got its name from the family Wehingen, feudal lords of Schwabian origin. One of sides of the family, Siroteks, moved to Moravia from Austria in the first half of the 13th century.
The ruins are very typical. The castle was ruined probably before 1590. It was described as deserted in the urbary of 1629. The castle was built on two rugged rocks divided with a deep ravine from which you can get to a karst cave. The main part was located on the south rock. A front wall, 2.5m thick and 8m high, with one window has been preserved; it is partially connected with remains of the tower, with three windows arches one above the other.
The romantic ruins of Sirotčí castle and its typical silhouette is a very important part of the Pálavské hills, they are like Romeo and Juliet. When driving in the area or making a trip in the region smelling of wine, the Sirotčí castle will be visible nearly from any point.
The small castle built at the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries has a very interesting two-part disposition. More dominant it is from the west – it looks like growing out of the high and slim limestone rocks. The overall composition of the castle is adapted to the surrounding rocks.
The better known – southern – part of the castle is accessible from the south-east, where the entrance outbilding has been preserved till today. This part is located on a triangle top area. In this part the walls have been preserved nearly up to the first floor. The ravages of time left their mark on the northern wall. This part of the castle had a palace disposition with a residential part on the east (evidenced by a large window) and with the narrowing part towards the west, where it is topped with a slim rounded tower on a steep rock. The other part of the castle, located on the inaccessible northern rock hasn’t been preserved, with exception of some plain parts of the masonry. A settlement fenced with a rampart and palisade was located on the foot of the rock, but only the admired water tank has been preserved to the present.
You can visit Sirotčí castle at any time of the year, it is freely accessible. The footpath to the castle starts in the village of Klentnice that is dominated by the castle; or you may start your trip in Mikulov and continue to Děvičky. The visit to the castle is really very interesting.
Stolová mountain - (called also Tabulová mountain) in the Pálava hills is a monumental limestone hill with nearly perfect straight top area, where in the early Bronze Age a fortified settlement was built. Rare sage species (Salvia aethiopis) can be seen on its southern slope, which is probably the only locality on the territory of our country.
The present appearance of the natural centre of the town originated in the late 16th century, when the original square was transferred next to the entrance to the castle. During the first half of the 17th century a few Renaissance buildings were built there, some of them have been preserved nearly unchanged to the present...
One of the most important is the house U Rytířů decorated with graffiti, and so-called canonical house. The square is decorated with a fountain with a sculpture of Pomona carrying a horn of plenty coming from the early 18th century, and monumental Baroque sculptural group of the Holy Trinity from 1723-1724. The historical centre of the town was declared an urban conservation area.
The most interesting building in the square is the corner house (building number 11) coming from the times before 1591, with a quadriteral oriel. It is decorated with Renaissance graffiti with biblical and ancient scenes up to the level of the first floor (the second floor was built only in the second half of 19th century); the graffiti date back to the first quarter of the 17th century. The arcade gallery in the yard is worth seeing, too.
Around 1700 a fountain was installed in the upper part of the square. It was built in the form of a polygonal stone basin with a prismatic pillar with gargoyles in the centre. It served as a water source for the people living in the inner town. The pillar is decorated with an allegorical sculpture of Pomona carrying a horn of plenty, and a coat of arms of the Dietrichstein family.
A monumental Baroque column – the sculptural group of the Holy Trinity in the lower part of the square is worth seeing. It dates back to 1723-1724, and it is sometimes called the Plague Column. The prince Walter Xaver of Dietrichstein ordered the column from the stonemason Andreas Steinböck to be made in accordance with the design by A. J. Prenner, and the sculptures (St. Jan Nepomucký, St. František Xaverský and St. Karel Boromejský) were made by Ignác Lengelacher. The monument standing on a hexagonal stepped base with three Tuscan pillars closed the three-sided pyramid with the symbol of The Holy Spirit standing on the celestial sphere with clouds and angels with the sculptures of The Father and the Christ. The column was repaired in 1897 and then in 1997-1998.
