Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Valtice Castle

Valtice Castle -

Valtice Chateau,originally a medieval castle, was  founded perhaps in the 12th century by the bishops of Passau or  by  the Austrian Seefelds (Valtice belonged to the Lower Austria until1920). From 1387 until 1945 it remained in the hands of the Liechtenstein family. The castle was rebuilt several times, alterations in the Renaissance stylewere made in the 2nd half of the 16th century. Damaged by the Swedes in the years 1645 - 1646, it had to undergo the long-term  Baroque reconstruction. The original Renaissance part of the former castle was converted into a two-storey entrance façade, in places of other buildings three wings of the chateau complex were constructed and a garden was established. At the same time the area between the castle and the town was turned into the court of honor (farm buildings,  a theater, a riding hall, etc.). Prestigious architects were involved with the construction of the chateau -  F. Carratti, G.G. Tencalla, A. and J.K. Ernas, D. Martinelli, A. Beduzzi, A.Ospel as well as a sculptor F. Biener and a plasterer Alberti. During the 18th century castle gardens and a park were remodelled, in the early 19th century extensive alterations  of surrounding landscape were made for John I  Lichtenstein. In 1945 the Czechoslovak state took over the care and maintenance of the property.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Špilberk Castle

Špilberk Castle is an old castle on the hilltop in Brno, Southern Moravia. It began to be built as early as the first half of the 13th century by the Přemyslid kings and complete by King Ottokar II of Bohemia. From a major royal castle established around the mid-13th century, and the seat of the Moravian margraves in the mid-14th century, it was gradually turned into a huge baroque fortress considered the heaviest prison in the Austro-Hungarian empire, and then into barracks. This prison had always been part of the Špilberk fortress. In 1620, after losing The Battle of White Mountain on November 8, the leading Moravian members of the anti-Habsburg insurrection were imprisoned in Špilberk for several years. The town of Brno bought the castle in 1560 and made it into a municipal fortress. The bastion fortifications of Špilberk helped Brno to defend itself against Swedish raids during the Thirty Years' War, and then successful defence led to further fortification and the strengthening of the military function of the fortress. At the same time Špilberk was used as a prison. Protestants were the first prisoners forced to serve time here, followed later by participants in the revolutions of 1848-49, although hardened criminals, thieves and petty criminals were also kept here. Franz Freiherr von der Trenck, Austrian soldier and one of the most controversial persons of the period was also jailed and died here on October 4, 1749. Later, apart from several significant French revolutionaries captured during the coalition wars with France, Jean-Baptiste Drouet, famous as the former postmaster of Saint-Menehould who had arrested King Louis XVI, was the most known of them all. A group of fifteen Hungarian Jacobins led by the writer Ferenc Kazinczy was also especially noteworthy. More than a quarter of a century later, from 1822 on, specially constructed cells for "state prisoners" in the northern wing of the former fortress were filled with Italian patriots known as Carbonari, who had fought for the unification, freedom and independence of their country. The poet Silvio Pellico, who served a full eight years here, made the Špilberk prison famous all over Europe with his book Le mie prigioni - My prisons. The last large "national" group of political prisoners at Špilberk consisted of nearly 200 Polish revolutionaries, mostly participants in the Kraków Uprising of 1846. After that, the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph dissolved the Špilberk prison in 1855, and after departure of the last prisoners three years later, its premises were converted into barracks which remained as such for the next hundred years.
Špilberk entered public consciousness as a centre of tribulation and oppression on two more occasions; firstly, during the First World War when, together with military prisoners, civilian objectors to the Austro-Hungarian regime were imprisoned here, and secondly in the first year of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. Several thousand Czech patriots suffered in Špilberk at that time, some of whom were put to death. For the majority of them however, Špilberk was only a station on their way to other German prisons and concentration camps. In 1939-41, the German army and Gestapo carried out an extensive reconstruction at Špilberk in order to turn it into model barracks in the spirit of the so beloved romantic historicism of the German Third Reich ideology. The Czechoslovak army left Špilberk in 1959, putting to a definite end its military era. The following year, Špilberk became the seat of the Brno City Museum.

