Krásný Dvůr is a Baroque palace with English-style landscape park and a garden inspired by that of Versailles. The first records of Krasný Dvůr date back to the 14th century, since then numerous aristocratic families held possession of it until Count Hermann Czernin von und zu Chudenitz bought it in the middle of the 17th century. Count Franz Josef Czernin von und zu Chudenitz decided to start an extensive reconstruction on a Renaissance villa built on the site of a Gothic stronghold originally constructed by Jan Maštovský of Kolovraty at the end of the 16th century.
The reconstruction project was undertaken by well-known Czech architect František Maxmilián Kaňka and was distinctly influenced by the French architecture; construction went on between 1720 and 1724. Some alterations of Chateau buildings were made at the end of the 18th century; in 1783 the chapel was erected, in 1791–92 two-pair staircases were built in the court and in the northern garden and ground arcades were walled at the same time.
Eighteen rooms and lobby galleries are open to the public. Excellent and very valuable paintings of Czech and European artists are installed here (some of the most well-known being Petr Brandl, Karel Škréta, Ludvík Kohl, Josef Bergler, Filip Kristian Benthum, Kristian Brand, Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun and a number of others), and a number of graphic arts, porcelain, china, glass, earthenware, clocks, original Adam fireplaces, furniture and other samples of historical craftsmen's skills are to be seen. Some thematic collections are also remarkable (e.g. an extensive Baroque pictorial anthology of dog-portrayals by artist Petr Václav.
The park in Krásný Dvůr, the area of which amounts to 1.0 km2, was founded in 1783–1793 by Johann Rudolf Czernin von und zu Chudenitz. He was influenced partly by his botanic inclinations and then also by his journey around Western Europe, which he undertook in 1779. In those days a new park trend had begun expanding into Europe from England. Natural scenery was to be brought into the very neighbourhood of buildings according to this trend. The principle of the landscape park is based directly on the condition of a natural landscape, not an artificially man-made one. The Chateau Park on Krásný Dvůr is true evidence of this school of thought. In accordance with taste of those days it was brightened with a number of Romantic buildings enriching vacant fields or closing various vistas of park scenes.
From the dendrological point of view you can find more than one hundred species of trees in the park, and entirely domestic or domesticated species only. A number of ancient oaks, beeches, limes, horse chestnuts, plane trees, maples and alders grow there. The most important of them is the so-called Goethe's oak (today already only a torso), the age of which is estimated at 1,000 years, which ranks it among the oldest trees in the Czech Republic. Deeper in the park we find Pan's-Temple, the Obelisk, the Vantage Pavilion, Goethe's Pavilion, a memorial plaque with the engraved names of important people who have visited the park, a hermitage, a grotto with a sarcophagus and other interesting objects. The so-called French garden, situated behind the eastern part of the Chateau, is also of note. Its parterre is solved with a pond and grassy areas, which are embellished with large yew-trees and smaller box-trees.References:
The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.
The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.
The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.
The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.
Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.
At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.
In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.