In the opposite corner František of Dietrichstein had a one-storey house built (building number 4) for the canons of the Mikulovská chapter established in 1625 on a few plots of land. While the house exterior has been preserved in its original Renaissance appearance, with the front decorated with graffiti rustication, the interior was damaged by the pernicious fire in 1784, when it went up in flames and had to be rebuilt.
- the castle and the castle park – the castle park in Mikulov ranks among the largest garden areas of the castle type in the Czech Republic. It consists of numerous garden terraces established on various levels around Zámecký hill. From its establishment at the turn of the 16th century to the end of World War II, it represented one of the very important works of garden architecture. However, during the decades after World War II it wasn’t maintained and it nearly perished. At present, the separate castle terraces are continuously restored by the castle administrator and the owner – Regional Museum in Mikulov and the Regional Council of Jihomoravský region.
The new composition is inspired by the original stage of its development – Italian Baroque garden on terraces. This is due to full destruction of the last implemented version – natural landscape garden of English type, which was destructed and uncovered not only layout of the original Baroque garden (1611-1784) and its dominant, but also the Baroque principle of building the area as a whole. The intellectual and composition links of the garden terraces with the castle interiors and architecture, the town and the surrounding landscape are clearly legible again.
The Jewish Quarter – beginning of the Jewish community in Mikulov dates back to the period after 1421, when the Jews were banished from Vienna and Lower Austria by the Austrian duke Albrecht V. A part of the refugees found the sanctuary in Mikulov, a town located at the border.  Another wave came in the period of reign of the Albrecht’s son Ladislav Pohrobek (posthumous child) who routed the Jews out of the Moravian royal towns.
The exiles, despised and routed out in the Middle Ages, settled around the castle, where a separate Jewish Quarter was established after some time, and in 1591 it became a self-governing part of the town, with its own mayor and other privileges.The Jewish Quarter in Mikulov spread after some time, it became more and more important, until it became one of the most important in Moravia. It was the reason why Mikulov became a seat of the Moravian provincial rabbi in the first half of the 16th century. They had their seat there till 1851. This way the town became a cultural centre of the Moravian Jewry. The well-known author of Golem, rabbi Jehuda Löw (1525–1609) became the second provincial rabbi here in 1553–1573.
A few large fires left its mark in the life of the local Jewish community. On 10 August 1719 a large fire destroyed the whole Jewish Quarter. After the ghetto was reconstructed, another fire disaster came in April 1737. In the first half of the 18th century 600 Jewish families lived in Mikulov, and the local Jewish community was the most numerous one in Moravia (there lived nearly 10 % of Moravian Jews). In the first half of the 19th century nearly one quarter of the town inhabitants were the Jews, but after they were granted civil equality in 1848, they started moving in large towns, particularly in Brno and Vienna, where they could live in better economical conditions.
In 1851 the position of the rabbi was divided into the rabbi of Mikulov and the Moravian provincial rabbi. The following rabbis worked in Mikulov: Solomon Quetsch (1855–1856), Mayer Feuchtwang (1861–1888), David Feuchtwang (1892–1903), Moritz Levin (1903–1918), Alfred Willmann (1919–1938).
In the 19th century there were a few fires, but the most devastating were in September 1924, and especially in April 1926, when 91 houses went up in flames. The two last fires give rise to Židovské ústřední museum pro Moravsko-Slezsko (Jewish Central Museum for Moravia and Silesia) that was opened in Mikulov on 24 May 1936. Its founder was JUDr. Richard Teltscher.
The Jewish community in Mikulov perished in World War II. From 472 Jewish inhabitants in 1938, 110 run away abroad from the Nazi. 327 inhabitants didn’t live through holocaust. The community has never been re-established.
At present the monument of formerly large Jewish ghetto with 317 houses, among which more than 90 were built in the Renaissance style, includes only the Baroque synagogue used as a Jewish museum, 45 houses protected as cultural monuments  and a large Jewish cemetery with a few thousands of tombs. The oldest and the most admired part is so-called “rabbi hill” with tombs of the Moravian provincial and local rabbis and members of the richest families of Mikulov.
Is one of the most admirable Jewish cemeteries in the Czech Republic. In terms of its importance it ranks among the cemeteries in Old Town of Prague and Kolín, and that is why it is one of the oldest and most important cemeteries in Moravia.
is one of three rocky dominants of the Town of Mikulov. A long time ago Kozí castle participated in strategic check of the roads connecting Brno and Vienna, and secured the proper protection.
