The Pühalepa Church is Hiiumaa’s oldest stone church. In 1255, the German Order started the construction of a stone fortress-church. Initially lacking a steeple, the arched stone church was completed in the 14th century, but the construction of the steeple was not started until 1770.
During the Livonian war (16th century) the Pühalepa church was plundered, but it was restored again at the beginning of the 17th century. At least it is said that the Scottish admiral Clayton, who died of plague in 1603 in Hiiumaa, was buried in the church with dignity. In the first quarter of the 17th century, the Danes plundered the church.
In 1636 the landlords of Hiiessaare (named Gentschien) donated a gorgeous stone pulpit to the congregation (rare anywhere in Estonia), thus buying themselves the right to be buried in the church choir-room. Their tombstone stands by the southern window of the choir-room.
The Soviet period was just as costly to the church as was the Livonian war. During the occupation, the church was closed, the benches were cut out, the organ was smashed and the church was turned into a warehouse. After independence was regained, the church also recovered. Now the congregation once again owns the church and most of the former church property has been returned. The altarpiece that was lost during the war has been replaced by a colourful stained glass. Services and concerts are held regularly in the church.
The first historical record of Lednice locality dates from 1222. At that time there stood a Gothic fort with courtyard, which was lent by Czech King Václav I to Austrian nobleman Sigfried Sirotek in 1249.
At the end of the 13th century the Liechtensteins, originally from Styria, became holders of all of Lednice and of nearby Mikulov. They gradually acquired land on both sides of the Moravian-Austrian border. Members of the family most often found fame in military service, during the Renaissance they expanded their estates through economic activity. From the middle of the 15th century members of the family occupied the highest offices in the land. However, the family’s position in Moravia really changed under the brothers Karel, Maximilian, and Gundakar of Liechtenstein. Through marriage Karel and Maximilian acquired the great wealth of the old Moravian dynasty of the Černohorskýs of Boskovice. At that time the brothers, like their father and grandfather, were Lutheran, but they soon converted to Catholicism, thus preparing the ground for their rise in politics. Particularly Karel, who served at the court of Emperor Rudolf II, became hetman of Moravia in 1608, and was later raised to princely status by King Matyas II and awarded the Duchy of Opava.
During the revolt of the Czech nobility he stood on the side of the Habsburgs, and took part in the Battle of White Mountain. After the uprising was defeated in 1620 he systematically acquired property confiscated from some of the rebels, and the Liechtensteins became the wealthiest family in Moravia, rising in status above the Žerotíns. Their enormous land holdings brought them great profits, and eventually allowed them to carry out their grandious building projects here in Lednice.
In the 16th century it was probably Hartmann II of Liechtenstein who had the old medieval water castle torn down and replaced with a Renaissance chateau. At the end of the 17th century the chateau was torn down and a Baroque palace was built, with an extensive formal garden, and a massive riding hall designed by Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach that still stands in almost unaltered form.
In the mid-18th century the chateau was again renovated, and in 1815 its front tracts that had been part of the Baroque chateau were removed.
The chateau as it looks today dates from 1846-1858, when Prince Alois II decided that Vienna was not suitable for entertaining in the summer, and had Lednice rebuilt into a summer palace in the spirit of English Gothic. The hall on the ground floor would serve to entertain the European aristocracy at sumptuous banquets, and was furnished with carved wood ceilings, wooden panelling, and select furniture, surpassing anything of its kind in Europe.