CZ, Valec – The Real Baroque
Valec is a compound holding the second largest statue collection of Matyas Bernad Braun in Bohemia. 17 out of 28 survived.
Landscape in the lead role
We are about to visit many architectural landmarks and noticeable works of art belonging to this place. Great experience stemming from this place comes also from its surroundings – the form of the town of Valec and fascinating views over the landscape.
This place mere 40 kilometers off Karlovy Vary is covered by Hradiste – Doupovske hory military compound. It is inaccessible zone neighboring with Valec. This causes the “end of the world” effect. No matter if you come from Podborany or Lubenec, roads end here. Former road blocks consrvated this place in its Baroque form including lower castle and broader surroundings. Not even a marked tourist trail goes there.
New façade is easily visible from afar. You will be getting to it along scarcely populated, rolling landscape of agricultural character. Sometimes you see a forest and a third-class road. It will get you to the center of romantic town. Low houses make a triangular square with the church of St. John the Baptist’s Birth in the middle. Its has a wooden belltower with a peristyle. Some statues are in front of the church and a fountain. Valuable folk architecture buildings are located in the town such as Baroque and Classicist houses, parish, and the church of the Holy Trinity (1710-1728) belonging to the chateau. A Holy Trinity column decorated with Antonin Braun’s statues stands next to it.
A residence of nobility
The chateau was build over a medieval castle destroyed probably by fire in 15th century. Underground corridors below the hill are probably tied to its existence, Later they were used as a beer storage. Today a precious bat species refuge. The chateau expanded over the centuries yet how it happened exactly is not known today. The most important period relevant to the present happened when the chateau was changed by a Baroque makeover, and later the same applied to its gardens as well as the park, which excites so much.
Valec’s golden age starts in 1517. The year marks a 200 years era of the House of Stampachs. Since 1721, enlightened art admirer, Count of Globen replaced the old dynasty. He left us a monumental four-winged chateau with 80 chambers including a small courtyard and two massive towers. Rich decoration later perished under soldiers’ boots and fiersome fire of 1976. Today, the building lacks its former furniture, yet you can walk through it as it was partly renovated. Texts on chateau’s history will be lended to you at the entrance. Indeed, you will enjoy views from its windows. A lantern walk inside the chateau in the dark will give you mysterious atmosphere. The chateau is opened until 11 pm two nights every week.
The icing of this trip is a walk in the park. Its ground plan is made of two perpendicular axes. One goes from the chateau’s front to vanished Neuhaus, an artificial ruins located on a hill 1 kilometer away. Now there is a lake with an island and couple of large stones. Along the line, you can see a teatron with remainings of former sculptural decoration. The road then goes through illusory gates, formerly with forged bars, and perhaps even decorations. Perpendicular axis joins the church and the Holy Trinity column with a summer house, vacant in the present, and an obelisk. It goes around pool and a four-lane alley. On the crossroads of both axes a fountain surrounded with Braun’s statues. Just as at Kuks they symbolize human traits, and antic mythology characters. The most precious work is a bust of Count Spork. He stayed here for a while when coming back from Karlovy Vary . There (just like Goethe later) he drink curable water. At 71 years of age it helped him to regain his strength once again. He fell in love with Count of Globen’s young daughter. The statue in the park displays him holding a book while sitting on a carriage carried by angels. He looks into the face of the Faith. Massive lone trees put finishing touch to majestic scenery. Our fantasy is unleashed … we imagine once marvelous water cascades on the hill. A greenhouse holding precious plants must have been another noticeable marvel. Upon the death of the last gardener in 1945 they all vanished and have not been replaced since.
Mystery of Valec
Archeological excavations at the church of the Holy Trinity uncovered a grave that puzzled archeologist and anthropologists. It contained a skeleton dressed in grave clothes, light shoes on feet. It was probably a woman. She held a crucifix in her hands, and apparently was everything but lower strata. Why she was buried facing east, in contradiction to Christian traditions? Who was she? Why there is no tomb stone?
Perhaps you will find some more answers there... Valec is open year round. Even genius loci will be there any time, day or night, or any season. Come. You will marvel!
Text/photo: Radka Snížková
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