Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape

Busy busy and lovin' it! This weekend we directed our noses towards Czech Republic and the Lednice-Valtice cultural landscape just few kilometres away from the Slovak border.



Lednice-Valtice is a castle complex and 283 square kilometres of parks, human-made lakes and forest tracks. Everything there is there because of and used to belong to the Liechtenstein aristocrat family. These days the area belongs to the Czech state and is  protected by UNESCO. But this family, I tell you, had way too much time and money in their hands! 

Nonetheless we took a 20-kilometre-hike to see most of the extraordinary buildings and areas that the family had built there.
Apollo Temple




Our first stop was at the Apollo temple. It used to be a fancy pancy hunting lodge with living areas behind it and a nice view over the artificial pond. The family had a habit a planting trees and bushes around these monuments so that you don't really know what you're approaching. And then you turn a corner and woow! They knew what they were doing... even though I still can't understand the time and money spent on the details on all of these monuments. You'll see.

The next stop was the Temple of the Three Graces. This was a "party house" where women spent some fabulous time while men were hunting. The temple is decorated with statues depicting sciences. And behind there was a lovely little "house" with beautiful mosaic floors. 
Temple of the Three Graces




Rendezvous or the Temple of Diana looks like the Arch de Triomphe in Paris, and was influenced by it, but it was once again made so that you could live there. The upper part has living quarters and we could have also gone up there IF we had waited for 50 minutes in the rain... we decided to push on.
Rendezvous




From the Rendezvous it wasn't a long walk to the Valtice castle. It was used by the Liechtenstein family as a winter home, whereas the Lednice castle, which was 10km away, was used during summer. Between the castles there is a straight road and on a better weather you can see the other castle at the end of it. Valtice, unlike Lednice, hasn't been restored. It's still glorious but you could see it's a little run down... and the weather didn't make it look much better. There are wine cellars near by and we had planned to go for a wine tasting but decided otherwise because of the weather, so after seeing the castle we took a bus back to the dormitory.


Valtice


On Sunday the rain had finally moved on but it had left a carpet of thick clouds still hanging in the sky. We still had the Lednice castle to see and close to it there was a Minaret tower. After getting tickets for a tour in the castle we took off for a 1,5km walk to the Minaret. 



I like the story behind this building with 302 steps up to the tower: Alois Josef I Lichtenstein was a big supporter of arts and he wanted to build a church in the place where the Minaret today stands. But building a Catholic church in a Protestant Czech raised so much ruckus that the idea had to be abandoned. Alois wasn't happy with this, so in order to show his authority he instead commissioned an Islamic Minaret. I like him; screw you obstinate fools!




The ground on which the Minaret stands is very wet, so in order to keep it from sinking into the ground the designer Josef Hardmuth had to build several hundred pillars underneath the building for stability. Here, now, I would like to curse the weather we had to the last corner of Hell. Because of it we had a proper foggy, just plain shitty visibility from the upper circle of the Minaret. You can see the Lednice castle in the picture but in a sunny weather you would be able to see the entire town and also the Valtice castle and from the other side all the way to Austria. So fuck you weather !!

After the Minaret we rushed back to Lednice for the tour inside the castle.


Lednice castle

As said, the Lednice castle was a summer residence for the Lichtenstein family and it has been restored to its former glory. The English garden was still under construction in parts but the huge greenhouse was surely enough for the people who came there expecting exotic plants and flowers.

The castle had a very sophisticated heating system and modern bathrooms for 19th century standards. There was art from China (for example the blue wallpaper), Japan, Mexico, etc. Priceless pieces of craftsmanship, like the wooden spiral staircase which was carved out of one tree, and even a Unicorn head on the wall! The last one that ever lived, I guess... 






A lovely summerhouse that Lednice castle. Wouldn't mind having one myself. Including all the pieces of art and intricate furniture, of course. Overall the massive area with everything in it is a place definitely worth visiting! The terrain is great for cycling and it's quite flat so it's easy to walk through as well, even if you're not in the best shape. Even though realistically thinking the fact that someone wanted to build entire lakes and insanely expensive buildings around them is rather ridiculous, I'm very glad that the Liechtenstein family was just that ridiculous. How boring would this world be without such huge pieces of history and culture so easily accessible!

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