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italians in south moravia

Dietrichstein Palace brno The Palace situated in the upper part of Vegetable Market (Zelný trh) is named after Cardinal František Prince of Dietrichstein for whom it was designed by the Italian architect Giovanni Giacomo Tencalla in 1614–1620 on the site of five medieval houses of burghers. Originally an early Baroque building it was redesigned in the first half of the 17th century by Domenico Martinelli; only the bearing walls and some of the vaulting were preserved. Worthy of attention is particularly Martinelli’s entrance portal and the vestibule. In the course of time Dietrichstein Palace went through numerous changes which culminated in the first third of the 20th century when an additional storey was built. However it was removed during later conservation reconstruction and the Baroque appearance of the exterior of the building was restored as faithfully as possible. Today the building is the seat of the Moravian Land Museum.

Opening hours: all the year round; closed on Mo and Su Zelný trh 8, 659 37 Brno Italian influence on Moravia has been seen since the 9th century. At first it was associated with Christianisation of the Slavonic population; however with the development of commercial relations and trade routes the influence was rather cultural and political. People used to travel to the Apennine peninsula to gain professional knowledge and skill and in the opposite direction experts from Italy came to our country. An important event was the reform of the Czech currency to groschen; in 1300 Czech King Václav II. entrusted the financiers of Florence to carry out this commission. From the mid-14th century the principles of early humanism began to develop; among the fervent supporters of this line of thought was the Margrave of Brno, Jošt. We have evidence of the spreading of Italian culture, among others, also in musical documents preserved in the archives of Kroměříž, Olomouc and Brno. However the actual boom broke out in the 16th century when a number of Italian architects, sculptors and stonecutters began to arrive leaving their mark in Moravia. To the present day we admire their Renaissance and early Baroque monuments.

Domenico Martinelli (*1650 Lucca, Tuscany – † 1718 ibidem) Italian Baroque priest and architect worked not only in his homeland, but also in Moravia, Bohemia and the Netherlands. Many of his buildings can be seen in the towns Rousínov, Letonice, Uherský Brod and Bzenec. He built the castles in Slavkov, Valtice and Milotice; one of his most important buildings is indisputably the palace of the Liechtenstein family in Vienna.


Bishop’s Courtyard Brno

The Parnassus Fountain Brno

In the immediate neighbourhood of Dietrichstein Palace, below the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul, is Bishop’s Courtyard, once the residence of the probost of the Brno Chapter which the Bishop of Olomouc purchased in 1588 and commissioned extensive remodelling in Renaissance style in which Antonio Gabri took part. Just like his elder brother Pietro he was an architect and master stonemason. He settled in Brno as a journeyman, here he purchased his first house and with his wife Mary he brought up 4 children. Ten years later he obtained freedom of the town and was hired as master of the guild of stonemasons. Gabri took part in the rebuilding of the tower of the Old Town Hall; after his brother’s death he put the finishing touches to the provincial court of law, the Jesuit College and the Augustinian monastery. He renovated a number of houses in Brno which he then sold. He also elevated the tower of St. James Church by “a few fathoms”. His most important building in Brno is Schwanz House (today the House of the Lords of Lipé).

Among the stalls of greengrocers who, as tradition has it, occupy the square on workdays, the Baroque Parnassus Fountain, from which a craggy rock is growing, stands out. Towering at the top is a statue of Europe on a vanquished dragon holding a sceptre; around her are three other allegoric figures of Greece, Persia and Babylonia, a winged lion, bear and other small animals and tiny dragons. This unique example of Baroque naturalism and illusionism was built to the design of Jan Bernard Fischer of Erlach, the author of the grotto is Adam Tobiáš Kracker from Vienna who, together with Anton Riga and some Italian sculptors whose names are unknown, is also the author of some of the sculptural decorations.

Opening hours: all the year round, closed on Mo and Su Muzejní 1, 602 00 Brno Giovanni Giacomo Tencalla Italian architect who worked in Moravia until 1638. Apart from remodelling the Dietrichstein Palace in Brno he is the author of a number of other important buildings such as the Loretto Chapel in Mikulov, Lednice Castle, church and castle in Valtice and the Pauline cloister in Vranov near Brno. His brother, the stucco worker Giovanni Tencalla, teamed up with him for instance to decorate the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady in Valtice.


Opening hours: freely accessible Vegetable Market (Zelný trh), Brno Jan Kapistrán (* 1385 Naples area, Italy – 1456 Ilok, Croatia of today) The pulpit on the outer northern side of the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul is a reminder of the activities of the Franciscan monk. Originally governor of Perugia, on the death of the king of Naples he was removed from power and imprisoned; after his release he joined the order and began his missionary journeys. With his impressive sermons he was extremely successful in Italy, Germany, Poland, Hungary, and in the Czech Lands. In Moravia he was instrumental in establishing the Franciscan order of barefooted monks. However his particular task was to convert the Hussites back to Catholicism. He allegedly managed to convert some 16 thousand brothers.


Canell’s House Brno

Old Town Hall Brno

In the charming alleyway which descends down to what is called the Malý Špalíček (the “Little Block”) in which Andrea Erna, father of architect Jan Křtitel, participated, we see a well-preserved portal from 1596. The author is the then owner of the house, master stonemason Francesco Canevale. We can still make out his coat of arms on the front of the house. He obtained the building by marriage with a widow of another famous Italian stonemason Antonio Silva who came from Morbia Inferiore in the Swiss canton of Ticino. Today the visitors of the Royal Ricc hotel can admire this historical building in which the hotel is seated.

