Modernism mixes with castles, chateaus and wine in South Moravia 

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South Moravia is the warmest and most fertile region in the Czech Republic—a place where modernism mixes with castles and chateaus and where fruit of the vine coexists with natural landscapes known for their bucolic beauty. It's a great alternative to over-crowded Prague, perhaps providing an even more authentic cultural experience grounded in history and tradition.

The capital of South Moravia is Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic. Located where the Svitava and Svratka Rivers meet, it is often referred to as "Little Vienna" and the "Hidden Heart of Europe." It's a good starting point for exploring the entirety of South Moravia.

Villa Tugendhat

Given the history and heritage associated with Brno, it might be somewhat surprising that the city is also one of the pioneers of functionalist architecture—a style that believes a building should be designed based on its purpose. Buildings are bold, defined by clean lines and functional spaces.

The most famous modernist building in Brno—also listed on the UNESCO list of World Cultural Heritage sites—is Villa Tugendhat. UNESCO cites that, "Its particular value lies in the application of innovative spatial and aesthetic concepts that aim to satisfy new lifestyle needs by taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by modern industrial production."

Villa Tugendhat was designed by the German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and built in 1930 for Greta and Fritz Tugendhat. (They later fled the country one year prior to the outbreak of the Second World War). Located in a wealthy neighbourhood, the functionalist home has plenty of space and green areas surrounding the villa. Inside, clean lines and a somewhat minimalist décor impart an airy spaciousness to the living spaces.

The villa grounds can be toured by the public, but to tour the interior will require a reservation anytime from two to three months in advance. It's probably one of the most popular sites in Brno for tourists.

Brno Reservoir/Veveri Castle

Brno Reservoir is the largest recreation area of the city, a place where the city comes to play, stroll, canoe and even visit Veveri Castle. Located on a rocky shore above Brno Lake, Veveri Castle is thought to be built in the 13th century. There are some indications it may even be older. Starting as a small hunting lodge, it eventually became one of the largest castles in the Czech Republic. Today, it still retains the basic silhouette of a medieval fortress.

Sadly, the complex was severely damaged during the Second World War battles between the German and Red armies in April 1945. Subsequent well-intended transformations inflicted further damage. Despite the scathing, the castle is the target of extensive reconstruction and renovations to reinstate the castle premises to their appearance at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. A source of real pride with Moravians, it is well worth a visit.

Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape

Not many places have received such punctilious and loving care as the unique area surrounding the Lednice and Valtice chateaux. The Lednice-Valtice Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is known as the "Garden of Europe" and quite possibly the largest composed landscape in the world. It is considered as one of the most striking complexes in the English Neo-Gothic and Tudor style. Forests, Empire-style hunting lodges, artificial lakes and river channels are interspersed with Chinese gazebos, bridges and even a minaret. The landscape is a cultural history of the Liechtenstein royal family's reign—one of elegance, grandeur and opulent gardens.

The majestic Baroque Valtice chateau is on one side of the vast holdings and the Tudor-Gothic-style Lednice is on the other, serving as boundary anchors for this one-of-a-kind cultural and natural landscape.

Wine-tasting in Valtice, wine capital of Czech Republic

Valtice houses a historical 15th-century wine cellar underneath the chateau. It's open to guests year-round and offers top-rated wines from all over the country. Also known as the National Wine Centre, you'll discover some of the best Czech wines from different growing regions of the country.

The two wine-growing areas in the Czech Republic are Moravia and Bohemia, both located in the southwestern part of the country. White wines are generally aromatic with some exhibiting minerality from deep loess soils, while red-wine production flourishes in the sub-region of Velkopavlovicka, where clay, marl and sandstone are central to the region. Most frequent varieties in Moravia include: Gruner Veltliner, Muller-Thurgau, Welschriesling, and Riesling for the whites with Blaufrankisch and Saint Laurent for the reds.

Znojmo – South Moravia's prettiest town

A medieval town close to the Austrian border, the small town is known for its old Gothic- and Renaissance-style buildings, labyrinth of underground tunnels and wine. Located on a steep rock outcropping over the Thaya River, its privileged perch presents panoramic views of the town and surrounding countryside dotted with robust vineyards. (Aromatic white wines from this region exhibit with an unmistakable spicy flavour and fullness).

In July 1809, one of the greatest battles of the Napoleonic wars was fought here. However, it is more noted for the Romanesque Rotunda of St. Catherine, an architectural jewel built in the 11th century, also listed as a national cultural monument. Originally it was part of a fortified complex—a system of fortresses that were strategically designed to guard the southern border of modern-day Czech Republic. The most coveted artifactual treasures are religious frescoes depicting the life of Christ. They are considered the oldest frescoes in the entire Czech Republic. Because of their antiquity and fragile status, the rotunda has a climate-controlled environment and restricts number of visitors to preserve the treasured Romanesque art.

For culinary treats, try their renowned pickles and superb white wines.

IF YOU GO:

Czech Tourism/South Moravia

Tourism Authority South Moravia

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