A Visit to Four Gardens

A Visit to Four Gardens

prague castle garden floral designThroughout history, gardens have mirrored the social, political and religious outlook of the times. While this tour focuses on gardens of the Renaissance and the Baroque periods, there are also horticultural gems scattered around the city dating from Medieval to modern times, from cloistered gardens to sprawling picturesque wonders. Earlier Medieval gardens were primarily cultivating herbs for medicinal or culinary use and have only been preserved in certain Gothic cloisters. Vineyards on the hills around Prague also date back to before Charles IV. But the idea of a large palace garden only emerged in the 1500s with Emperor Ferdinand I, who was particularly keen on the lush Mediterranean gardens inspired by the Italian Renaissance. Ferdinand’s fascinated reaction was to bring classicism north of the Alps, importing a formidable team of Italian gardeners and architects to the capital of Bohemia.

PragueGardens4Highlights of the Garden’s Renaissance zeitgeist include the Belvedere summer palace commissioned by Ferdinand I as a present to his wife Queen Anne, although she did not live to see its completion. One of the reliefs depicts Ferdinand gallantly presenting his wife with a flower from the Royal gardens surrounding the palace. Designed by the Italian Paola della Stella, it is often described as the most beautiful renaissance structure outside of Italy. In front of this pleasure palace is a Giardinetto with the so-called Singing Fountain cast in 1564 in bell bronze so that the dropping of water into the bowl causes it to resonate or “sing.” Our walk moves through the Fig House and the Orangery, where figs, almonds, oranges and lemons were grown for the first time in Central Europe. Towards the western end we consider how tulips, a hitherto unknown flower in Europe, were introduced to the Royal gardens as an exotic gift by the Turkish Sultan of Constantinople. The bulbs were later exported throughout Europe, including the Netherlands where they reached extraordinary popularity ultimately causing Tulipomania crash, the tulip bulb speculative bubble of the 1630s!

PragueGardens5We admire the stag moat, before crossing through the castle courtyards and descending the Bull Stairs to the South Gardens. After visiting a few of the sites in the Garden of Paradise and the Garden on the Bulwark, we will walk down the hill through a collection of lovely terraced gardens below the castle. At the bottom of the hill is the breathtaking and grand Wallenstein Garden, with its albino peacocks, mannerist statues, grotto wall and mythical fountains. Here, we learn not only of the transition from Renaissance classicism to Baroque philosophies, but also of the dramatic life of the garden’s commissioner, Albrecht von Wallenstein, who rose meteorically to prominence as the Supreme Commander of the armies of the Hapsburg Empire, only to be assassinated by his wary emperor for the political power he amassed from his victories in the Thirty Year’s War.

PragueGardens6As a graceful conclusion, we help you to encounter the Vrtba Garden, a hidden gem of a Baroque walled garden from 1720 in Lesser Town (Mala Strana), rarely seen by visitors to Prague even though it provides a luminous glimpse into life of nobility in the 18th century and the aesthetics of Baroque landscaping. When you climb to the very top courtyard with its marine-themed grotto, you are also rewarded by beautiful vistas of Prague’s cityscape.

Bonita RhoadsBonita Rhoads Bonita Rhoads earned her PhD in Comparative Literature from Yale University in 2009. She was a lecturer at Charles University in Prague and an assistant professor at Masaryk University in Brno (the Czech Republic’s second city) for a decade before leaving university teaching to run her scholar-led guided walks company, Insight Cities. A native of New York City, Bonita moved to Prague in 2003 along with her husband, Vadim, co-founder of Insight Cities. She publishes on topics in nineteenth-century British and American literature. Her delight in her remarkable adopted city led her to become a dedicated student of Prague’s cultural and political history.
Kateřina PrůšováKateřina Průšová After studying Medieval Architecture at the Università per Stranieri, Perugia, Italy and Art History at the Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier III, France, Kateřina Průšová received her PhD from the Institute of Art History in the Philosophical Faculty of Charles University, Prague. A lecturer in Art History at both Charles and Anglo-American Universities, she is also an official guide of the Prague Jewish Museum, a docent for the National Gallery on the collection of old masters at the Sternberg Palace, for the St. Agnes Monastery, and for the newly opened exhibition of Alfons Mucha's The Slav Epic at the Veletržní palace. In 2010 and 2011, she was a guest lecturer on Medieval Art at the University of New Orleans.
GeorgeGeorge Thompson A citizen of the United States, George has lived in cities around the world. He has degrees in physics, the Japanese language and in architecture. George has a passion for uncovering the details in all that surrounds him which has led him to discover hidden and overlooked sites in the Golden City. His tours are bent toward exploring the beauty of the buildings and gardens of Prague that express the ideas and culture throughout the city's long history. He loves photography and will point out photographic shots along the way. George's work experience in small-town preservation and the urban fabric of community development lend insight into Prague's history.
  • Reserve Your Walk

    For walks within 48 hours, please e-mail a request to: [email protected]
    or phone: (+420) 777 036 515

    For private walks please see the link below the calendar

 

To order a private tour for your groups of up to 10, click our link right below Reserve Private Walk
 

Note
Gardens are closed during winter season from November until March

 

Starting Location

Entrance of Hotel Aria Tržiště 368/9, 118 00 Praha-Malá Strana

 

Additional Costs:


Vrtbovská Garden admission fee: Individual: CZK 62
students & seniors: CZK 52

Gardens under Prague Castle

admission fee:

Individual: CZK 90
students & seniors: CZK 60

 

Groups of over 10 should contact us at [email protected] in order to get a special rate for their party.

Cancellation and Tipping


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