On the top of Kozí hill they built a two-storey artillery tower with a gallery and embrasures in the 15th century. Construction of the tower improved defence technique of Mikulov, particularly of the castle of Mikulov, and this way it obtained very good defence ability admired not only in the region, but also considered as a cultural heritage of the Czech Republic and Central Europe. This late Gothic fortification with sharp edge has been preserved to the present days.
The cave Na Turoldu is located in the nature reserve on Turold (385 m.a.s.l.) hill. You can find it on the north periphery of the Town of Mikulov, and it is one of the oldest nature reserves on the territory of the present protected landscape area and biospheric reserves.
one of hills of the Pavlovské hills. Cliff of Jurassic limestone has the shape of an oval ridge, flat on the top, with steep slopes. On Holy Hill you can see many plant species protected by the law. That is why it was declared a botanic reserve in 1946, and in 1992 even nature reserve. The original plant species continue to grow in steppe plant community on the top of Holy Hill. On the southern slopes you can find various species of rock steppe community (fleur-de-lys, feathergrass, germander). Unique is occurrence of a few species of parasitic broomrapes. The eastern slopes are covered with shrubbery with dominating hawthorn, the northern slopes were afforested in the past. Thermophilic insects can be seen in steppes. The most admired vertebrates of Holy Hill are eagle-owls nested on the face of the deserted quarry.
In the lower part of the square a Capuchin monastery was built in 1612. Next to it František of Dietrichstein had a reproduction of Basilica della Santa Casa from Loreto, Italy, built in 1623 (the foundation stone was consecrated two years later). Construction of the church in accordance with the project by Giovanni Tencalla started before 1638 under Maxmilian of Dietrichstein, the cardinal’s successor. The new church of St. Anna was consecrated in 1656 and the Santa Casa was located in the centre of the nave. Construction of the burial chapel of the family Březnický of Náchod was carried out concurrently with construction of the church at the northern wall, and a sacristy with a treasure house on the first floor on the opposite side. It was rebuilt in 1678–1682 and decorated with stucco by Giovanni Castelli in 1679–1680 (at present the exhibition hall in the building number 6). The Dietrichstein’s burial chapel was added to the south-west wall of the St. Anna’s Church, at present it serves as a sacristy. In 1701–1706 a monumental, quite new two-steeple front was built in the church, probably in accordance with the project of Johann Bernhard Fischer of Erlach, although his original project was not implemented. Nearly the whole church, separated from the square with much more suitable staircase decorated with sculptures, was destroyed by the fire on 14 September 1784. Only the church chancel, with so-called Náchodská chapel, the church outer wall with sequence of side chapels, and the masonry wall of the north-west front were not damaged.
Shortly after the fire the remains of St. Anna’s church should have been sold as building material. It wasn’t implemented, but the first steps aiming at securing of the damaged masonry were implemented only in 1837 under František Josef of Dietrichstein. In the end, he had the whole building rebuild into the burial church of the Dietrichstein family in accordance with the project by Heinrich Koch in 1845–1852. The architect cancelled the original burial chapel located in the south, and had the old crypt filled up. The former chancel was closed with a classicist wall dating 1846, and this way the nave became an open courtyard. Arcades of the side chapels were bricked up, and the newly formed corridors were used for coffins of the members of the family who died in 1617–1852, and after the fire were provisionally put under St. Vaclav’s church. The newly established chapel was fitted with a new altar with an imposing crucifix by Franz Bauer, and a large brass chandelier of Dutch type made in 1854. The damaged front was also repaired; the masonry attachments replaced the original Baroque cupolas, and sculptures of Christ and two angels were installed on the balustrade between the two towers.
The crypt remained unchanged till the beginning of 1990s, when the town authorities started a demanding reconstruction of the building that had been damaged by that time. The stone carcase of the building and figural decorations were restored as well as all of the interiors and the courtyard area with the monument to František Josef of Dietrichstein with a marble sitting figure of the prince Emanuel Max dated 1859, originally made for the Hall of Ancestors in the castle. Scenes of acts made by F. J. of Dietrichstein in Valennciennes in 1793 are carved out in the monument sides.
