Czech Dreams 2024
The town of Valtice has 3,600 citizens and it lies on the border with Austria – halfway between Brno (70 km) and Vienna (70 km). The first written mention of the Valtice castle dates from 1193, when the Valtice area belonged to the Passau bishops who colonised this originally Slav area after the breakup of the Great Moravian Empire. The era of the House of Liechtenstein in Valtice began at the end of the 14th century. This aristocratic house had its main seat here until 1945. Valtice, known as Feldsberg in German, was originally part of Lower Austria. On 31.7.1920, the town was ceded to Czechoslovakia on the basis of the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Valtice is part of the Lednice-Valtice area which was entered into the UNESCO heritage register in 1996 due to its uniqueness. This is one of the most extensive artificially composed landscapes in Europe and probably in the world.
One of the dominant features of the town is the château – one of the largest in the Czech Republic. It is considered to be one of the most significant examples of early baroque architecture in Central Europe. It has been renovated a number of times, the last of which occurred in 1643–1730 with the participation of leading architects, sculptors and painters. The rooms are richly decorated with gilded stucco and ceiling frescos and it is home to a significant collection of Central European baroque painting. The château chapel is remarkable – according to experts, it has one of the most beautiful interiors of the Central European baroque. It is richly decorated with stucco and paintings. It is often used for chamber concerts due to its unique acoustics. The second most historically significant building is the parish church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. This early baroque building dating from 1631 to 1671 is remarkable for its size - length: 48 m, width: 28 m, height: 34 m, height of the tower: 60 m. The building was commenced by the Italian architect G. G. Tencalla and completed by O. Erna, an architect from Brno. The painting of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on the main altar is a copy of a painting by P. P. Rubens, while the smaller painting above it is a Rubens original – it depicts the Holy Trinity. The church houses a rare baroque organ from the mid 18th century by the Viennese organ maker Johann Hencke, who was the most famous organ maker of his day. It is also used for concerts. The neo-renaissance town hall has a remarkable ceremonial hall decorated with beautiful stuccowork. During the period when the town belonged to Austria, this was the former office of the district court and the tax office. A further significant complex of local baroque architecture is the Monastery of the Merciful Brothers with the Church of Saint Augustine and the order’s hospital. The Merciful Brothers came here from Italy in 1605 at the invitation of Prince Charles I of Liechtenstein in order to establish their first hospital to the north of the Alps. Their arrival meant a great influx of scholarship and progress. There are two museums on the square: the Museum of Winemaking, Gardening and the Environment with an exhibition of historical wine presses and the Town Museum which depicts the rich history of Valtice and the princely House of Liechtenstein. The House of Liechtenstein built some unique romantic buildings in Valtice and its environs: the Empire-style Belveder château, the lookout colonnade (known as Reistna, it is reminiscent of the Gloriette at Schönbrunn in Vienna) and the Temple of Diana (Rendez-vous) in the shape of a memorial arch. There is a unique 5 km long barefoot trail between Valtice and Austrian Schrattenberg.
Three institutions have played an important role in the town’s musical past: the chateau, the parish church and the monastery church of the Order of the Merciful Brothers. Valtice can boast three composers among its natives: Georg Arnold (17th century) – an organ expert and excellent church composer; Johan Caspar Horn (17th century) – dance works in the French style; Johannes Matthias Sperger (18th century) – one of the greatest virtuosos on the contrabass, he left 45 symphonies and a large amount of chamber works.
Valtice and wine: these two terms have been inseparable for hundreds of years. Grape vines were brought here by the Roman legions of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The town’s winemaking tradition is confirmed by the existence of the local specialist winemaking secondary school dating from 1873, which is the only one in the Czech Republic. There is also a Wine Academy here, whose aim is to acquaint the wider public with the area of winemaking. It is possible to taste excellent wines in the Salon of the Wines of the Czech Republic (a wine-tasting display of the 100 best wines from the Czech Republic), in the Château cellar dating from the 15th century (one of the oldest and largest in Europe) or in the Valtice underground (a system of cellars modified as wine cellars – a leftover from the Minorite monastery dating from the 13th century). A 5 km long wine trail with 19 informative panels leads through Valtice. Valtice is home to famous wine cellars, traditional wine producers, wine-making institutions and attractive wine events: it is the capital city of wine. Of our many events, we would like to mention at least the Valtice Wine Markets, the Concentus Moraviae International Music Festival of 13 Towns, the International Cat Exhibition, the International Early Music Summer School, Hencke’s Baroque Organ Festival, the Valtice Wine Celebrations, the folk costume feasts, the bobtail exhibition, the Valtice New Wine Days and the Valtice Grape Harvest.