Road trip Czech Republic Day 4: Back home via Lednice-Valtice

On our way back home, we decided to stop at what would be the last UNESCO world heritage site for our trip. This wasn’t on our plan originally, but it was recommended by our guide in Brno. The Lednice-Valtice cultural landscape was the perfect end to our UNESCO road-trip. The Liechtensteins (yes, the one and the same who rule the principality of Liechtenstein) came into possession of a castle in Lednice in the 13th century. Over the course of 3 centuries, between the 17th and 20th, the Liechtensteins transformed this area into its current state.

We decided not to do a guided tour, but to simply walk around the huge park. However, if you’d like to know a bit more about the park, I would recommend you take a look here. We lucked out with the weather and as we made our way through the meandering paths, we came across a minaret. When I first laid eyes on it, I was absolutely confused but, at the same time awestruck. When we reached the minaret, we learned that in keeping with the aristocratic fashions of the time, the Liechtensteins built the minaret in their garden as a testament to international romanticism. For a much more detailed history of the minaret I would recommend that you go here. The article has pictures of one of the rooms as well, which was closed when we visited Lednice. However, we did climb up the 302 steps for a better view of the park, all the way to the chateau.

After getting down the minaret, we noticed that there was a boat-ride available on the river Dyje, which took us through the Lednice landscape. It was just what we needed to wind-down after our cultural mini-tour. Don’t get me wrong. I love learning about new cultures and taking in as much information as I can, but if I am honest, after a few days of sight-seeing and guided tours, I need some down time which allows me to recap everything I learned and experienced, as well as reflect on it.

The cool, refreshing breeze during the boat-ride, instilled in me a sense of renewal. Even as I write this in the year of Corona, I can remember the feeling of contentment and the renewal of hope, that describes what I felt during the boat-ride.

Road trip SE Czech Republic Day 3: Brno

                           Brno at a glance
Pronunciation: Bru-no                       
Birthplace of : Milan Kundera
Population: approx. 381,000 (as of 2020)         
To note: Brno is home to the oldest theater building in central Europe

You know that feeling you get, when you arrive some place new, and immediately feel as though you have finally reached home? Like you have been there before? Like you belong there? That’s how I felt the minute we arrived in Brno. I can’t really pinpoint what about it made me feel this way. Whatever it was, I am really glad that we decided to make a stop here.

View of the Villa Tugendhat from the garden

Brno is home to one UNESCO World Heritage Site, namely the Villa Tugendhat. Besides that, this vibrant city has been the birthplace of not only several notable people, but also ground-breaking ideas. In 1856, an Augustinian monk by the name Gregor Mendel (not to be confused with Mendeleev or Mengele) planted some peas in the experimental garden of the St. Thomas’ Abbey. This seemingly innocent act, would lead to Brno becoming the birthplace of modern genetics and Gregor Mendel its father.

The tree that made history

Now for a little background on the monument we came to Brno for. Completed in 1930 and inscribed into the UNESCO world heritage list in 2001, the villa of Greta and Fritz Tugendhat was designed by the architects Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich. They designed the furniture inside the villa as well, producing the iconic Brno and Tugendhat armchairs. Not only is the Villa Tugendhat a testament to modern architecture, it also holds an important historical place for the people of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In 1992, Václav Klaus and Vladimír Mečiar, met here to bring into effect the division of Czechoslovakia into two separate nations peacefully.

I would recommend that you pre-book a tour at least 4-6 months in advance. We tried to book a tour 2 months in advance and they were already sold out! So unfortunately, we were only able to enjoy the garden of the villa and the views of Brno and the villa from the outside. Which was still pretty amazing! However, we were able to enjoy a virtual tour of the inside later-on, which I would highly recommend too (link can be found here)! What personally impressed me most was the heating and ventilation system built into the house.

After taking in the views of the city and enjoying the garden of the Villa Tugendhat, we made our way back to the city-center, strolling around taking in all the beauty and curiosities that make Brno so unique. From the crocodile on the ceiling of the old town hall to the four fools trying to hold up an entire building.

After strolling through the city under the late spring sun, we decided to stop for a nice lunch before heading back to our hotel to cool off. We had planned to visit the ballet in the evening and didn’t want to be too tired to enjoy Swan Lake. The Mahen theater was a relatively short walk from our hotel, so we decided to enjoy the balmy evening with a leisurely walk there. Built in 1882, it was the first public building to be electrified in Europe. The interior of the theater, as well as the performance, were breathtaking!

After Swan Lake, it was time to head back to our hotel. Brno at night is just as vibrant and full-of-life as during the day. We stopped at a pub for some beers, before calling it a night on what be our last in the Czech Republic. I only hope that someday soon, I will be able to visit Brno again.