The beautiful Lednice-Valtice Complex in South Moravia, which has been skilfully “decorated” by a number of stunning buildings and vast parks, has featured on the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage list since 1996. The splendour of the castles touches many a romantic soul, the numerous cycling trails will please sporty types and nature lovers and wine enthusiasts will enjoy visiting the Wine Salon of the Czech Republic. The Lednice-Valtice Complex is considered to be the largest landscaped area in Europe and it is a must-see for any visitor.
The heritage of the Lichtenstein noble family
The Lichtenstein family is one of the oldest and wealthiest Austrian noble families. Legend has it, however, that the forefather of the Lichtensteins was a poor miner who managed to earn a modest living by his hard work. Once, while he was digging deep under the ground, a fairy appeared who took him to the end of a long forgotten mine shaft and said: “Dig here” before disappearing. The miner set about the work and after a while a stone broke loose from the rock which started to sparkle in the palm of his hand. That is why the family came to be known as Lichtenstein (from German – licht = light, stein = stone).
Architectural and natural features
It was the Lichtenstein family who spent centuries developing the Lednice-Valtice Complex which is a collection of fascinating buildings. Among the most attractive and spectacular are Lednice Castle, the Minaret viewing-tower and Valtice Castle (pictured above). There are many smaller buildings and castles well worth visiting such as Rybnicni, Pohansko, Hranicni, Hunting, Belveder and Lany, temples including Apollon´s, Tri Gracie, Rendezvous and Reistna, the forest chapel of St Hubert, the imperial-style farm steading Novy dvur, the John´s Castle ruin, the Moorish Waterworks, the Aqueduct and many others.
The entrance gate
The town of Breclav is the entrance gate to the Lednice-Valtice Complex. The town was named after the prince Bretislav who built a castle here in the 11th Century. The town is located on the River Dyje close to the borders with Austria and Slovakia. If you travel to Breclav on the train from Austria you can enjoy the route which the first train ever to enter the Czech lands took back in 1893. Breclav, which is also known as the heart of the Podluzi Region, has a rich folklore. A number of events featuring performers in traditional folk costumes take place throughout the summer and culminate at the end of September with the traditional St Wenceslas Festival celebrating the wine harvest.
Valtice Castle and the Wine Salon of the Czech Republic
This architectural gem was originally built as a renaissance castle but was later re-built in the baroque style. It has more than 100 rooms and 17 are accessible to the public. Visitors can learn about the life of the nobility in the 17th and 18th centuries. The castle cellars are home to the Wine Salon of the Czech Republic where visitors can taste the 100 best Czech wines rated in a national competition. There is also a permanent exposition exploring wine and the wine growing regions of the Czech Republic.
Lednice Castle and the botanical garden
You will feel as if you are travelling back in time as you explore the interior of this spectacular building. You should not forget to pay a visit to the large green-house which is attached to the right side of the castle and houses numerous species of exotic plants. In its time the green-house was a technically very advanced building and is still classified as a technical sight today. Tropical and sub-tropical plans were imported from South America and they have been planted in such a way that there are plants in bloom throughout the year.
Lednice-Valtice Complex gave birth to the pencil
Josef Hardtmuth was a court architect of the Lichtenstein family. He used graphite to draw plans and sketches. He hated the fact that his hands were dirty all day long so he was constantly thinking of how to wrap the graphite up in a piece of wood. Eventually he came up with the pencil as we know it today which prevents one’s hands getting dirty and doesn’t break all the time. He acquired a patent for this invention in 1802 and started manufacturing the product in Lednice.
The so-called Lichtenstein Paths are a unique complex of cycling trails connecting the most beautiful sights in the Lednice-Valtice Complex and Lower Austria. It comprises five cycling trails altogether marked by the Lichtenstein coat-of-arms: Knizeci (31 km), Breclavska (13,5 km), Postorenska (11,5 km), Lednicka (18 km) and Valticka (24 km). Whichever one you choose you won´t be disappointed.