A Southern Spectacle
The popular chateau in the south eastern village of Lednice is the expansive focal point of one of Europe’s largest landscaped areas and has held a place on the UNESCO list since 1996. As breathtaking as it is in it’s beauty, this chateau is equally breathtaking as an example of just how powerful and rich old European nobility could get.
From the late 13th century to 1945, when it was confiscated by the state, the chateau and the lands that surround it belonged to the House of Leichtenstein. Through ambitious business dealings, strategic marriages, religious conversion and acquisition of conficated lands and properties; the Leichtensteins were the wealthiest family on Moravia by the mid 1600s and of ever increasing political influence. From that point on until the Second World War, very little stood in the way of the Leichtensteins transforming their South Moravian landholdings into the magnificent and ostentatious complex we see today.
A Sprawling Summer Home
Structures have existed on the site which the current chateau occupies since the first records were made of the region in the early 1200s. A Gothic fort stood here at the time the land came into Leichtenstein hands and it remained there until it was demolished to make way for a Renaissance chateau in the 1600s.
It was when the Renaissance chateau was demolished in the 1700s so a Baroque one could be built that the beginnings of the present chateau were put in place. It was then that the gardens which surround the chateau were begun and the large riding hall that branches off one side of the chateau was built. While the main chateau saw more renovations, the riding hall has seen very little alteration since it was first constructed.
The chateau’s present Neo-Gothic appearance dates to a renovation in the mid 1800s; it was during this renovation that the cast iron frame English style greenhouse was added.
It was with this renovation that the chateau was officially named the family’s summer residence. As a place to entertain the nobility of the day, it was without peer in luxury and amenities in Europe.
The Chateau Gardens
While the chateau saw little further renovation, the surrounding gardens were continuously worked upon into the 20th century.
Surrounded by French style gardens and and English style park, the chateau is truly a sight to behold when looking at it from any of the carefully landscaped areas around it.
It is the gardens and park which give the chateau its modern appeal and draw for tourism. They represent one of Europe’s largest uninterrupted landscaped areas and it could not be so without the Leichtenstein wealth that allowed the family to own so much continuous land in the first place.
Over time, the area earned the nickname “The Garden of Europe”; a nickname it remains deserving of today.
The Late 20th Century to Today
The Second World War marked a change in the fortunes of the Leichtensteins and they fled Lednice in 1943 and took many of the chateau’s valuables with them to Leichtenstein, the principality on the Swiss-Austrian border which bears their name and where their descendants keep the still noble dynasty alive to this day.
At the end of hostilities in 1945, Czechoslovakia confiscated all Germanic held lands and properties inside its borders. For the chateau at Lednice, this signaled the beginning of a period of decline and degradation.
The 1990s saw not only UNESCO listing for the chateau and its environs but also international effort to restore and repair the structure. As a result, today it is South Moravia’s most popular tourist attraction
Visiting and Learning More
The chateau is only one facet of the 300 square kilometer Lednice-Valtice area, which is full of cycling and walking trails and is home to another Leichtenstein chateau at the nearby town of Valtice.
The area is idyllic and well worth giving at least three days to in order to really take it in. Do keep in mind that it is popular and Lednice is a small village so you will certainly need to plan ahead if you wish to take accommodation there for your visit.
This link will take you to the chateau’s official website.