Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Let's take a stroll amidst fragrant roses

I patiently wait for warm weather to arrive...very patiently. Ever so patiently. When it finally does, Prague just comes alive with the sounds of chatter and laughter, birds singing, and music fills the air. It's a vibrant, beautiful city all year round, but the warm weather brings about a buzz that you just can't feel.

One of my favorite things to do on a warm and sunny day is to stroll around the garden at Wallenstein Palace.

Wallenstein Garden (Valdštejnská Zahrada) belongs to Wallenstein Palace, the seat of the Senate of the Czech Republic.

Wallenstein Palace

The palace and garden were built in 1623-1630 in early Baroque style. Its construction was commissioned by one of the most powerful and wealthiest Czech noblemen, General Albrecht Vaclav Eusebius of Wallenstein (1583-1634). The palace was to be his Prague residence.

Albert spent only 12 months in the palace before he was killed in 1634 on emperor's orders. Nevertheless, he spent a lot of money on decorating the palace with carpets, tapestries and furniture, most brought over from Italy and the Netherlands. Unfortunately, none of this is left in the palace today - nearly all valuables were taken by the Swedish in 1648 as war booty.

The palace remained with the Wallenstein family until 1945. After that it belonged to the Czechoslovak state. Today, it is used as a seat for the Senate.

And, of course, Czech history doesn't come without a ghost story!
It's said that in front of the Palace, the headless ghost of a bellman appears. Apparently, said bellman used to wake Albert up at night, which made him so angry that he cut off the bellman's head. Ouch.

Dutch sculptor Adriaen de Vries made a series of sculptures representing Greek mythology for the garden in 1626. Sadly, they were also taken away as war booty by the Swedes and can be seen in the garden of Drootningholm Castle in Sweden. The sculptures in Wallenstein Garden are replicas.



The only sculpture given back to Prague is Venus with Amor and a dolphin by Benedikt Wurzelbauer from 1599. It's placed in the Prague Castle Gallery, but there's a replica in the Wallenstein can view it at the bronze fountain in front of the sala terrena.

Venus with Amor and a dolphin in front of the sala terrena

The sala terenna was built in 1627 by Andrea Spezza. It's 30 meters high and has three arcades. The walls of sala terrena are adorned by frescoes and stuccoes representing the Trojan War by Baccio di Bianco. If you have the opportunity, attend a concert in the sala terrena. It's like being transported by music to a fairytale land!

Wallenstein Garden is open April through October from 10 am - 6 pm. Concerts are held in spring and summer and are mostly free.

Letenská, Prague 1 (city centre)

There are three entrances to the garden:
- Gate from Metro at station Malostranska
- From the first yard of Wallenstein Palace
- From Letenská Street