Brno City

Brno City -

Brno by population and area is the second largest city in the Czech Republic, the largest Moravian city, and the historical capital city of the Margraviate of Moravia. Brno is the administrative center of the South Moravian Region where it forms a separate district Brno-City District. The city lies at the confluence of the Svitava and Svratka rivers and has about 400,000 residents, its greater metropolitan area[6] is regularly home to more than 800,000 people while its larger urban zone had population of about 730,000 in 2004. Brno is the capital of judicial authority of the Czech Republic – it is the seat of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, the Supreme Administrative Court, and the Supreme Public Prosecutor's Office. Beside that, the city is a significant administrative centre. It is the seat of a number of state authorities like Ombudsman, Office for the Protection of Competition[9] and the Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority. Brno is also an important centre of higher education, with 33 faculties belonging to 13 institutes of higher learning and about 89,000 students. There is also a studio of Czech Television and the Czech Radio, in both cases by law. Brno Exhibition Centre ranks among the largest exhibition centres in Europe (23rd in the world). The complex opened in 1928 and established the tradition of large exhibitions and trade fairs held in Brno. Brno is also known for hosting motorbike and other races on the Masaryk Circuit, a tradition established in 1930 in which the Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix is one of the most prestigious races. Another notable cultural tradition is an international fireworks competition, Ignis Brunensis, that usually attracts one or two hundred thousand daily visitors. The most visited sights of the city include the castle and fortress Špilberk and the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul on Petrov hill, two formerly medieval buildings that form the characteristic cityscape and are often depicted as its traditional symbols. The other large preserved castle near the city is Veveří Castle by the Brno Dam Lake. This castle is the site of a number of legends, as are many other places of Brno. Another important monument of Brno is the functionalist Villa Tugendhat which has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. One of the natural sights nearby is the Moravian Karst.
History of Brno
Brno was recognised as a town in 1243 by Wenceslaus I, King of Bohemia, but the area had been settled since the 2nd century. It is mentioned in Ptolemy's atlas of Magna Germania as Eburodunum. From the 11th century, a castle of the governing Přemyslid dynasty stood here, and was the seat of the non-ruling prince. During the 14th century, Brno became one of the centres for the Moravian regional assemblies, whose meetings alternated between Brno and Olomouc. These assemblies made political, legal, and financial decisions. They were also responsible for maintaining regional records. During the Hussite Wars, the city remained faithful to Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor. The Hussites twice laid siege to the city, once in 1428 and again in 1430, both times in vain. During the Thirty Years' War, in 1643 and 1645, Brno was the only city to succeed in defending itself against Swedish sieges, thereby allowing the Austrian Empire to reform its armies and to repel the Swedes. In recognition of its services, the city was rewarded with a renewal of its city privileges. In the years following the Thirty Years' War, the city became an impregnable Baroque fortress. In 1742, the Prussians vainly attempted to conquer the city, and the position of Brno was confirmed with the establishment of a bishopric in 1777. In 1805, The Battle of Austerlitz took place about 10 kilometers (6 miles) southeast of Brno. In the 18th century, development of industry and trade began, and continued into the next century. Soon after the industrial revolution, the town became one of the industrial centres of Moravia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire – sometimes referred to as the "Moravian Manchester". In 1839, the first train arrived in Brno. Together with the development of industry came the growth of the suburbs, and the city lost its fortifications, as did the Spielberg fortress, which became a notorious prison to which were sent not only criminals, but also political opponents of the Austrian Empire. Gas lighting was introduced to the city in 1847 and trams in 1869. Mahen Theatre in Brno was the first theatre building in Europe to use Edison's electric lamps, Thomas Edison then visited Brno in 1911 to see the theatre. During the "First Republic" (1918–1938), Brno continued to grow in importance – Masaryk University was established (1919), the state armoury and automotive factory Československá státní zbrojovka Brno was established (1919), and the Brno Fairgrounds were opened in 1928 with an exhibition of contemporary culture. The city was not only a centre of industry and commerce, but also of education and culture (see the section on notable people from Brno). In 1939, Brno was annexed by Nazi Germany along with the rest of Moravia and Bohemia. All Czech higher education institutions were closed down on 17 November including four universities in Brno. 173 students were sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp and Kounic's students residence was transformed into Gestapo headquarters and prison. Brno was liberated on 26 April 1945 by Red Army after more than two weeks of heavy fighting. After the war, and the reestablishment of the Czechoslovak state, the majority of the ethnic German population (except antifascists, members of the resistance, mixed marriages, etc.) was expelled to Germany or Austria. The expulsion of some 20,000 Germans is referred to as Brno death march. 

