In July, my family visited Prague and Budapest. We saw so many wonderful things that it’s difficult to decide what to share, but I was so enchanted by the morning we spent at Wallenstein Gardens that I decided it was worthy of its own post.
Situated in the middle of the city just below Prague Castle, Wallenstein Palace is in the Baroque style, built by Italian artists for Count Albrecht of Wallenstein between 1624 and 1630. Today the palace houses the Czech Senate, but the reception halls and a few other rooms are open to the public on the weekends. Unfortunately, we were there during the week, so we weren’t able to look inside, but the fabulous gardens more than made up for that. Surprisingly, though we were right in the middle of the city, the gardens were quiet and left you feeling as if you were in your own private sanctuary.
The southern side of the palace opens into the gardens through the Sala Terrena, which is covered with frescoes featuring scenes from mythology.
From there, you walk down into a formal area of the gardens with trimmed boxwood, topiaries, and a series of bronze statues. The original statues created by Adrien de Vries in the seventeenth century were reportedly stolen by the Swedish army at the end of the Thirty Years Wars, but have been recreated.
One of the more surprising features of the garden is the grotto, which is an original feature of the complex. The wall of artificial stalactites includes snakes, owls, and other forms hidden within. We spent a lot of time searching for those hidden animals.
There is also a lovely pond with fountains and a myriad of wildlife including fish, ducks, and surprisingly, peacocks (though they didn’t venture into the water, of course).
One of my favorite things about Prague is that Prague Castle is situated up on top of a hill that can be seen from many parts of the city, and the gardens at Wallenstein have an especially beautiful view.