The oldest secular building in Brno is associated with the names of several Italian master builders. The part of the building with the tower was built as early as the 13th century; two centuries later master Antonín Pilgram created the typical portal with the crooked pinnacle. Extensive reconstruction was carried out in the 16th century, much by Antonio and Pietro Gabri. Pietro elevated the tower by almost four meters and around it a gallery and dome with steeples. The two brothers also built the charming arcade courtyard gallery, the portal into the town treasury, the Renaissance stairway leading to the tower and the adjoining building of the court of law. The Italian stonecutter Antonio Silva restored the original Pilgram’s portal and designed the corbels, balusters and pillars on the tower. The coloured stained-glass dates from 1893 and was created to the templates with Italian patterns of book paintings; Italian themes and ancient allegories based on Roman law can also be seen on the wall paintings (1790) in the Renaissance courtroom. The building was damaged during the siege of the Swedish army and builder Jan Křtitel Erna was commissioned to repair the building. Based on a legend the dragon of Brno – the “dragon” suspended in the passage of the Old Town Hall, is connected with merchants of Venice who were said to have brought the skin of a crocodile, at that time an unknown animal. Opening hours: the outside is freely accessible, interiors and tower IV–X Radnická 8 602 00 Brno

Starobrněnská 10 602 00 Brno Francesco Canevale (* ? – † 1606 Brno) He came from north Italy to Brno in 1580. In the period from 1597 to 1600 he ran his own stonecutting works and died in Brno. He derived his name from the Italian word canelle – cinnamon tree which he depicted in his coat of arms. He took part in the reconstruction of the Old and New Town Hall and Schwanz House.


Antonio and Pietro Gabri (* ? Lombardy – † 1593 Brno; * ? Lombardy – † 1585, Brno) The brothers probably come from Lombardy and among their Italian, German and Swiss colleagues with whom they came to Moravia in the late 16 th century they were indeed striking figures. The place where they learned the art of building is unknown; however the style of their work points to a north-Italian school of architecture. To Brno they brought with them the fresh spirit of the Renaissance. They both settled in Brno permanently and both died here.


New Town Hall Brno

Schwanz’s House Brno

Once the centre of land administration where the Moravian estates met and courts held sessions it took over from its “Old” colleague in 1935 and since then has been called the New Town Hall. The complex of buildings consists of part of the medieval Dominican monastery with a Gothic cloister. The impressive Renaissance staircase and the assembly halls were made by the Gabri brothers in 1582 to 1583 at the request of the Moravian aristocracy. In the same period Giorgio Gialdi created the sculptural decorations. In the 18th century Ercole Gaetano Fanti the Austrian painter of Italian origin added to the attractiveness of the prestige rooms; apart from other works he is also the author of the copy of Rubens’s painting of the Assumption of Our Lady above the altar in the church in Valtice. Moritz Grimm is the author of the later reconstruction in Baroque style. Today the building is the seat of the municipal administrative bodies – the Lord Mayor and the Brno Municipal Council; also the local authorities and council meet here. The Church of St. Michael adjoins the New Town Hall which was reconstructed in the 17th century in Baroque style to the design of Jan Křtitel Erna.

The owner of the present House of the Lords of Lipé Kryštof Schwanz the wine merchant had the building remodelled in Renaissance style. The renowned architect Antonio Gabri was responsible for the modifications which were carried out in 1589 to 1596 and Giorgio Gialdi, another Italian artist, for the sculptural decorations in mannerism style. To the present day we admire scenes on ancient, biblical and working themes on the frontage. One of the later prominent owners of the house was the commander of the defenders of Brno against the Swedish army Luis Raduit de Souches. At the end of WW2 the building was heavily damaged and in the following 50 years dilapidated. It was completely restored in 2005. Today the House of the Lords of Lipé houses a shopping mall with many small shops and coffee bars attracting visitors to lounge in the roofed courtyard.

Opening hours: freely accessible Dům pánů z Lipé náměstí Svobody 15 602 00 Brno

Opening hours: the outside is freely accessible, interiors on special occasions Dominikánské náměstí 1 602 00 Brno /index.php?nav01=2222&nav02=6&obrazek=57 The grosch (“penny”) reform In 1300 King Václav II decided to entrust three bankers from Florence to carry out a currency reform. “The King sent to Florence for conscientious experts, that is to say Reinhard, Alfardo and Cynon of Lombardy, who were so experienced in such matters that with benefit they were able to operate such an important task. And so in the year of Our Lord 1300 in the month of July the coins of the Prague groschen and small coins counting twelve to the grosch were introduced, and each coin was marked with the name of Václav who launched them“, can be read in the Zbraslav Chronicle from the early 14th century. For their well done work the masters of the mint Rinieri, Appard and Cino acquired considerable property in Brno. Appard became Lord of the castle in Černá Hora.


Giorgio Gialdi (* ? – † before 1622) Italian sculptor working in Moravia from 1582. He created the sculptures on the portal of the Chapel of St. Stanislav of the Cathedral in Olomouc. In Brno he is said to be the author of the now nonexistent fountain with statues of the Four Elements, decorations of Schwanz’s House and the Wedding (formerly Knight’s) Hall of the New Town Hall. He also remodelled the northern bastion of the castle in Mikulov into a prestige hall.


