the Lichtensteins are prominently present on the facade of the church in Valtice

In the Valtice and Lednice region the extravagant former palaces of the Lichtenstein family dominate, but this is also the most wellknown Czech wine area – with mixed results.

The area around Valtice and neighbouring Lednice is a good example of how European nobility operated in the Middle Ages. There are two palaces here, both until the expulsion of Germans in 1945 owned by the Lichtenstein family, those of present-day Grand Duchy fame. Oh, and before 1945 they also owned  some 1600 km2 of land in the Czech Republic alone, ten times the size of the present-day Principality of Lichtenstein.

the Lednice palace behind some of the palace garden hedges

the green house in front of the Lednice palace

view of the entire palace

more tightly cropped palace garden hedges

and perfectly maintained, colourful flower beds

The two palaces are seven kilometres apart. Why you need two of those, only seven kilometres apart, it beats me, but I suppose if you have so much money you don’t know what to do anymore, you build another palace in your own back garden. After all, at the hight of their power and influence, the Lichtensteins owned no less than 99 estates – one more, and they would be obliged to maintain a standing army serving the Habsburg emperor.

and one of the decorated pillars inside

more of the green house

The folly doesn’t stop here. At one of the palaces, in Lednice, extravagantly refurbished in the 18th and 19th Centuries, there is not only a tropical plants house, a wrought-iron and glass structure full of palm trees and orchids, but also a huge park. In part, this constitutes the palace gardens, with beautiful flower beds and short-cropped hedges. But the larger share of the park is given over to an array of completely unnecessary structures, built by the Lichtensteins for personal entertainment and amusement: there is – showpiece – a 60 meter tall minaret, there is an aqueduct leading to nowhere, a castle ruin – built as a ruin! -, an exotic pavilion. But most of all, it is a pleasant walking area, around ponds, across deer-filled meadows and through forests.

an artistic view on the inside of the green house (courtesy of my creative travel companion)

tropical flowers

and more tropical flowers

in all possible colours

including greens, less flowery

colours galore

and another creative view of the glass house (again, courtesy of my travel companion)

the minaret

and an Arab pavilion

free range deer in the park

and another of the many fish ponds

a moth-like butterfly – or butterfly-like moth

the palace in Veltice, equallu extravagant

entrance to the inner courtyard of the palace

the huge bottle announcing the wine bar of the chateau

the cellars of the chateau wine bar

bottle stored in another wine bar

The palace in Valtice is equally extravagant, but without the park of follies. The palace is at the edge of town, which is nice in itself, with a large central square WITHOUT pastel-coloured medieval houses, but plenty of terraces linked to wine tasting opportunities – the reason we had chosen our accommodation in Valtice. Many of the wine bars are linked to specific wine producers, and can let  you taste a range of different wines with the most fabulous grape names. There is the Rulandski Bile and the Rulandski Sede – Pinot Blanc and Gris, respectively -, the Ryzlink Rynsky (Rhine Riesling), Veltlinsky Zelene (Gruner Veltliner), as well as local grapes like Palava and Tramin and several others. The business model is clear: you buy a glass of wine per 10 or 20 cl, no freebies, no give-aways, even a piece of bread or a cracker needs to be paid for, in between the tasting. Obviously, we tried several – wines and wine bars -, but we were mostly unimpressed, by the nil-flexibility attitude in the wine bars, which is mostly about selling, not about making you appreciate the local product, and by the mostly mediocre quality of the wine. The Pinot Noir (Rulandski Modre) is perhaps the only drinkable exception. We even took a few bottles home.

next: the karst landscape and caves of Moravsky Kras

the range of tasting possebilities, including prices per small glass

outside the village, vines and sun flowers

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