Archeological surveys show that there was an aristocratic residence on the site of today’s castle from around the end of the 13th century. The original moated castle was rebuilt in the 14th century under the lords of Pardubice, but only fragments of this structure remain. The next rebuilding took place shortly after the Hussite Wars (in the mid-15th century), when new stone walls were built around the castle, including turrets at the corners as well as embrasures (gaps in the walls) enabling the castle’s defenders to fire hand-held guns and cannons.
THE Pernštejn ERA
In 1490 the powerful Moravian magnate William (Vilém) of Pernštejn purchased a large estate at Kunětická Hora, followed a year later by the Pardubice estate. Pernštejn was one of the most prominent figures at the royal court of King Vladislaus II. At the time, Pardubice was still a small and insignificant settlement, but William chose the town to be the centre of his modern estate, and he transformed Pardubice’s castle into the Pernštejn family’s main residence in Bohemia – a suitably grand and impressive home which met the family’s demanding requirements. William launched a complete reconstruction of the castle, creating a palace with four wings that provided sufficient space for the Renaissance lifestyle that was becoming fashionable among the wealthy aristocracy of the time. William also had massive fortifications built around the palace and the central open area (the bailey) with its various smaller functional buildings. No other castle of this type in Central Europe covers such a large area and has survived in such an intact form.
The system of fortifications at the Pardubice castle represents the pinnacle of late Gothic military design. It consists of a tall earth embankment with roundels (circular fortifying towers) at the corners, where heavy artillery guns could be placed. The embankment was protected by walls with embrasures (gaps) allowing the castle’s defenders to use hand-held firearms. In front of the walls there was a wide ditch which could be filled with water to create a moat if danger threatened. The barbican (Příhrádek) was next to the town itself, and it was connected to the castle via a long wooden bridge (today’s embankment with its stone bridge dates from 1805).