The Noblewomen’s Institute

Church of St. Thomas and Governor’s Palace Brno

Jan Křtitel Erna was commissioned to build an educational institute for girls of noble families with funds from the legacy of Countess Johanna Františka Priski Magnis. Between 1674 and 1679 he built a two-storey Baroque palace in the centre of the town with a bay turret. A century later an additional storey was built by V. J. Eitelberger and connected with the neighbouring Althan Palace which was damaged during WW2 to such an extent that it had to be pulled down. However the Noblewomen’s Institute was salvaged and was restored to its original shape to the design of Professor Bohuslav Fuchs. In the interior you can see the chapel with late-Baroque frescoes and you can visit exhibitions which are staged by the Ethnographic Institute of the Moravian Land Museum. The building has been declared a historic landmark.

The former Augustinian monastery was founded by Moravian margrave Jan Jindřich of the Luxembourg family in 1350. Damaged during the Thirty-Year’s War a new Baroque triple-nave church was built between 1665 and 1675 to the design of Jan Křtitel Erna, architect of Italian origin. Of the original furnishings the stone Pieta from around 1385 has been preserved, probably by Jindřich Parléř. The founder of the monastery and his son the Margrave Jošt are both buried in the church; their statues adorn the neighbouring Governor’s Palace, the former prelature. The author of the sculptures is Josef Leonard Weber; in the 18th century Moritz Grimm reconstructed the monastery and prelature. At present the building houses collections of the Moravian Gallery.


Church of St. Thomas Opening hours: all the year round Moravské náměstí 1, 602 00 Brno Governor’s Palace Opening hours: all the year round, closed on Mo and Tu Moravské náměstí 1, 602 00 Brno mistodrzitelsky-palac

Opening hours: all the year round, closed on Mo and Su Kobližná 1 659 37 Brno Jan Křtitel Erna (* cca1625 Brno – † 1698 ibidem) His father Andrea Erna came to Brno from the Milan region in the early 17 th century, settled here as burgher and master of the mason’s and stonecutter’s guild. After his death the commissions were taken over by his son who was an architect, author, builder, enterpriser and master bricklayer all in one person. Inspired by the early Baroque of Vienna and by Italian temple patterns he created many important works; the most noticeable ones in Brno are the portals of the Church of St. Thomas and the Jesuit College, and the Noblewomen’s Institute. He also took part in the remodelling of the Old Town Hall. We should not forget his activities outside Brno, castles and church buildings in Tuřany, Valtice, Lednice and Jaroměřice.


“Moravian” Jošt of the Luxembourg family (* 1351 Brno – † 1411 ibidem) Nephew of Charles IV, Moravian Margrave, elector of Brandenburg, the general vicar of the Roman Empire in Italy, was elected Roman king in 1410, but just before the coronation he died. He played an important role in the architecture and cultural development of Brno, he was in touch with the early Italian humanists; among others part of his correspondence with Coluccio Saluttati, Chancellor of Florence, has been preserved. Italian art in collections of the Moravian Gallery An integral part of the permanent exhibition “Art from Gothic to the 19th century – The Gaze of Medusa” is a separate hall devoted to Italian paintings called L’Italia Magnifica – Italian Art of the 14th to 18th centuries. Among the exhibits is a large panel with St. Francis and St. Sebastian from the 15th century by Bernard Zangelli, painting of the Dead Christ Mourned Over by Angels ascribed to Paris Bordone, painter from Venice (16th century), and paintings of Antonello da Saliba, Paolo Pagani, Bernard Strozzi and Artemisia da Gentileschi.


Spilberk Castle Brno

The Church of the AssumPtion of the Virgin Mary Brno-Zábrdovice In 1209 near the river Svitava Lev of Klobouky founded a Premonstratensian monastery. In the course of centuries it suffered a number of fires and destruction was completed during the Swedish siege of Brno in the 17th century. Remains of the old monastery church were pulled down and in 1661 construction of a new Baroque church began. It was apparently one of the first designs of the prominent architect Giovanni Pietro Tencalla in Moravia. Builder Pavel Weinberger implemented the design and the church was completed within a mere 10 years. Under the rule of Joseph II the monastery was dissolved on the basis of the Josephinian reform and converted into a military hospital; up to the present time it is the Military Hospital Brno. The church is administered by the Roman Catholic Church and serves its original purpose. The vicarage is seated in the building of the former castle; above the entrance we still see the coat of arms of Lord Lev the founder of the monastery – a unicorn and a hat.

Probably the most distinctive dominant of Brno is Spilberk Castle founded in the mid-13th century on a small, but steep hillock above the historical centre of the town. The history of this pleasing place, a much-favoured destination of romantic and family outings to exhibitions, concerts or theatres with a wonderful vista, is very dark. The connection between Spilberk Castle and the history of Italy belongs to the unhappy moments. Originally the Castle was the seat of the rulers of Moravia, but later on its military importance came to the fore and before the mid-18th century it had become the most massive and most important Baroque fortress in Moravia. Nicolaus Peroni, a military engineer and builder of fortresses of Italian origin, took part in the reconstruction. In 1783 by decision of Emperor Joseph II the fortress prison acquired a civil status and was to be used for the worst criminals; soon afterwards political prisoners were gradually jailed here. In the first half of the 19th century the cells intended for “state prisoners” newly built in the north wing of the fortress were occupied by Italian Carbonari who sought the creation of a unified, liberal and independent Italy. Among them was the poet Silvio Pellico, music composer Pietro Maroncelli and journalist Federico Confalonieri. At the entrance to the casemates is a plaque with the names of all the imprisoned Carbonari and members of the Young Italy movement and at the foot of the Spilberk hill is a memorial of the Italian martyrs. Opening hours: casemates I–VI, IX–XII closed on Mu, VII–VIII daily Špilberk 1, 662 24 Brno

Opening hours: all the year round Lazaretní ulice 615 00 Brno-Zábrdovice

Nicolaus Peroni (Pieroni) (* ? – † 1745 Brno) Of Italian origin he came from a family of builders of fortresses. He was land engineer in the rank of colonel and he saw to the construction of the Baroque fortification of Brno and Spilberk in the first half of the 18th century. One century earlier his ancestor Giovanni Battista Pieroni had taken part in the innovation of the fortification.

