Lednice Chateau: The Romantic Mecca of South Moravia
There is a place in the south-east of Czechia that will strongly remind you of London or the Royal Palace of Windsor. Surprised? That might be understandable, but the fact is that the romantic ideas of the English Gothic Revival or neo-Gothic architecture traveled far and wide in continental Europe. Lednice Chateau in South Moravia, very close to the Austrian border, is a prime example of such architectural ideas easily moving from the British Isles to the heart of Central Europe.
The festivities and the coronation procession were a truly global event. It drew unprecedented crowds and a large diplomatic representation to the metropolis of the British Empire, at that time an unrivalled superpower. We do not know for sure what Prince Alois of Lichtenstein made of all the pomp and ceremony. But he must have been greatly impressed by the architectural expression of the same romanticism that influenced musicians and poets of that period: the Gothic revival or neo-Gothic style. Because not long after returning from London Prince Alois ordered a major reconstruction of the Lichtenstein family residence: the Chateau of Lednice in what is now the Czech Republic.
After World War II, the Czechoslovak government nationalized all the Lichtenstein properties. The Chateau of Lednice housed the Museum of Agriculture. Given how poorly the communist governments of the time often treated historic properties, this was in a way a blessing as it ensured relatively good care and upkeep of the historic buildings. One of the guides at Lednice, Vendula Jandová, says the chateau is in good condition and very popular with tourists:
And then there is the park: nearly 200 hectares or 500 acres of it in all. It is a unique historic monument in itself. It is no coincidence that the agricultural Mendel University of Brno has a Faculty of Horticulture based right here in Lednice. For it was precisely the tradition and know-how of the chateau gardeners that led to the establishment first of a school training gardeners and winemakers, and then an institute of horticulture that later became a regular part of the Mendel University. The dean of the faculty, Professor Robert Pokluda, explains what makes the park in Lednice so special:
"The first written documents relating to plans to establish a park next to the castle date back to 16th century. But the really extraordinary development of the park began in 1799. We found written orders for some trees from North America from that year. These were the first instances when such fairly exotic species were planted here in Central Europe and perhaps the whole of Europe in general. We are talking here mainly about broad-leaf trees such as sophora.”
So, it does not really matter, whether you prefer a beautifully preserved park half French, half English in style, or a magnificent residence with its splendid outlook and interiors. In the small Moravian town of Lednice, only about an hour’s drive from the cities of Vienna or Brno, you can enjoy both.