Ruins of formerly important and strong castle called Děvičky, Dívčí hrady, Maidberk (Maidenburg) are located west of the village Pavlov on a steep rock, inaccessible from three parts, about 1 km from Děvín, the highest hill of Pálava. For the first time the castle was mentioned in 1222 under s Slavonic name Dewiczky. Due to its strategic position the castle was kept in the country ownership. The structure, ruins of which continue to be a dominant of the east end of ridge of the Pavlovské hills, has the shape of a long irregular rectangle, approximately 65m long and approximately 20m wide, closed with a long castle wall. The castle was demolished by the Swedes after victorious battle of Jankov in 1645, when their garrison staying there plundered the castle and Pavlov and set them on fire.
It should be mentioned that there had never a watchtower been built there, although it was usually a part of the system of defence in most castles of the period. It means that defence of the castle in this restless region consisted in the very high and strong walls visible even now. There is a beautiful view of the Novomlýnské lakes and the surrounding landscape from the castle ruins.
20 km from here you can visit the Golf resort Veltlinerland Poysdorf. There are 18 holes, and the green is situated in slightly undulating unspoiled landscape with orchards and vineyards as far as the eye can see, all in perfect harmony.
Thermal bath Laa is a synonym for wellness, enjoying sauna and relaxation. You can find it 30km from Mikulov, after the border crossing of Hevlín.
Lednicce - Valtice area
is located on the right bank of the Dyje river, approximately 12 km east of Mikulov.
The castle with a large garden is one of the most beautiful complexes of the Czech Republic. The estate of Lednice was acquired by the family of Liechtenstein in 1249 and it was in their possession for nearly 700 years.
The present appearance of the castle dates to the middle of the 19th century, when the castle was reconstructed in the style imitating English Tudor-style Gothic. It means that at that time the original Renaissance castle dating back to the 16th century surrounded with a large garden was reconstructed. In the end of the 17th century the castle underwent a large reconstruction in the Baroque style in accordance with the plans of Domenico Martinelli, an Italian architect, and Jan Bernard Fischer of Erlach. The castle building is richly decorated in neo-gothic style.
Very imposing are also the interiors decorated with carved pan ceiling, the original historical furniture or admirable wooden staircase with thirty-six steps from the library to the princes’ bedrooms, which was made without use of a single nail. Marble fireplaces are located in nearly all of the parlours. A large greenhouse is adjacent to the right side of the castle. It was built from 1843 to 1845. There is large castle parkland built in the early 19th century around the castle. You can see many rare trees, ponds and interesting constructions in the parkland: Minaret dated 1798, the castle Janův hrad – pseudo-Gothic imitation of castle ruins, or the hunting lodge - Lovecký zámeček.
The complex includes historical greenhouse with the rarest greenhouse plant in the Czech Republic – a 300 to 500-year-old tree Encephalartos altensteinii. However, reconstruction of the greenhouse in the 1990s showed little consideration for importance of the plant, and the tree was irreversibly damaged.
The Lednice castle is one of the most important monuments of the high romantic period on the territory of the Czech Republic, and in December 1996 it was inscribed, as a part of the Lednice-Valtice area, in the list of World and Cultural heritage of UNESCO.
is a romantic watchtower, 62 meters high. It is located in the Lednice castle parkland, and it is a part of the Lednice-Valtice area. It is the oldest surviving watchtower on the territory of the Czech Republic, and at the same time the only minaret in the Czech Republic. It is also the tallest building of the type outside Islamic countries.
called also Janohrad, hemmed in meander of the royal Dyje from three sides, it was used as a hunting lodge. The ladies and gentlemen gathered there, wished each other happiness, and in the evening they came back to a richly served table. The hunted game was grilled in eight large fireplaces in the courtyard. The horses and dogs could have rested in the rooms on the ground floor, while the riders roistered in the large halls. Etiquette of that time required that the men and women feasted separately, and that is why there were the Knights’ Hall and the Ladies’ Parlours. The young ladies ate, drank and danced not so excitedly, and that is why they needed fireplaces. The main hall was not heated, and when they were too tired of the lively entertainment, they could have had a sleep in the relaxation hall on the first floor.