Giovanni Pietro Tencalla (* 1629 Bissone, Ticino Canton, Switzerland of today – † 1702 ibidem) The Italian-Swiss architect is author of a number of important secular and church buildings. In our country the most important are the Hradisko monastery, Church of St. Michael and the Archbishop’s Palace in Olomouc, Basilica of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Svatý Kopeček, and participation in building the castles in Kroměříž, Vyškov and Valtice.

Silvio Pellico (* 1789 Saluzzo, Italy – † 1854 Turin, Italy) Poet, playwright, prose writer and journalist wrote down his involuntary stay in Spilberk in his book “Le mie Prigioni” (My Prison). He was condemned for high treason and was released after 8 years in jail. The street in Brno below the hill on which this former prison towers is named after him. Pietro Maroncelli (* 1796 Forli, Italy – † 1846 New York, USA) Master of music and beaux arts he was a member of the Carbonari movement. He arrived at Spilberk at the age of 26 years as a convict sentenced to death for high treason; later his death sentence was commuted to 20 years of penal servitude. In Spilberk jail he lost his leg and eventually after 10 years he was granted a pardon. He is the author of the text on the memorial of Italian martyrs at Spilberk. “Sons of Italy condemned by Austrian undercover committees outside the law on Italian soil to death as Carbonari”.



The Church of the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary Brno-Tuřany

Tunnels in the Svitava River valley

Tuřany is one of the oldest places of pilgrimage to the Virgin Mary in Moravia. Legend has it that here the people hid a statue of the Mother of God which the apostles Cyril and Metodus had brought to Velehrad. In 1050 when Horák, a farmer from Chrlice, was on his way home from the fields he beheld a blaze of light coming out of a thorny rose bush. Inside he discovered a statue of the Virgin Mary with the child Christ. Processions of pilgrims headed to the place of the finding and so the original Romanesque church had to be restored. Between 1693 and 1698 Jan Křtitel Erna built an early Baroque Chapel of St. Anna to the north of it which served the Jesuits. The church got its present appearance in the 19th century when the monumental frontage and two tall belfries were added after the chapel was extended.

In 1843 to 1849 on the north-east margin of Brno a system of railway tunnels emerged which was built to improve railway connections to the Moravian Carst. The construction of 11 tunnels and 60 bridges of a total length of 1994 meters was planned for the line between Brno and Česká Třebová. The Italian entrepreneur Felice Tallachini was granted the commission for the stretch from Brno to Blansko on the basis of a public tender. The construction involved 3000 workers and 200 Italian experts were in charge of the tunnelling working non-stop day and night. Every day they moved ahead 20 centimetres. The tunnels had empire portals made of white blocks, the massive cornice in the upper part was supported by an ancon and above it a smooth wall towered which was pointed in the middle and evoked the impression of a small roof. In the 1950’s the tunnels were gradually widened and their appearance perished, some were even closed. The last to be dismantled was the Obřany tunnel; regrettably the original intention to build the portal in a suitable place was called off. The only preserved tunnel is the Novohradský tunnel where the smart work of our ancestors can be seen to the present day.

Opening hours: all the year round Hanácká ulice 620 00 Brno Egbert Belcredi (* 1816 Jimramov – † 1894 Brno) The owner of the Líšeň estates and descendant of the Belcredi family, who came from Lombardy in Italy, was an enlightened aristocrat and patriot. He is regarded to be the most important Moravian politician of his times. He was a supporter of a legal state programme of the Czech nation and he supported Moravian interests. He became chairman of the Matice moravská (Moravian Foundation) and Katolicko-politická jednota (Catholic-Political Association) in Brno, the Moravská orlice (Moravian Eagle) and he played an important role in the building of the Besední dům (Assembly House). One street in Líšeň bears his name and also the castle which the family was given back under the terms of restitution.


Opening hours: freely accessible monument Jan Petr Cerroni (* 1753 Uherské Hradiště – † 1826 Brno) His father was a wealthy Italian businessman from Lombardy who came to live in Uherské Hradiště. Jan Petr studied philosophy and law and became the Moravian-Silesian guberniyal secretary. His interest in history and experience in administration of confiscated property encouraged him to attempt to preserve various documents which gave rise to a collection of rare material which is now the source of valuable information for researchers. Part of the collection is kept in the Moravian Land Archive and in the Archives of the City of Brno.



Castle Moravský Krumlov

The Castle in late Renaissance style dominates the skyline of the town Rosice lying 20 km west of Brno and towers on the hill above the confluence of the Bobrava River and Říčanský Brook. A four-wing building it stands around an Italian-style inner courtyard, remarkable for its preserved vaults, paintings and arcade passage with embossments after Italian models from the Renaissance era, and Baroque cabinets with stucco decorations. The castle was most probably built by the Italian architect Leonard Garo de Bisono and debts that were discovered for work in Rosice also point to the stonecutter Francesco Canevale. The sculptural decorations are preserved only in part and are usually ascribed to the group of the Italian master Giorgio Gialdi.

