Thursday, 24 July 2008

More on the Castle Gardens

Many visitors to Cesky Krumlov Castle never make it into the Gardens. If they do they very seldom get beyond the formal gardens nearest the Castle. In so doing they are missing out on one of my favourite haunts. The formal gardens are very fine with formal flower beds, terraces, sculptures and fountain, but beyond these are more informal areas.

It is here that you will find both the summerhouse and the revolving auditorium featured in my last post. As you will have gathered the summerhouse is a rare rococo gem and well worth viewing, although many walk past it without a glance. Below is a photo of the summer house from outside the gardens, which show the level of decoration.

Beyond that crouched in the trees is a little pavilion - its ceiling decorated with 18th century frescos. These frescos, shown below, like the masquerade hall in the castle, betray a sense of fun and amusement so in keeping with the time in which they were created. The gardens are for walking in and giving pleasure. The walks are treelined to proffer shade in the summer leading to a pond. You will not find many tourists here, but you will find the locals - walking with their children to feed the ducks and squirrels, sitting on the grass engrossed in a book or lying asleep among the wild flowers. It is place to visit in all seasons - in spring when the first flowers appear, in summer to escape the sun's glare or in autumn when the leaves are falling. Sadly in Winter it is closed to visitors.

And as you walk you can feel the shades of the castle's former residents walking and laughing too. This is a garden of pleasure and mystery. In these modern days we have lost the ability to read the puzzles of garden design that so amused our 18th century forebears, with their references to classical mythology, masonic and alchemical symbols. What we enjoy is a shadow, but a very fine shadow at that.

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