daunting task especially if you’ve never done it before. While selling your house privately is never as easy as you think, it’s certainly a feasible way to avoid paying thousands of dollars in commission to a real estate agent. If you’re confident you can do it or just want to give it a go, you’ll need to know the ways in which you can market your house so that you receive a quick hassle-free sale as well as achieving the best sale price possible.

Here are several ways that you can market and sell your house privately…

Sell Your House Privately – Tip # 1: Internet
The Internet is probably the most utilised form of contact for buyers looking for a house so you should have your house listed on the Internet, but on probably no more than two websites (any more than two is unnecessary). Unfortunately the major sites and don’t allow private sellers to list their houses for sale. However there is a loophole…several private listing real estate websites actually subscribe as members to the above websites. So if you list your house with these private listing sites they’ll automatically list your house on whichever of the major two sites that they’re subscribed to (for a price). Otherwise you can simply list your house for sale on a private sale website such as

Sell Your House Privately – Tip # 2: Flyers/Leaflets
According to statistics, something like 80% of homebuyers buy a house within 5km of where they currently live. This being the case, it’s a great idea to create your own flyers using Microsoft Word or Microsoft Publisher and have them printed professionally by a printer. Flyers are usually dirt cheap so shop around for the best deal. You’ll probably need around 5000 to make a splash in the area (in metropolitan areas) and something like 15,000 flyers would create a good coverage of your local area.

You can deliver them yourself (if you have the time), or you could use a mailbox distribution company such as Salmat or PMP Distribution (These are Australia’s two largest distribution companies). Your cost of delivery will probably be a minimum of 5 cents per flyer under a certain delivery amount (say 30,000). This is quite cheap when you consider that you’d either have to deliver them yourself (you could probably only deliver a few hundred per day) or have to pay a commission to a real estate agent.

For ideas on how to design your flyers, simply copy the best ones that you receive in the mail from the larger franchised agencies such as Ray White, LJ Hooker etc. Remember to use a ‘catchy’ headline at the top of your flyers eg. ‘HUGE family house on a BIG 1200sqm block’. Expect a 1% response rate on your flyers eg. Deliver 5,000 flyers and you likely receive around 5 calls.

Sell Your House Privately – Tip # 3: Newspaper
Newspapers are the most traditional way of advertising a house for sale. There are two ways you can advertise in the newspaper. You can have a ‘display ad’ which is simply a ‘picture ad’ along with a certain amount of text allowed (these are the most expensive ads but you can specify the unit size of the display ad from a small one unit up to an entire page depending on your budget).

The other type of newspaper ad is a ‘classified ad’. A classified ad is a text-only ad that allows headings, bolding, underlining, bordering and even some coloured text to make the ad stand out. All of these features come at an additional cost but classified ads are the cheapest types of newspaper ads available. Prestigious and/or expensive houses usually work best as display ads since this is where your target buyer is looking for these types of houses.

Sell Your House Privately – Tip # 4: Magazines
Advertising your house for sale in magazines is a more niche way of advertising your house simply because magazines usually have a specific niche that they’re targeting their publication to eg. ‘Country Property Magazine’. This is not necessarily a negative; in fact it can be very positive because you have more qualified homebuyers looking in these publications for a house. Most magazines will have display ads as well as classified advertising available; again it depends on your budget as to what ad you’ll use.

Sell Your House Privately – Tip # 5: Word of mouth
Word of mouth is often overlooked as a possible way to market a house. You can spread the word through family, friends, workmates, business colleagues, schools, membership clubs that you’re involved with, sporting teams. You could create some flyers and hand them out, send out a broadcast email for friends to forward or even organise a private open house for friends and friends of friends.

Sell Your House Privately – Tip # 6: Signage
Signage is a great way to attract local interest in your house. It’ll create a stir in the neighbourhood and may even help you achieve a sale if one of your neighbours friends wants to move to the area. You can have a sign made by most printers; the material or product to ask for is a ‘corflute’ sign to advertise a house for sale. Most printers are probably involved with a local real estate agency and create them often. It may set you back a few hundred dollars but shop around and see what you can do.

Sell Your House Privately – Tip # 7: Open House
Your end goal with all of your marketing is to get potential buyers to inspect your house and one of the most common ways for buyers to inspect houses for sale is through open houses. They offer buyers a somewhat anonymous way of inspecting a house without any sales pressure. It’s a great way to screen buyers to see which ones are ready-to-buy so that you can spend the most time with those buyers. Create your own Inspection Register and get the names and contact numbers of everyone who inspects your house. This is not only good for the sales process but also for general security of your house. Have a set presentation for when you first meet potential buyers to let them know about some of the features of your house. It’s a good idea to have brochures or flyers on hand to give to buyers.

Questions to ask potential buyers are:
Have you been looking for a while or are you just getting started? (if they’ve just started looking they will need to be educated about prices in the area. They can potentially be time wasters as they don’t have any reference points to compare your house with others. In addition to this, the type of house they think they’re looking for could be completely different from the one they actually buy after they’ve completed some research.

Are there any features that you particularly like about the house?
How does this compare to other houses you’ve seen?

Sell Your House Privately – Tip # 8: Investor Groups
There are always investor groups or buying clubs that have a database of members that are constantly on the lookout for investment opportunities and could be suitable for you to approach to sell your house. A few downsides to these groups is that they’ll want to buy the house for the lowest possible price and generally won’t be emotionally driven to buy the house which can affect your end selling price or even negotiating power. If you have a particular urgency in selling your house then this option could be for you. A lot of these types of clubs promote the fact that they buy houses for cash with a quick settlement period. Several of these groups include and The Investors Club

Sell Your House Privately – Tip # 9: Postcards
Postcard marketing is a more unique and modern way of promoting your house for sale. They work the same as flyers except that your ad is printed on postcards that are then distributed to letterboxes. It’s best to have them distributed by companies such as Salmat and PMP Distribution.

Sell Your House Privately – Tip # 10: Publicity
Publicity is probably THE most underutilised way to sell a house privately (or through an agent). Publicity is great for a number of reasons; first of all, its free, and secondly and most importantly, publicity promotes your house from a third party perspective. Instead of you saying ‘my house is so great…’ you have a third party saying ‘this house is great, you should go and see it!’.

Some of the top real estate agents have connections to local newspapers and publications and use them regularly if they have a house to sell that has some unique aspect to it. To gain publicity for your house you’ll need to stick with local publications as they’re the ones looking for local news, stories, people, business info etc. Here are several points of interest that you can exploit (write a press release about) that may get you’re house into the local paper:
Unique house
Odd colours or features
Unique street appeal
Amazing gardens (rare flowers or plants)
Famous previous owners
Well-known street
Local businessperson owns the house
Award winning house

Here are some catchy headlines to give you an idea of what to write a press release about:
‘How this house went from being an asbestos health hazard to a dream house in 37 days’
‘For Sale…the cleanest house in (suburb)’
‘Why this is the most quirky house on (Smith) Street…’
‘Why I painted one room of my house seven different colours…’

Try to think of weird and wonderful things about your house and really hone in on one specific point that makes your house newsworthy. Email, post or fax your press release into a specific person that writes about property related matters in your local paper. Include a photo as a teaser.