Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Czech Republic : Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape (1996)

Between the 17th and 20th centuries, the ruling dukes of Liechtenstein transformed their domains in southern Moravia into a striking landscape. It married Baroque architecture (mainly the work of Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach) and the classical and neo-Gothic style of the castles of Lednice and Valtice with countryside fashioned according to English romantic principles of landscape architecture. At 200 km2 , it is one of the largest artificial landscapes in Europe.

This area has been inhabited since the Paleolithic period, and has played an important role in subsequent historical events up to and beyond the Middle Ages. During the Neolithic and Bronze Ages it lay on the important Amber Route from the Baltic to the Mediterranean. It was on the frontier (limes) of the Roman Empire, and so there are Several forts in the vicinity. In the 8th century the first Slavonic state, the Great Moravian Empire, was founded in this region, which later became part of the Bohemian state.
The Lichtenstein family came first to Lednice in the mid-13th century, and by the end of the 14th century they had also acquired nearby Valtice. These were to become the nucleus of the family's extensive possessions, when Karel I of Lichtenstein was given the title of Duke in the early 17th century he made Valtice his main residence and Leunice his summer Seat. The two estates were later joined with the neighbouring Břeclav estate to form an organic whole, to serve the recreational requirements of the ducal family and as material evidence of its prestige.
The realization of this grandiose design began in the 17th century with the creation of avenues Connecting Valtice with other Parts of the estate. It continued throughout the 18th century with the evolution of a framework of avenues and paths providing vistas and rides, imposing order on nature in the manner of the Renaissance artists and architects. The early years of the 19th Century saw the application by Duke Jan Josef I of the English concept of the designed park, strongly influenced by the work of Lancelot "Capability" Brown at Stowe and elsewhere in England. Enormous landscaping projects were undertaken under the supervision of his estate manager, Bernhard Petri; these included raising the level of the Lednice park and the digging of a new channel for the Dvje river. A number of romantic elements were introduced into the landscape, the work of the architects joseph Hardtmuth, Josef Kornhausel, and Franz Engel. Smaller parks on the English model, the so-called Englische Anlagen, were also created around the Mlýnský, Prostřední, and Hlohovecky ponds.

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