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UNESCO Sites, Part 4 – Kroměříž

photo: zámek Kroměříž (czechtourism.com)

We will stay in Moravia, the eastern part of the Czech Republic, in this part of our series as well. Its central part is enriched by a cultural jewel that is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritages Sites – the Gardens and Castle at Kroměříž.


Archiepiscopal Chateau

The Archiepiscopal Chateau in Kroměříž (map) dominates the whole city with its 86 m high tower. The founding and the development is inseparably connected with the history of the Olomouc Diocese and Archdiocese. The chateau, surrounded by beautiful gardens, is considered exceptionally valuable as it is a well-preserved example of a European Baroque princely residence and its gardens. The complex was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1998.

In the time of the Great Moravian Empire, there was a fortified settlement on the place of today’s castle. In the 13th century, a gothic castle was built, which was rebuilt in the renaissance style and became the summer residence of bishops from Olomouc at the beginning of the 16th century. During the Thirty Years’ War, it was damaged by the Swedes and later reconstructed into the current baroque chateau.

The interior is richly decorated and you can see many pieces of the original historic furniture and collections. On the second floor is the castle picture gallery, the second most significant one in the Czech Republic after the National Gallery in Prague. In ten rooms, you may admire art pieces of prominent European painters from the 15th to 18th century, such as Tizian, Lucas Cranach Sr., Hans von Aachen, Paolo Veronese, Jan Breughel Sr., Anthonis van Dyck and Johann Heinrich Schönfeld. The archive preserves a unique collection of old sheet music.

Castle gardens

There are two beautiful gardens surrounding the castle – the Flower Garden (“Květná”) and the Chateau Garden ("Podzámecká") that belong among the most significant monuments of garden design in Europe.

The geometrically rectangular Flower Garden, covering an area of 485 × 300 m, was designed by the Italian architects Filiberto Lucchese (1606–1666) and Giovanni Pietro Tencalla (1629–1702). The garden was built on the demands of the Olomouc bishop Karel Liechtenstein-Castelcorn in 1665–1675. It is inspired by the Italian renaissance gardens from the middle of the 17th century with an arcaded gallery and a noticeable octagonal rotunda with a dome. The interior is richly decorated by frescos and stucco decorations. One side of the garden is occupied by a wide 244 m long colonnade featuring 44 statues of ancient gods and mythical characters, while the outer side of the colonnade is decorated by 46 busts.

The Chateau Garden was originally a vegetable and flower garden that was the main source of vegetables for the castle kitchen. Its purpose and appearance have gradually changed since the 15th century, and two centuries later was rebuilt into a baroque garden. In the 19th century, the garden was turned into a romantic English park covering an area of 47 hectares, where you can find three lakes and many romantic buildings, such as the Pompeii Colonnade, the Peacock Courtyard, the Fisherman Pavilion or the Colloredo Colonnade. There are many gazebos, sculptures, fountains, footbridges and ancient and gothic ruins that perfectly enhance the romantic character of the garden. The Chateau Garden is a valuable example of a landscape park not only in the Czech Republic, but within the whole of Europe.

Author: Romana Kuncová
Added: 18.09.2011

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