In the 16th century the original Gothic castle was rebuilt in Renaissance style; the gem of the castle is the courtyard with arcades based on Genoese palace architecture. The then owners of the castle, the Lords of Lipé, chose the Italian architect Leonard Gara de Bisono as the head designer. Major changes were carried out only 200 years later when the Liechtenstein family ordered remodelling in Baroque style, building an English-style garden, chapel and Classicist family vault. The castle today is private property and only the Knight’s Hall is open; here the monumental cycle of paintings based on the history of the Czech nation called the Slavonic Epopee created by Alfons Mucha between 1910 and 1928 is installed.

Opening hours: IV and X on weekends, V–IX closed on Mo Žerotínovo náměstí 665 01 Rosice

Opening hours: IV–X, closed on Mo Klášterní nám. 125 672 11 Moravský Krumlov

Francis of Paolo (* 1416 Paolo, Italy – † 1507 Plessis-lès-Tours, France) Italian hermit and founder of the monastic order of the Lesser Pauline Brothers who in 1992 returned to the monastery in Vranov near Brno after a period of 200 years. The early Baroque parish church of the Nativity of Our Lady from the first third of the 17th century is a unique landmark. Andrea Erna built it to the design of Giovanni Maria Filippi.

Leonard Garo de Bisono (* 1528 Bisono, Bissone, Switzerland of today – † 1574 Moravský Krumlov) He came from a family of architects from a village near the Lugano Lake in what was then Italy. In the 1950’s a tombstone with his sculpted portrait was discovered in the parish Church of All Saints in Moravský Krumlov. Other members of his family also worked in Moravia, for instance Francesco Garo in Dačice.



Castle Ivančice

Church of the Name of Our Lady


Not only Brno has its House of the Lords of Lipé – the Town Hall in Ivančice bears the same name and is decorated with the coats of arms of this noble family. The Italian architect Antonio di Valdi together with Italian stonecutters remodelled the originally Gothic stronghold into a Renaissance town palace for his friend, rope-maker and real estate agent, Simon Pírek. The square-based building resembles a typical Italian mansion and prides itself on the lavishly decorated portal by Gialdi. At the present time the building is the seat of the municipal offices.

Křtiny is usually called the entrance gate to the Moravian Karst; from of old it has been an important place of pilgrimage to Our Lady. Originally there were two medieval churches there but in the early18thcentury they were found inadequate to accommodate the increasing numbers of pilgrims. In 1718 the Abbot of the monastery in Zábrdovice commissioned Jan Blažej Santini Aichel to completely rebuild the estate. He was successful in accomplishing the demands of the Premonstratensians for a spacious church sensitively integrated into the surrounding landscape and he built a new Baroque church; the ground plan is a Greek cross in a concentric circle where the passage of light through the space plays an important role. Although the design had to be changed due to shortage of funds and remained partly unfinished, this Baroque gem is Santini’s masterpiece.

Opening hours: during office hours Palackého náměstí 6 664 91 Ivančice Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Řeznovice In the Ivančice town district Řeznovice we find a monument of European importance, a Romanesque style chapel built around 1160 by the Přemyslide Conrad Otto. In its character it corresponds to the style of buildings in Lombardy in north Italy from the same period. In terms of its architecture it comes closest to the chapel in Regensburg in Bavaria in Germany.


Opening hours: all the year round 679 05 Křtiny Jan Blažej Santini Aichel (* 1677 Prague – † 1723 ditto) He was born as a member of the third generation of Italian stonecutters and masons naturalised in Prague. He was slight in build and physically handicapped due to which he did not continue in the family tradition but he learned to paint; the more imperfect his physique, the more unique his spiritual contribution to architecture. He was to become the father of the Baroque-Gothic style and his workshop produced genuine gems of architecture: the pilgrimage church on the Zelená hora Hill in Žďár nad Sázavou entered on the UNESCO list, the monastery convent in Plasy, monastic churches in Kladruby, Želiva, Sedlec near Kutná Hora, the Karlova Koruna Castle and a number of others.


Church of the Visitation OF THE Blessed Virgin Mary

Provost’s Church of St. Peter and St. Paul


Lomnice u Tišnova

The history of this church is linked with efforts to promote the Rajhrad provostry to an abbacy. Jan Blažej Santini Aichel was commissioned to work out the design at the time when it appeared that chances were good. The building progressed relatively quickly even though the foundations of the monumental church had to be mounted on wooden piles and grid because of the bad subsoil. However Santini did not live to see the finished building, he died a mere year after construction work had begun. Today the monastery houses the Museum of Literature in Moravia.

In the late 17th century, when the Lomnice domain passed into the hands of the new owner, František Count Serenyi, he decided to build a new church in Baroque style instead of the existing medieval one. The Italian architect Giovanni Pietro Tencalla was commissioned to work out the design and work began in 1669. Pavel Wimberg was recommended as the builder on the basis of references from the church in Zábrdovice. However under his management the work dragged on and in the end he was dismissed and work was taken over by Jan Křtitel Erna who partly modified the original design. The church was completed in 1682 and consecrated one year later.

