Sunday, July 3, 2011

Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape, Czech Republic

Back in the mid-13th century the dukes of Liechtenstein came to Lednice and built a chateau. In the 14th century they built another chateau in Valtice. The castle in Valtice became the duke's main residence while Lednice became the summer home. The countryside between the two castles was given various Baroque and Romantic touches at the end of the 18th century. Today, the Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, and 283 km2 (~109 miles2), it is one of Europe's largest artificial landscapes.

There are several pavilions and follies scattered between the two castles. With lots of hiking/bike trails between the two towns it is very easy to see all of the various touches that were added to the landscape. Some of which include:

Rendezvous (The Temple of Diana) was hunting lodge that dates back to the 1810s.

St. Hubert Chapel was built in the 1850s and was dedicated to the patron saint of hunters.

The Temple of the Three Graces is from the 1820s.

John's Castle is a fake Neo-Gothic "ruined" castle built in 1810.

There's even a fake Roman aqueduct by one of the lakes. I've decided that henceforth, it shall be known as the "fakeueduct".

One of the most out of place structures is the minaret in the Lednice Castle garden. It was completed in 1804. When it was constructed it was the tallest minaret in a non-Muslim country. I'm still not quite sure why the House of Lichtenstein needed a minaret but maybe they were running out of ideas for new structures to build.

Yesterday, I went with Natalie and Verity on what was supposed to be a 12 km trek though the Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape. We took the train from Brno to Valtice and hiked over to Lednice where we had lunch. We then continued our little nature walk from Lednice all the way to Břeclav. It was a really nice day but those little old' 12 km (~7.5 miles) turned in to 25 km (~15.5). Ouch!! My poor feet are still sore. Maybe next time we'll rent bicycles and hit a different trail to see some of the other follies.

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