You needn’t be an eager biologist or to have an A in Biology on your school report to be impressed of your visit to the castle greenhouse. Actually, it is better if you are not very interested in flora: you will get enthusiastic over immediacy, originality and authenticity of this part of the exhibition. Hot water falls in drops on your head, you can hear golden carps slapping in the pond and smell orchids. The air is hot and beads of dew sparkle on the leaves…
Very romantic – as everything in the castle of Lednice. The members of the Liechtenstein family were not naturalists, and called specialist to establish the greenhouse and the parkland for them. The best gardeners travelled through South America and collected suitable seeds of tropical and subtropical flora worthy of being planted in the Liechtenstein’s estate. They wanted the greenhouse to be beautiful all year round. At present the local gardeners welcome visitors at any time – with exception of January (when the greenhouse is closed for maintenance). There is always anything in bloom; the nature itself creates an interesting exhibitions.
The castle greenhouse was designed and has been operated as an ornamental greenhouse. If you wish, you can ask for a list of names in Latin of the plants growing there, and you can find them by the numbers. But we can have our doubts about interest of the princes and countesses living in the castle in detailed survey of the plants. They came here to relax and the only tree they are sure to know was the Encephalartos Altensteinii, at present marked with a wooden plate. It is the oldest in the greenhouse – about three hundred or even four hundred years old.
The greenhouse in Lednice is a technical monument. It was built in 1843 - 1845, when England, the cradle of industry, gave the lead to nearly everything. There they had the idea of cast-iron structures bearing light panes of glass. The glass roofs protected market places and even the plants grown. The orangery in Lednice was replaced with a magnificent ornamental greenhouse, with the roof structure supported with cast-iron pillars in the shape of bamboo, with decorative leaves on the top. The glass “flakes” have two colours to be able to distinguish what has been left from the original structure and what was added during the reconstruction. Among the leaves of the palm trees and the banana trees you can find a bust of the last castle gardener from the Liechtenstein era. Everything creates one perfect whole – even the benches look like created by the nature in the middle of the “forest”.
The castle greenhouse is 92 metres long, 13 metres wide and 10 metres high. There is no guide to hinder or rush you during the visit. You will set the pace tour and breathe the healthy air. The greenhouse is open even on the winter weekends, so don’t hesitate and come to see us.
The castle parkland is connected with the castle area. For the first time it was mentioned in the middle of the 16th century. Till the 1630s it was gradually modified into a generous baroque park. It is very important in terms of dendrology. Romantic constructions form its integral part - the minaret, the waterworks, the aqueduct, artificial case and many others. There is also the castle pond with 15 islands.
The local ornamental garden, called Lust and Frauengarten, was mentioned for the first time in the list of property of Hartman II dated to the 16th century. The first exotic woody plants were brought there in the end of the 18th century, and a unique collection of North American woody plants was created gradually. The parkland was often flooded by the Dyje river, and that is why the owners decided to build a unique ameliorative work. They dug a large pond and made a system of islands. In the 19th century the parkland got the present appearance, resembling the old Italian and French gardens. In the main viewing axis the view of the park ends at the minaret built on wooden stilts in marshland. A replica of the Roman aqueduct is a part of the parkland. It is connected with a piled-up rock with a romantic artificial cave called Peklo (Hell). There were waterfalls with water falling from the rock into the pond. The parkland with enormous collection of plants and trees is connected with the surrounding landscape. One of owners of the estate in the following century was Karel I who had the waterworks built. The waterworks supply water in the fountains, cascades, channels, reservoirs and for water games.
The most interesting thing with the sculptural group of the Three Graces is that, in fact, they are not Graces. The Sculptural group represents three classical goddesses: Athena, Aphrodite and Artemis. Besides the common initial letter, their other common features are a hint of a smile and plump figures. They would compare poorly on today’s catwalk, on the other hand if compared with figures painted by Peter Paul Rubens, they are nearly skinny. The sculptural group was carved from a single stone by Leopold Fischer and originally it decorated the castle parkland in Lednice.