Opening hours: all the year round, the Museum is closed on Mo Museum of Literature in Moravia Klášter 1 664 61 Rajhrad

Opening hours: occasionally nám. Palackého 73 679 23 Lomnice

Antonín Aichel The grandfather of renowned Jan Blažej came from the small town of Roveredo which lies on the banks of Lake Lugano. At that time the name of his native town was Aichel and in Bohemia Antonín added it to his name. In 1635 at his wedding in Prague, architects Carlo Lurago and Santini de Bossi were his witnesses. Later they were godfathers to his son Santini Aichel, father of Jan Blažej.

The Moravian Miramare Industrialist Richard Ježek was fascinated by the charm of the Italian castle Miramare on the coast of the Adriatic Sea near Trieste to that extent that in Blansko he had the administration building and factory water tank built in the same style. The Windsor-style building was built to the design of Jaromír Roučka. The monument is located on Svitavská Street and is not open to the public.



Synagogue maior Boskovice

Castle Vyškov

The Grand Synagogue was built by the Italian architect Sylvester Fiota who designed it at the request of the local Jewish community. By the end of the century it was deemed too small; it was extended, rebuilt to become a model for Baroque synagogues in Bohemia and Moravia. A few years ago the dilapidating building underwent needful reconstruction and since 2002 has been open to the public. It houses the exhibition “The Jewish Town in Boskovice”. Across the road in the cellar of the house By the Temple 3/5 is a preserved ritual bath, the mikve.

Today’s appearance of the originally Gothic castle dates back to the 17th century to the time of Bishop Charles II of Liechtenstein-Kastelkorn; it was built to the design of architect Giovanni Pietro Tencalla. First the standing two-storey part was remodelled (1665 to 1675), later another wing was added (1680 to 1862). At the present time the Renaissance castle houses the Museum of the Vyškov Region with temporary exhibitions and eight permanent exhibitions of the archaeological, historical, ethnographic and artistic collections.

Opening hours: IV–X Traplova ulice 680 01 Boskovice

Opening hours: V–X closed on Mo, XI–IV closed on Mo, Sa and Su nám. Čs. armády 2 682 01 Vyškov

Sylvestr Fiota Italian builder from Chiavenna settled in Boskovice in 1598. He married, purchased two houses and became a burgher. Apart from the Grand Synagogue he was involved in Renaissance-style modifications of the Boskovice Castle and the church tower.

Churches in Rousínov Architect Domenico Martinelli left his footprint in nearby Rousínov as well. He is the author of the Church of St. Mary Magdalena which was engineered by Gulio Tini. The Church of St. Wenceslas in Rousínovec was probably also influenced by Martinelli’s style and was built by his fellow worker Peter Giulietti who came from the Milan duchy. Not far off, above the vineyards of Slavkov, towers the chapel of the patron saint of vintners St. Urban. It was pulled down and in 1861 with only small alterations built again to the original design of Martinelli.



Castle Ivanovice na Hané

Church of the Assumption of Our Lady Vyškov The late Gothic church from the mid-15th century is a landmark of the town. The Chapel of St. Otillie was added in 1690 and is lavishly decorated with stuccoes by Italian artist Baltazar Fontana. In the following years the church was destroyed by fire and was not repaired until the 18th century when the western tower was added and the nave was remodelled in Baroque style to the design of architect Giovanni Pietro Tencalla.

The town lies less than 10 km from Vyškov and is proud of its more than thousand-year history. The most important historical buildings – the Baroque Church of St. Andrew and the Castle – are located in the centre of the town. The late Renaissance appearance of the Castle is the result of extensive reconstruction from the time when the owner was the Bukuvky family of Bukuvky who commissioned the Italian builder Antonio Lorenzo Pariz in 1608. The building was extended adding three two-storey wings with arcade galleries and Tuscan columns. Jan Foncun is the author of the stonecutting elements, coats of arms and inscriptions. At present the Castle is awaiting urgent reconstruction and is closed to the public.

Opening hours: all the year round (during church service) Kostelní ulice 682 01 Vyškov Baltazar Fontana (* Chiasso, Switzerland of today – † 1733 ditto) Baroque Italian sculptor and stucco-worker of the Baroque; apart from his homeland he also worked in Moravia and Poland. His works can be seen in the Archbishop’s Castle in Kroměříž, in castles in Uherčice, Vřesovice and Šebetov, in the Velehrad monastery, in the church of St. Michael, Hradisko Monastery, the Archbishop’s Palace in Olomouc and the Svatý Kopeček Basilica.


Wiedermannova ul. 683 23 Ivanovice na Hané Antonio Lorenzo Pariz Italian builder who worked in Brno from 1590 to 1608. He also took part in remodelling the Brno Castle Spilberk after the fire in 1578 and he rebuilt the Castle in Kuřim.


Castle Slavkov u Brna

Castle Bučovice

Transformation of the medieval stronghold into one of the most important Baroque castles in Moravia lasted more than half a century. The reconstruction commenced at the turn of the 17th century to the design of Domenico Martinelli, followed by Ignác Valmaggini, Viennese architect of Italian origin, and was finally completed by builder Václav Petruzzi in 1752. Decorating the inside of the building lasted a further 15 years and was also accomplished by Italian artists – the author of the frescoes is Andrea Lanzani who worked together with stucco-worker Santino Bussi. The Renaissance gardens with a flower parterre and orangery and Lanzani’s frescoes and statues by Giovanni Giuliani were built at the same time as the castle. Their appearance changed over the centuries and was partly recovered to its original Baroque style in the 1970s.

