Between the 17th and 20th centuries, the ruling dukes of Liechtenstein transformed their domains in southern Moravia into a striking landscape. It married Baroque architecture (mainly the work of Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach) and the classical and neo-Gothic style of the castles of Lednice and Valtice with countryside fashioned according to English romantic principles of landscape architecture. At 200 km2, it is one of the largest artificial landscapes in Europe and therefore a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The House of Liechtenstein acquired a castle in Lednice in 1249, which marked the beginning of their settlement in the area. It remained the principal Liechtenstein residence for 700 years, until 1939 and World War II.
The Dukes of Liechtenstein transformed their properties into one large and designed private park between the 17th and 20th centuries. During the 19th century, the Dukes continued transforming the area as a large traditional English landscape park. The Baroque and Gothic Revival style architecture of their chateaux are married with smaller buildings and a landscape that was fashioned according to the English principles of landscape architecture.
In 1715 these two chateaux were connected by a landscape alée and road, later renamed for the poet Petr Bezruč. The Lednice Ponds are situated between the villages of Valtice, Lednice, and Hlohovec. A substantial part of the cultural landscape complex is covered in pine forests and in areas adjacent to the River Dyje with riparian forests.
In the 20th century the region became part of new Czechoslovakia The Liechtenstein family opposed the annexation of Czech territory in the fascist Sudetenland by Nazi Germany, and as a consequence their properties were confiscated by the Nazis, and the family then relocated to Vaduz in 1939. After World War II the family made several legal attempts for restitution of the properties. However, they had passed post-war into ownership by the new Soviet Czechoslovakia. Of course its Communist government did not support returning large estates to exiled aristocratic landowners.
After the Czechoslovakian Velvet Revolution in 1992, the Liechtenstein descendants again renewed legal attempts for restitution, which were denied by the Czech state, the present day owner of the properties.
The principal elements are Chateau Valtice, Chateau Lednice and the village of Hlohovec.References:
The Palazzo Colonna is a palatial block of buildings built in part over ruins of an old Roman Serapeum, and has belonged to the prestigious Colonna family for over twenty generations.
The first part of the palace dates from the 13th century, and tradition holds that the building hosted Dante in his visit to Rome. The first documentary mention notes that the property hosted Cardinal Giovanni and Giacomo Colonna in the 13th century. It was also home to Cardinal Oddone Colonna before he ascended to the papacy as Martin V (1417–1431).
With his passing, the palace was sacked during feuds, and the main property passed into the hands of the Della Rovere family. It returned to the Colonna family when Marcantonio I Colonna married Lucrezia Gara Franciotti Della Rovere, the niece of pope Julius II. The Colonna"s alliance to the Habsburg power, likely protected the palace from looting during the Sack of Rome (1527).
Starting with Filippo Colonna (1578–1639) many changes have refurbished and create a unitary complex around a central garden. Architects including Girolamo Rainaldi and Paolo Marucelli labored on specific projects. Only in the 17th and 18th centuries were the main facades completed. Much of this design was completed by Antonio del Grande (including the grand gallery), and Girolamo Fontana (decoration of gallery). In the 18th century, the long low facade designed by Nicola Michetti with later additions by Paolo Posi with taller corner blocks (facing Piazza Apostoli) was constructed recalls earlier structures resembling a fortification.
The main gallery (completed 1703) and the masterful Colonna art collection was acquired after 1650 by both the cardinal Girolamo I Colonna and his nephew the Connestabile Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna and includes works by Lorenzo Monaco, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Palma the Elder, Salviati, Bronzino, Tintoretto, Pietro da Cortona, Annibale Carracci (painting of The Beaneater), Guercino, Francesco Albani, Muziano and Guido Reni. Ceiling frescoes by Filippo Gherardi, Giovanni Coli, Sebastiano Ricci, and Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari celebrate the role of Marcantonio II Colonna in the battle of Lepanto (1571). The gallery is open to the public on Saturday mornings.
The older wing of the complex known as the Princess Isabelle"s apartments, but once housing Martin V"s library and palace, contains frescoes by Pinturicchio, Antonio Tempesta, Crescenzio Onofri, Giacinto Gimignani, and Carlo Cesi. It contains a collection of landscapes and genre scenes by painters like Gaspard Dughet, Caspar Van Wittel (Vanvitelli), and Jan Brueghel the Elder.
Along with the possessions of the Doria-Pamphilij and Pallavacini-Rospigliosi families, this is one of the largest private art collections in Rome.