Some time ago, not far from this place there was the Temple of the Muses decorated with unique sculptures by Josef Klieber. After it was cancelled, the decorations were transported to a newly built small castle devoted to the classical god Apollo. The temple in Empire style was built in the early 19th century, and just as the other saletas of the Lednice-Valtice area it should have made the life of the Liechtenstein court more pleasant.
It comprises 12 swimming pools with water area of 3000 m2; in some of them water is supplied from the local geothermal well; there are a large wellness zones Forum Romanum, the Sun and Roman bath.
is originally built in the Renaissance style, later re-built in romanticizing style, in the Town of Břeclav. It is protected as cultural heritage of the Czech Republic.
Originally, on the place of the castle prince Břetislav I built a border castle, and the estate was named after him. The castle was used as one of administration centres of the principalities of medieval Moravia, but later it became one of manor houses. Then the Přemyslide castle and Nová and Stará Břeclav were bought by the Žerotín family, who re-built it into a Renaissance castle in the 1st half of the 16th century. The estate in Břeclav was confiscated to Ladislav Velen of Žerotín (1589-1622) due to his participation in the uprising of the estates in 1618. In 1638 the estate was acquired by the Liechtenstein family who owned the neighbouring estate in Valtice and Lednice. During the wars with the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent Thirty Years’ War Stará and Nová Břeclav were nearly destroyed. As a part of later large building and landscaping works in the estate of the Liechtenstein family that resulted in establishment of so-called Lednice-Valtice area, the castle of Břeclav (which wasn’t a residential castle), as a part of the complex, was rebuilt in the romantic style into artificial ruins.
It is a parish church of Břeclav. They started to build the church in 1992. It is located in the square, on the place of the original church built in Baroque style in the middle of the 18th century. Before the Baroque church, there was a Romanesque church, which was re-built in Gothic style.
Prince Jan I of Liechtenstein had it built in 1811–1812. The design was made by Josef Hardtmuth and Josef Kornhäusel.
At present the owner of the castle is the Town of Břeclav. Since 1998 there has been archaeological exposition of the Town Museum of Břeclav. There you can see archaeological finds from the Slavic settlement located north-east of the castle.
It is an open-air museum representing the Great Moravian ritual, manufacturing and residential area. You can see a pagan shrine and a skeleton burial site dated to the 10th century, a wall and a pottery kiln dating back to the 9th century. The archaeological open-air museum is not far from the small castle of Pohansko near Břeclav, in the area where during the 9th – 11th centuries one of the largest settlements of Central Europe was built in connection with origin of The Great Moravian Empire. There is a nature trail Pohansko around the archaeological open-air museum.
Brno (in German Brünn, in Latin Bruna) the second largest town of the Czech Republic in terms of number of inhabitants and the occupied area, the largest town of Moravia and former capital of Moravia. It is a seat of Jihomoravský region authorities, with the central part of the district of Brno-město. The town is located on confluence of the Svratka and the Svitava rivers. It has approximately 400 thousand inhabitants, while 800 thousand people live in the regional residential conurbation.
Brno is the centre of the judiciary bodies of the Czech Republic, there is the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic, the Supreme Court, the Supreme Administrative Court and the Public Prosecutor’s Office. In addition, it is an important administrative centre because it is the seat of the state bodies with the country-wide control powers and other important institutions. We should not forget the Office for the Protection of Competition, the Public Defender of Rights or the Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority. Since 1777 Brno has been the seat of Brno Roman Catholic diocese, the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul on Petrov hill.
The town is an important centre of education, as there are thirteen universities with 33 faculties and colleges with 89 000 students. There are studios of Česká televize and Český rozhlas established under the law. International exhibitions and trade fairs are traditionally held on the Brno Exhibition Centre. The large centre was opened in 1928, and today it is considered as one of the cultural sights of the town. The largest event is the International Engineering Trade Fair. Brno is well-known as a place where important motorbike races are held on the nearby Masaryk Ring every year; this tradition began in 1930s. The most popular race is Grand Prix of the Czech Republic, a part of the World Championship of motorbikes. The Brno inhabitants also enjoy the exhibition of fireworks Ignis Brunensis that has been held every year since 1998. Typically, one to two hundred thousand visitors come to see the fireworks every day.