The castle premises in Bučovice stand as a unique example of Italian Renaissance of the entire transalpine region. In contrast to other castles it was not remodelled in Renaissance style but was build as a new building to the design of Jacopo Strada, the imperial architect and keeper of art collections of the Habsburg family. In the arcade courtyard we see 19 columns decorated with 540 relieves bearing motifs of war, coats of arms, chimerical animals and creatures, mascarons and musical instruments. The interior decorations are in Mannerism style and in the courtyard is a splendid fountain in the same style made by Giovanni Giacomo Tencalla. Elia Canavale and Antonio Silva are authors of the stone-cutting work.

Opening hours: VI–VIII daily, IV–V and IX–XI closed on Mo, XII–III as per order Palackého nám. 1 684 01 Slavkov u Brna

Opening hours: IV a X on weekends, V–IX closed on Mo Zámek 1 658 01 Bučovice

Santino Bussi (* 1666 Bissone, today Switzerland – † 1736 Vienna, Austria) Italian stucco-worker who lived and worked primarily in Vienna, he belongs to the representatives of high Baroque. In our country his works can be seen for instance in Slavkov Castle, in Koloděje and in the Clam-Gallas Palace in the Old Town quarter in Prague.

New castles in Nesovice On the way from Brno to Bučovice on the left-hand side you will see a lovely light-coloured building. It is a castle coupling the elements of the Italian manor and the “barco” villa and is made unusual by unique volute roof gables and so-called swallow tails. This almost 500-year-old structure is a private building and is not open to the public.



Castle Buchlovice

Pilgrimage site with Basilica OF THE ASSUMPTION OF OUR LADY and St. Cyril and St. Method Velehrad

Many legends are connected with this gem among Baroque manors of the nobility. One of them claims that Jan Dětřich of Petřvald had the castle built for his wife because she longed for a residence which would remind her of her native Italy in contrast to the cold Buchlov castle. The truth is that Agnes Eleonora of Colonna-Fels had Italian ancestors but she herself came from the Tyrol. In any case in 1699 the model for the building was indeed the Italian “villa rustica”. Opinions as to the identity of the architect differ; even such famous names as Domenico Martinelli or Carlo Fontana have been mentioned. Baltazar Fontana is the author of the stucco decorations. An extensive park is an integral part of the whole complex with two buildings separated by a courtyard, the lower castle serving as the residence and the upper castle intended for farming purposes. The originally Italian garden was later on remodelled in French style and in the end transformed in sentimental style.

Originally a Cistercian monastery it was built at the pilgrimage site, today one of the most important in Morava, as early as the 13th century. At the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries the grounds with the church in Romanesque style influenced by early Gothic were remodelled in Baroque style. Many prominent artists participated in the decorations of the Basilica, one of the largest in the Czech Republic, among others sculptor and stuccoworker Baltazar Fontana, stone-cutter and marble-worker Andrea Allio and painters Paulo Pagani and Ignác Raab. The collection of stone statues “lapidarium” with 500 meters of corridors is also open.

Opening hours: all the year round Stojanovo nádvoří 206 687 06 Velehrad

Opening hours: Castle in IV and X and on weekends and holidays, V–VI and IX closed on Mo, VII–VIII daily; park all the year round 687 08 Buchlovice Chapel of St. Barbara at Modla The style of the Chapel harbouring the family vault of the owners of the castle is late Moravian Mannerism. The building lies about 15 minute on foot from Buchlov and was probably designed by Giovanni Pietro Tencalla or Jan Křtitel Erna. It was completed in 1672.

Uherské Hradiště In Uherské Hradiště we can also find traces of activities of Italian artists and architects. The Church of the Annunciation to the Virgin is decorated with stuccoes from the workshop of Baltazar Fontana who in 1757 rebuilt the Franciscan monastery where the influence of Italian illusionist paintings is evident. The Church of St. Francis Xavier was built between 1670 and 1685 by Jan Jeroným Canevalle to the design of Jan Dominik Orsi. Uherský Brod The author of a number of buildings in this town associated with the name of Jan Amos Komenský is the Italian architect of no lesser fame in his branch, Domenico Martinelli. He modified the lordly residence “Panský dům” (Manor) in Baroque style (1690). The Baroque columnar hall “Baraník” (1690 to 1693) and the Church of the Immaculate Conception (1717 to 1733) were built to his design.



Archbishop’s Palace Kroměříž

Floral Garden Kroměříž

The town is called the Athens of Haná; in 1998 the Castle complex with gardens of great beauty and historical value were entered on UNESCO’s list of cultural heritage. Bishop Karel II. Liechtenstein-Kastelkorn had the early Baroque Archbishop’s Palace built in 1664 - 1695 to the design of architects Filiberto Lucchese and Giovanni Pietro Tencalla. The decorations in the Rose Salon are complemented with paintings of the prominent Italian painter Jacopo Bassan as well as the walls of the Vassal Hall made of imitation marble; the gilt stucco decorations and the fireplace were also made by Italian artists.

The castle architects Filiberto Lucchese and Giovanni Pietro Tencalla created late Renaissance Mannerism gardens behind the fortification walls of the town. Many Italian artists took part in the decorations, among them stucco-workers Quirino Castelli and Carlo Borsa and painter Carpoforo Tencalla. A park developed on the barren and boggy soil; a spectacular 244-meter long colonnade with hundreds of antiquity-inspired statues and busts stretches from the main entrance. The whole area was interwoven with a water system feeding small ponds, lakes, fountains and what was called “water jokes”. A rotunda with Foucault’s pendulum is located in the northern part and two artificial mounds, so-called “Strawberry Hillocks”, dominate the southern part.

