Brno - Tour of town

Brno is an important urban monument reservation and the second largest city in the Czech Republic. There has been continuous settlement here since the arrival of the Slavs in the 6th century, through the period of the Great Moravian Empire, and to the present day. Since the end of the 13th century the city has been protected by the Špilberk Castle, which over time became the seat of the Moravian Margraves from the Luxembourg family and the Moravian regional capital. As with other cities, Brno has hidden secrets, for example the underground catacombs. For tourists from all over the world the greatest attraction is the Tugendhat Villa, which is the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's most important European work, which was inscribed in the UNESCO List in 2001.

A tour of the city We can begin our tour at the Old Town Hall tower, from where we get a bird’s eye perspective of the atmosphere of a large modern city. We recommend that you visit the Cathedral of St. Petr and St. Pavel, the Baroque Parnassus fountain, the Holy Trinity Plague Column and the Capuchin crypt. Also worth seeing are the Kleinův palác, the Dům pánů z Lipé, the monastery in Old Brno, the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady (kostel Nanebevzetí Panny Marie), the Mitrovský summer house and the churches of St. Jakub and St. Tomáš. You can complete your tour of the city with a visit to the Špilberk Castle and its casemates, or its exhibition on prison life in the 18th and 19th centuries.

In 1929 – 1930 the newly-wed Fritz and Greta Tugendhat built a family house in the Brno residential district of Černá Pole. Both of these young people came from extremely wealthy families, whose property included important wool and textile factories in Brno.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886 – 1969), a German architect of high repute in Europe, who first came to Brno in 1928 and was highly enthusiastic about the position of the parcel of land overlooking the city and its two dominant features, the Špilberk Castle and the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul. One and a half years later the building was completed and in December 1930 the Tugendhat family moved in.

The detached three-storey villa is built on a slope. The first storey - the basement – contains the technical equipment for the house. The second storey consists mainly of the living and social areas with a conservatory and kitchens with facilities and quarters for staff. On the third storey there is the main entrance from the street, with a stairway divided by a semi-circular wall made of milky glass. Here we can find the bedrooms of the parents, the children and the governess, bathroom facilities and an extensive terrace.

The construction of the rendered building consists of a steel frame. The main residential storey is the dominant feature of the house due to its space and materials used. The fully-glazed eastern and southern façades allow the refined entrance of light and a fusion of the interior and the exterior. Two sheets of plate glass, reaching from the floor to the ceiling, can even be fully opened. The subtle load-bearing pillars with a cross-shaped section are plated with high gloss chrome in the living area of the villa. Each functional zone in the residential area is divided by a wall of honey-yellow white-veined onyx which was sourced from the Atlas mountains of Morocco, and a semi-circular wall of macassar ebony.

In the „fluent“ living area the imposing seating area in front of the onyx wall with its view of the garden is the dominant feature. This view is also afforded from the dining room, which is divided by a semi-circular wall of macassar ebony. Behind the onyx wall is a study area with a library and an adjoining conservatory. The air conditioning system: a combination of central heating, ventilation and humidifying, high hygienic standards, electrically-operated windows, photographic dark room by the entrance, etc., were all parts of the technical equipment in the house, which were extraordinary for their period.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed the interior with his colleagues Lilly Reich, Hermann John and Sergius Ruegenberg. The furniture was mainly of tube and flat steel and of fine wood. In front of the onyx wall there once were three „Tugendhat“ armchairs covered with silver-grey material, two „Barcelona“ chairs with emerald-green leather and one chaise longue with ruby-red velvet upholstery. By the circular dining table there were „Brno“ chairs of black pear wood upholstered with fine white leather. By the macassar writing desk there were two wicker „MR 20“ armchairs. The majority of the metal furniture came from Berlin, but the built-in units were the work of Jan Vaňek’s architect’s firm in Brno, Standard Bytová Společnost.

The garden was an integral part of the house, and Mies van der Rohe designed it in conjunction with the Brno architect Greta Roder-Müller. A large part of the gardens consists of a lawn with several individual trees. The façades were overgrown with creepers and the house „melted“ into the green of the garden.

In 1992 the agreement to divide Czechoslovakia was signed in the villa.

The Tugendhat Villa is one of the most important residential houses in the world due to its architectural concept, materials used and technical equipment.