Monastery of Kladruby

Monastery of Kladruby -

Established by Prince Vladislav I in 1115, the Benedictine monastery at Kladruby was set into a sparsely settled landscape inhabited by Slavonic population. It was provided with vast estates; in particular, in a triangle formed by the Mže River, the Úhlavka River and the frontier forest. The first Czech monks were soon joined by missionaries from the nearby town of Zwiefalten. Close relation with Zwiefalten were being kept even later, when the Czechs recovered their numerical superiority in the monastery. Several times, the monastery became a venue of discreet diplomatic negotiations. For example, against the background of the culminating conflict between the Czech church and the temporal lords, Přemysl I met here representatives of the curia. After having been Gothicized, the original Romanesque church was consecrated in King Wenceslas I’s presence in 1233. Sometime around 1233, under Abbot Reiner, the village of (Old) Kladruby was established in the vicinity of the monastery; namely, next to the current churchyard. By virtue of the astute Abbot Reiner’s purposive acquisition activities, the monastery considerably expanded its estates around Kladruby. During the second half of the 14th century, the power and significance of the monastery constantly grew thanks to new privileges and progressive economic method. Another important feature was the development of the nearby locality of Kladruby, which was elevated to the township at that time. The monastery then possessed 128 villages administered by three provosts based at Kladruby, Touškov and Přeštice. Kladruby Monastery several times feasted Emperor Charles IV. Soon afterwards, however, Kladruby became a point of intersection where interests of the country’s top dignitaries incessantly clashed, thereby endangering the position of the monastery per se. Wenceslas IV decided to undermine the position of one of his most adamant adversaries, The Prague Archbishop John of Jenštejn, by establishing a new bishopric conceived to take over the estates owned by the monastery at Kladruby. Upon the death of Kladruby monastery’s Abbot Racek in 1393, however, the opponents managed to thwart the King’s intentions by promptly electing a new abbot, with the election immediately approved by the Archbishop’s Vicar, John of Pomuk. The resulting fierce conflict brought the archbishop into exile. After having been tortured, the half-dead John of Pomuk was thrown by the King’s adherents from the Prague Charles’ Bridge down to the Vltava River. Originally, the Hussite revolutionary movement only meant material damage to Kladruby, since the monastery had to provide financial aid to Emperor Sigismund. In 1421, however, the partially fortified monastery was conquered by John Žižka of Trocnov, with the monks having fled in time to Regensburg with their most precious possessions. Afterwards, the Benedictines intermittently returned and fled, but they eventually failed to prevent the neighbouring Utraquist and Catholic aristocrats from annexing the monastic lands. In 1467, the monastery was devastated due to the fights of the baronial league and the Crusaders against King George of Poděbrady. Until the late 15th century, consequently, the monastery frequently had to pawn and sell its property. The economic situation improved only slowly, with new mining and fish-pond-cultivating activities modestly contributing to the rehabilitation of the monastic domain. Simultaneously, the nearby townships of Touškov and Kladruby started to flourish again. Featured by the demanding reconstruction of Our Lady’s church (re-consecrated in 1504) and increasing diplomatic activities, the resurgence of the monastery did not last for long. With the position of the monastery perpetually unstable, even the fairly competent abbots failed to successfully face a host of unfavourable events at that time. Several misfortunes, including the extensive fire, which devastated the monastic buildings in 1590, along with prematurely abdicating abbots and incessant internal quarrels, only testify that the development of the monastery during the 16th century was not favourable. The Thirty Year’s War resulted in conquering and plundering the monastery and the nearby township by both the warring parties. Nevertheless, the monastery managed to take advantage of the Catholic Church’s post-war boom to retrieve the worst losses in a short time (as late as the mid-17th  century, Kladruby Monastery possessed two townships and 28 villages). For that reason, the monastery could afford to carry out a challenging repair of Our Lady’s church as early as 1653. At that time, the grave of the monastery’s founder, Prince Vladislav I was uncovered, with the princely remains transferred to the altar situated in the nave. Within the framework of the 1728 remodelling, the remains were transferred to the high altar. The