Opening hours: IV and X on weekends and as per order, V–IX closed on Mo Sněmovní nám. 1 767 01 Kroměříž

Opening hours: all the year round Generála Svobody 767 01 Kroměříž

Karel II. Liechtenstein-Kastelkorn (* 1623 Kladsko Region – † 1695 Olomouc) The Bishop of Olomouc came from a family originally from South Tyrol in present-time Italy. He also acted as a secular prince and in his electoral chapters he undertook to build and repair. He kept his promise to an unprecedented extent. He is called the second founder of Kroměříž. He takes credit for building the imposing castle and gardens as well as the hospital, granary and sewerage system. In Olomouc he had the Archbishop’s Palace built, and adapted the castles in Mírov, Chropyně and Vyškov.

Patrimonial Granary The bishop’s Baroque granary in Novosady, once a suburb of Kroměříž, was built to the design of G. P. Tencalla after his death in 1714. Builder J. A. Grimm remodelled it to its present appearance in the late 18th century.


Baroque Cemetery in Střílky Behind a massive sandstone wall, less than 30 kilometres south of Kroměříž, lies the cemetery established between 1730 and 1743 on an area of almost 2 000 m2. The author of this monument of European importance was probably the architect of Kroměříž of Italian origin Ignác Josef Cyrani of Bolleshaus.


caSTLE Lednice

Castle and Church

The almost 200-kilometre Lednice-Valtice area was entered on the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage in 1996 and harbours manor houses, hunting lodges, chapels, parks, gardens, rivers, ponds and forests. In the area stands the originally Renaissance Castle in Lednice in the construction of which a number of prominent artists participated - Giovanni Giacomo Tencalla, Francesco Carrati and Andrea Erna and his son Jan Křtitel. The area underwent the first important transformation in the late 17th century when architect Domenico Martinelli together with Jan Bernard Fischer of Erlach remodelled it in Baroque style. Today’s romantic appearance in the style of English Tudor Gothic dates back to the 19th century. The Castle is surrounded by gardens and a spacious Baroque park; the authors of later modifications were Italian architects Fanti and Michelli.

The Castle belongs to the area entered on the UNESCO list and has maintained its appearance from the mid-17th century. Giovanni Giacomo Tencalla designed the new building in Mannerism style, in which his father and son Erna continued. Later the Castle was remodelled in Baroque style to the design of Jan Bernard Fischer of Erlach by architect Domenico Martinelli. G. G. Tencalla also worked on the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady. However because the vault collapsed he had to leave and the building was completed by Andrea Erna. Stonecutter Dominik Morelli and stuccoworkers Bernard Bianchi and Giovanni Tencalla, a relative of architect Giacomo, took part in the decorations of the church; author of the altar painting is Gaetano Fanti.


Castle Opening hours: V–IX closed on Mo, X on weekends Zámek 1 694 01 Valtice Opening hours: IV and X on weekends and as per order, V–IX closed on Mo Zámek 1 691 44 Lednice

Church Opening hours: all the year round during church service (Mo, We, Fr, Su) nám. Svobody 694 01 Valtice

Milotice Castle This Baroque castle located in a village not far from the town Kyjov is called the gem of South-East Moravia. Here again we find footprints of Italian artists. Giovanni Michael Fontana made the stucco ceilings in the antechambers and we can say that Antonio Salla and Domenico Martinelli are potential authors of the building.

Mikulov The main residence of the Liechtenstein family, Mikulov Castle, had been rebuilt many times to its present Baroque appearance. In the 16th century the Italian Gialdi remodelled one of the four Renaissance bastions into a ceremonial hall; a century later Andrea Erna modified the building in Mannerism style and he is apparently also the author of the nearby Church of St. John the Baptist.



Golč’s Palace Znojmo The building of the New Town Hall is a part of the exceptionally well preserved urban conservation area of Renaissance and early Baroque character. The entrance to the Renaissance Palace which was created by joining several houses is through the so-called mázhauz from 1570. The author of the sculpture of Adam and Eve on the main portal is the Italian sculptor Giorgio Gialdi (1606). In the courtyard we can see two-storey Renaissance loggias with Tuscany arcades. The Palace is named after Wallenstein’s general Golč who owned the house. Today it is the seat of the municipal authorities.

Opening hours: all the year round during office hours Obroková 10 669 02 Znojmo Uherčice Castle This spacious Renaissance country seat consists of a manor, farm buildings and kitchen and ornamental gardens. The original building from the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries was soon extended by a settlement with arcades on Tuscany columns. A century later architect Francesco Martinelli modified the castle’s exterior. The splendid stucco decorations from the workshop of Baltazar Fontana to be seen in the chapel, connecting corridor and halls, are remarkable works of art.


Published by : South-Moravian Tourist Authority Texts: S. Sanža Translation: BM BUSINESS CONSULTANTS Photographs: Měst IC Boskovice archives, Czechtourism archives, MMB archives, MZLU ŠLP Křtiny archives, Sdružení České dědictví UNESCO archives, P. Nohel’s archives, TIC Beseda Znojmo archives, M. Bouška, I. Durkajová, J. Frišová, V. Kotulán, J. Kruml, E. Obůrková, P. Přádka, V.Urban. Graphics: L. Němeček Produced by: Propag servis Brno, Advertum Printed by: POINT CZ Published: 2008

Italians in South Moravia  

Italians in South Moravia

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