One of the most admired dominants of the town is the castle and fortress Špilberk.
The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul on Petrov hill forms characteristic panorama of the town and is often displayed as a symbol of Brno.
The other well-preserved castle on the territory of Brno is the Veveří castle, formerly built on a hill above the Svratka river. Till these days the Brno dam is dominated by the castle.
Another admirable sight is the world-famous functionalist Villa Tugendhat. The villa was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001. The historical centre of the town was designated the urban conservation area. One of areas attractive for the tourists is a margin of the preserved landscape area of Moravian Karst, which is located on the territory of Brno, too.
An entertainment centre for both, children and adults.
Former summer residence of the Emperor’s family is one of the most beautiful areas in the baroque style in Europe. It was in the ownership of the Habsburgs from 1569. Wife of the Emperor Ferdinand II had a summerhouse built in the estate in 1642, and she was the first person to call it Schönbrunn. The castle area with the park was built after the Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1696. In 1743 Maria Theresia had it rebuilt thoroughly. There is an immense number of rooms where the Habsburgs lived most of the year, together with many halls for official guests.
Here, Emperor Franz Josef was born in 1830. He married charming Sisi (Elisabeth) and ruled in 1848-1916. The monarch spent the last years of his life in this castle, and only two years after his death it was transferred under the administration of the new republic. Thanks to its historical importance, beautiful surroundings and magnificent furnishings and decorations, the castle was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
There are 1441 rooms in the castle, and the visitors can see 45 of them. The interior is furnished and decorated in the style of Rococo (mostly white surfaces with ornaments made of 14-carat gold plates), and there are also Czech crystal chandeliers and ceramic stoves.
The rooms where Emperor Franz Josef lived and worked (see the picture) are rigid and plain, but the halls for the official guests and the rooms for them are very rich in decorations and furnishings. It the Mirror Room Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had his concert when he was six and was considered a child prodigy.
In the Chinese Round Cabinet Maria Theresia organized secret conferences with the state chancellor prince of Kaunitz. In the room called Vieux-Lacque Napoleon held meetings. In the Chinese Blue Room Emperor Karl I signed his abdication (the end of the monarchy in 1918).
The Millions Room "Millionenzimmer" with rosewood panelling and precious miniatures from India and Persia is one of the most beautiful rooms in the rococo style. The Vienna congress held the meetings in the large Gallery in 1814-1815; at present, official audiences are held there at special occasions.
The zoological gardens located on the grounds of the castle Schönbrunn in Vienna is the world’s oldest zoo. For the third time it was declared the best zoo in Europe. The young panda, elephants and many other rare animals attract more than two million visitors every year.
Emperor Franz I Stephan of Lorraine, husband of Maria Theresia, invited his noble guests to the newly established menagerie in the Schönbrunn palace park in summer 1752. At that time the oldest zoological gardens in the world were established – namely here, in Vienna.
As early as 1906 the first sensation was born in Schönbrunn. It was the first time that a captive African elephant was born – and again here, in Vienna. In 2007 another world premiere was born here: the first young panda. So far, no other European zoo has managed to naturally breed this species. It was named Fu Long. The second bear cub was born in August 2010, and the third in August 2013. This September the elephants increased in number, too.
At present, the zoo in Schönbrunn is one of the best and the most up-to-date worldwide. The enclosures for the animals are really large and they are in close contact with the nature. More than 500 animal species live there – beginning from Siberian tiger and hippopotamus up to Indian rhinoceros. One of the most admirable draws is the enormous greenhouse with rainforest, large South America pavilion and the ORANG.erie, the new home of the orang-utans. In 2010 a new nature trail was opened. Polar bears have been bred in the zoo since May 2014: the new enclosure is called “Franz Josef Land”, it covers the area of 1.700 m2, and the white shaggy creatures have enough space for their pleasures. For the first time, you can see the bears when they are diving. Every year large enclosures and pavilions are built. However, the historical charm has been preserved.