comprehensive reconstruction of the convent was completed in 1670, with the prelate’s old residence erected between 1664 and 1670. Notably, the monastery became a place of pilgrimage in 1658. the late 17th century and the first half of the 18th century witnessed the genuine heyday of Kladruby, with the monastery irreversibly securing its position in the surrounding landscape and going down in the history of Czech architecture. At that time, the monastery entered its final stage, marked by the activities of the so-called great abbots and builders; namely, Maurus Fintzgut, Josef Sieber and Amandus Streer. By regaining its farmstead at Přeštice in 1705 and buying some minor estates, the monastery virtually completed the rehabilitation of its property, thereby creating a material base for its subsequent activities. Consequently, in 1712 the monastery commenced the far-reaching remodelling of its dome. Supervised by the distinguished Baroque master-builder, Johann Blasius Santini – Aichel, the remodelling was completed in 1726, bringing about the culmination of the Czech Baroque Gothic style, primarily represented by Santini. One of the largest ecclesiastical structures throughout Bohemia, Our Lady’s church at Kladruby was completed and consecrated in 1726. After that, the works continued by erecting the new convent and the prelate’s new residence. The design was allegedly made by Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer. By 1739, north and south wings had been completed, with the monks being ushered into the new convent. The construction works, as a whole, were completed before 1770. The above mentioned abbots managed to stabilise the monastic estates, accelerate their economic development, strengthen the order and discipline within the monastery, and considerably enhance the monastic library. Moreover, they bolstered the monastery’s prestige by buying sacred remains and various works of art, as well as by gaining new privileges. Orientated towards the enlightened system of government, the state authorities, however, tended to increasingly interfere with the monastic jurisdiction, with the threat of dissolving the Benedictine order and closing the monastery still looming. Like many other monasteries, the Benedictine convent at Kladruby was eventually dissolved by Emperor Joseph II in 1785, two years after the death of Amand Streer who had no successor. The monastery’s movables were sold up by auction and the monks dispersed. Consisting of 38 villages, 15 farmsteads and 9 mills, the domain was then administered by a religious fund. In 1798, the monastic structures were utilised as a military hospital, temporarily housing Trappist monks from France before they left for Russia. Between 1800 and 1818, the monastery served as barracks, hospital and disabled soldiers’ home. In 1825, Kladruby Monastery (along with the surrounding lands and 23 villages) was bought by Field Marshal Prince Alfred Windischgrätz at 275 500 guldens. Nevertheless, he only paid one half of that amount, with the rest remitted thanks to his loyal support of the Austrian monarchy. Windischgrätz principally proved his loyalty by uncompromisingly intervening against insurgents in Prague, Vienna and Hungary in 1848. Having their ancestral residence nearby at Tachov, the lords of Windischgrätz paid little attention to Kladruby. In 1864 they established a brewery inside the original convent, with Our Lady’s church left to its fate. The situation did not change until 1918, when the Windischgrätz family lost its Tachov domain due to the land reform. Moreover, the main family line died out and the estates had to be divided. The new owner, Aladar Windischgrätz moved to Kladruby along with his great library and family archives. The Windischgrätz family possessed the Kladruby domain until the 1945 confiscation executed in compliance with the presidential decree. Administered by the Czech Ministry of Agriculture and the National Land Office, the lands were cultivated by Czechoslovak State Farms and Czechoslovak State Forests. Negotiations on allocating the monastic property to the Benedictine Order were held in 1946, with a pertaining allocation decree already issued, but the Benedictines did not take over the property. Accordingly, the property was conveyed to the Prague-based National Cultural Commission. After 1960 the condition of the monastery deteriorated due to housing headquarters of a state farm. After having been taken over by the Pilsen-based Regional Conservation Office in 1967, the monastery at Kladruby was opened to the public. Comprehensive reconstruction works have been conducted here since early 1970s, with the most substantial progress achieved after 1989 thanks to crucial financial contributions by the state authorities or other sources, including the Phare Programme of the European Union. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Milotice Castle

