TOP - a recommended destination in České Budějovice
The four-story Iron Maiden castle tower is one of the two existing towers for the former Gothic fortifications of České Budějovice. The 14th century tower is situated in the close vicinity of the Bishopric Garden on Zátkovo Embankment at the confluence of the Malše and the Vltava. The exact date of its origin is not known. The dendrochronological method, which determines the year a tree was cut, has established only the date of its height increase. The third and fourth stories contain original wooden components dating to around 1460. The lower part of the tower is older, and the foundations probably date back to the beginning of the 14th century. It was known by the name Špilhajbl from the 15th century onward after Budějovice burgrave Georg Spilhaybl. The tower footprint is six by eight meters. The roof was once decorated with metal cupolas, which probably attracted lightning, causing the roof to burn down completely in 1612. Its new shape has survived to this day.
The tower had a defensive military purpose and was used to store gunpowder, rifles, arquebuses and cannons. Prisoners were lowered to the ground floor by a hole in the upper floor. According to legend, the tower also contained a torture chamber with an instrument whose use reminded prisoners of a hugging maiden. Hence the contemporary name Iron Maiden. The interrogated person was hugged by arms with spikes, which pierced the body, but avoided important body organs to make the culprit speak. Finds of human bones in the excavations suggest that this version could be true. However, no proof of the existence of the alleged torture instrument has ever been found, despite various claims of having been seen. The veracity of the story thus remains unclear.