Knowledge about the world of animals may be obtained during special tours of the zoo or seminars. There is the greenhouse called the “Desert House” (Wüstenhaus) next to the zoo. There you can explore the world of plants and animals from the driest parts of the world.
Historical beginnings of the church date back to 1137, when a contract was made between Leopold IV, Margrave of Austria, and the bishop Reginmar of Pasau. Then, the construction of the church started. The Romanesque church was consecrated 10 years later, in 1147. It hasn’t been preserved till our days; we know only the ground plan dimensions. If we take into account the circumstances under which the church was built, it was really outsized – the intention to establish a bishop’s seat may have become evident. The church was built on the outer edge of the town – outside the town walls, and the archaeologist believed for a long time that it was the first building there, but the archaeological findings showed in 2000 that from the 8th century there was a burial place, and there must have been a church as well.
In 1230–1263 the west part of the church was extended in late Romanesque style – so-called westwerk was added. It consisted of two Pagan towers and the Giant’s gate between them. Origin of the names is not known. When building the towers, they used old Roman (i.e. pagan) masonry. Others stress similarity with Islamic minarets. Name of the gate is sometimes connected with the mammoth bone from the collection of curios of Emperor Friedrich III found during excavation works for foundations of the north tower. It should be hung over the entrance portal. Some other theories suppose that the origin of the name is in old German.
In 1304 another extension of the church started. So-called Albertine choir was added to the east part of the building, a Gothic in style three-nave hall. It got its name from the duke Albrecht II who supported the construction and under reign of which it was finished. It was consecrated by the bishop of Passau on 23 April 1340.
On 12 July 1359 Habsburg duke Rudolf IV of Austria, called Founder, laid the foundation stone for new Gothic extension of “his” church approximately in the place of the present southern tower. Rudolf’s interest in the matter was very important. By marriage with Catherine of Luxembourg he became a son-in-law of Charles IV, and competing with him was the driving force of Rudolf’s thoughts and acts. Similarly as his father-in-law raised importance of Prague, Rudolf wanted to raise importance of Vienna and to make it a dignified duke’s seat. However, there was no bishopric in Vienna, which didn’t make a good impression in this respect. The cathedral was built partially as a tool that should have enabled the objective to be met, but partially also as a competitor of the cathedral in Prague. Rudolf was not successful in everything he intended to do, but thanks to him Stephansdom rose to a higher rank of a collegiate church in 1365.
In the next century the construction works proceeded slowly, but they moved ahead anyway. On both sides of the west Romanesque construction two chapels were built, located one above the other. In 1433 the south tower was finished under the leadership of Jan z Prachatic, and new longitudinal three naves were constructed as a “pseudohall”. First, its walls were built as an outer shell around the original Romanesque building, and then it was demolished in 1430. After the timberwork of the roof was build under the leadership of Hans Puchsbaum in 1446, vaulting started.
Another politician whose name is connected with this church is Emperor Friedrich III. He continued the work of Rudolf IV: In 1450, in accordance with the original Rudolf’s concept, he laid the foundation stone for construction of the north tower, resembling the south tower, and during his second journey to Rome in 1469 he accomplished his objective - establishment of bishopric in Vienna. The cathedral rose to higher rank again – this time to an Episcopal church.
In the beginning of the 16 century only about one half of the north tower was finished, and the medieval idea of a monumental building “took a back seat”. Partially due to lack of funds the construction was suspended in 1511, and in 1578 finished the construction with a dome in Renaissance style.
The 17th century brought influence of Baroque style in the furnishings. A few altars were built there, and the most important among them is the heightened altar made in early Baroque style by Johann Jacob and Tobias Pock in 1647, dedicated to St. Stephen and depicting his stoning.
During the whole World War II, despite nearby bomb attacks, the cathedral was not seriously damaged. But on the last days of the war, between 11th and 13th April 1945, sparkles from the surrounding burning houses started fire. Damage was enormous – the whole timberwork of the burnt down, the vault above the chancel fell in, the Emperor’s balcony was destroyed, the organ and the large bell – so-called Pummerin – broke away and fell down in the tower hall. The cathedral seemed to be lost, but reconstruction started soon, and on 23 April 1952 the whole cathedral was opened.