Milotice castle is one amazing medieval manor house, which in the 16th century was converted into a magnificent baroque palace. Milotice is another beautiful monument in the Republic of Czech. It is located in the Czech region of Hodonin. Milotice has the status, Chateau. Until today the original architecture of the castle has not been preserved, hence having acquired the 18th century style. The original Milotice was built on the local uneven land in the 14th century. Total reconstruction in the 16th century made it a model in the spirit of the Renaissance tradition. Milotice castle was restored during the 17th century, but the last significant change in the 18th century made it what visitors see today. Today Milotice is open for public visits and you can learn a lot about the last family that lived in the castle - Seilern-Aspang. Ladislav Seilern was the last owner of the mansion, but since 1941 it held German citizenship, the castle Milotice was withdrawn in favor of the state and his family was forced to leave the palace. The earliest baroque ornaments of Milotice appeared in 1680, but the original plan of Renaissance palace with four floors, two wings and towers of the four corners of the structure was preserved. Between 1720 and 1750 the most significant improvements to the castle took place. The then owner, Karl Anton Sérenyi wished the castle to become more opulent and ornamented to appear beautiful facade pediments, additional sculptural ornaments and mythological deities on the architecture of the entrance. He also built stables, spas, and also organized a riding school in the castle of Milotice. Ceremonial entrance to Milotice can be reached by a beautiful stone bridge decorated with stone sculptures that were made by Jacob K. Schletterer in 1740. In interior terms Milotice has not much to boast off. The beautiful decorations and mortars at the premises were made between the 1723-1725 years by the Italian, Giovanni M.Fontana. As in the Vranov Castle, Milotice central hall is the hall of ancestors, where you can see a huge mural depicting the House of Sérenyi. Milotice castle is surrounded by a beautiful baroque garden. Today it regularly holds various cultural events including concerts and folklore. Quite often the castle Milotice is the host of weddings.

Frýdlant Castle

sometimes cited also as Frýdlant v Čechách is a town in the Liberec District of the Liberec Region in the Czech Republic. It has approximately 7,500 inhabitants and lies in the historic Bohemia region on the outskirts of the Jizera Mountains.
The area once belonged to the Lordship of Zawidów (Seidenberg) in Upper Lusatia, held by the Bishops of Meissen. The town was first mentioned in 1278, when the Bieberstein noble family was enfeoffed with Friedland-Seidenberg by King Ottokar II of Bohemia and took their residence at Frýdlant Castle. Upon the extinction of the line in 1551, the lordship fell to the House of Redern.Meanwhile the Kingdom of Bohemia had become a part of the Habsburg Monarchy. Christoph von Redern opposed Emperor Ferdinand II during the Counter-Reformation and after the Defenestration of Prague was among the uprising Bohemian Protestant estates, who were defeated at the 1620 Battle of White Mountain. Redern saved his life, but his lands were seized by the Emperor and given in reward to his General Albrecht von Wallenstein, who titled himself "Duke of Friedland" and took his residence at Jičín. The nominal sovereignty of Friedland-Seidenberg was also revoked at this time. Until 1918, FRIEDLAND in BÖHMEN was part of the Austrian monarchy (Austria side after the compromise of 1867), head of the district with the same name, one of the 94 Bezirkshauptmannschaften in Bohemia. In 1875, a railway line Liberec - Frýdlant - Zawidów was put into operation. Lines to Mirsk (Friedberg) and the Frýdlant–Heřmanice Railway to Zittau followed soon. The new town hall was erected in 1893 according to plans by the Viennese architect Franz Neumann. In 1938, it was occupied by the Nazi army as one of the municipalities in Sudetenland. The German-speaking population was expelled in 1945 (see the Beneš decrees) and replaced by Czech settlers.
In the 13th century the castle was held by the Ronovci House. It was first mentioned in 1278, when the Bohemian king Přemysl Otakar II removed the lordship from the Ronovci and gave it to Rulek of Bieberstein. The nowadays building consists of a Gothic castle with a high tower and a Renaissance chateau. The castle had a museum as early as 1801 and today is one of the most visited in the Czech Republic. 

Rožmberk Castle

Rožmberk is a castle situated in South Bohemia near Rožmberk nad Vltavou in the Czech Republic. Considered as one of the oldest castles in Bohemia, it stands on a promotory carved out on three sides by the river Vltava. It was first mentioned in 1253 in a document signed by Vok "von Rosenberg". It is regarded as the cradle of the House of Rožmberk, also known as the "Lords of the Rose", a historical Czech aristocratic family. 
The Rožmberk castle was founded in the first half of the 13th century either by Vítek the Younger of Prčice, or by his son Vok of Prčice, a member of the powerful Vítkovci family (Witikonides in Latin; Witigonen in German) who later styled himself Vok of Rožmberk (Vok de Rosenberch) after this castle. The original castle, known as Horní hrad (Upper Castle), consisted of a high tower known as the Jakobínka (9,6 m diameter) with corbelled raparts and a palace. The structure was completely surrounded by castle walls with a moat. Within a short time, a tributary town grew in the barbican. The castle became the administrative and economic centre of the family's lands, a part of which Vok gave to the newly established Cistercian monastery in Vyšší Brod. In 1302, when the cadet Krumlov branch of the Vítkovci died out, Vok's offspring inherited Český Krumlov and they settled there permanently. After 1330 Jindřich of Rožmberk built the Dolní hrad (Lower Castle), which was defended by ramparts placed above the moat, which was cut through the neck of the rock. In 1420 Oldřich II of Rožmberk (1403–1462), father of Perchta of Rožmberk, the White Lady, was forced to pawn the castle to the Lords of Walsee from Austria to get money to finance the army he was fielding against the Hussites. The loan was paid off, but in 1465 the castle was pawned again to the Lobkovic family. This loan too was paid off. The Starý (Horní) hrad (Old or Upper castle) burned down in 1522 and was never rebuilt. In 1600 Petr Vok of Rožmberk bequeathed the castle and its estates to his nephew Johann Zrinski of Seryn (1565–1612), son to Nikola Šubić Zrinski. Zrinski rebuilt the Lower castle in Renaissance style. When he died in 1612, the estates were inherited by the Švamberks, relatives of the Rožmberks. But they soon lost the castle because all their estates were confiscated after the Battle of White Mountain by Emperor Ferdinand II, who gifted it to the commander of the Imperial army, Charles Bonaventure de Longueval, Count of Bucquoy, who played an important role in the suppression of the rebellion of the Czech Estates. The Buquoys, whose main residence was in Nové Hrady, repaired and altered their family seat (1840–57), remodelling the building in the style of Romantic Neo-Gothic, and keeping it until 1945 when it was nationalised after the end of World War II.
The castle was opened to the public in the middle of the 19th century as one of the first museums in Bohemia. The Rožmberk tradition is represented by the Renaissance sgraffito decoration of the outside facades and beautiful painted decorations of the interiors. The Gothic fortress was changed during the Renaissance era and then in the 19th century within the "Tudor Gothic Passion" period. The last owners of the castle, the Buqouy family (who were Czech nobles of French origin), transformed it into a museum open to the public, one of the first museums in the Bohemian land. The main palace, with its architectural features of several historic styles, shelters a unique collection of Baroque furniture and paintings as well as a wonderful Renaissance Hall with a famous "musical niche" in the so-called Knight's Hall. The message "Loves disappear, colours fade" was discovered in 2004 carved on a wall in the Knight's Hall. This was done by Spanish soldiers in the 17th century. The interiors, mostly renovated in the Neo-Gothic style, are furnished with valuable pieces of furniture, some of which feature custom wood carvings commissioned for the museum. Neither the style nor the furniture of the castle have been changed since its reconstruction in the Romantic style was completed. The castle picture gallery contains several valuable Czech and European paintings from artists of the Late Renaissance and Baroque eras, such as Bartholomeus Spranger, Karel Škréta, Jan Kupecký, and Norbert Grund. Among them the painting of Perchta, "the White Lady" of Rožmberk, one of the most famous ghosts in Bohemia. She has supposedly appeared several times during the centuries since her death. A local legend has it that if one understands what is written in secret signs on the picture, this one would free her and find a silver treasure. The armoury contains a unique collection of stabbing and cutting weapons, firearms, war relics, and heraldic emblems. The picture gallery is full of remarkable paintings dating as far back as the Renaissance era. The bronze elephant sculpture in the courtyard is a copy made in 2003. The original elephant from 1916 was stolen by Nazis and was lost for 50 years standing here in the yard. The owners found it and it was given back to them to make amends for the Holocaust. Now the elephant is back home in Switzerland and the copy is here to delight visitors, who gently touch it.