• Lednice - Czech Republic

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    La plus ancienne trace écrite mentionnant Eisgrub remonte à 1222 et fait mention d'une forteresse. Au milieu du XIIIe siècle, elle devient la propriété des princes de Liechtenstein qui la possède jusqu'en 1945. Ceux-ci transforment progressivement Lednice et le village voisin de Valtice en un complexe de châteaux, jardins, folies et parcs unique en Europe avec une surface de 200 km2 (soit une surface plus importante que la seule principauté montagneuse du Liechtenstein).
     
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    La forteresse gothique initiale est remplacée entre 1544 et 1585 par un palais Renaissance entouré de jardins. Le château est reconstruit au XVIIe siècle dans le gout baroque dont nous restent les écuries dans la partie ouest du complexe palatin, œuvre de Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. Entre 1766 et 1772, le palais est reconstruit dans le gout néo-classique en vogue alors pour être encore reconstruit en 1815 dans le style Empire et, pour la dernière fois, entre 1846 et 1858 dans un style néo-gothique historicisant sur les plans de J. Wingelmüller et J. Heidrich. Cette dernière reconstruction a gardé les plans existants, se contentant de changer la modénature des façades et la décoration intérieure. Le château intègre l'église paroissiale dédiée à St Jacques le Majeur.

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    Le Minaret :  Cette construction romantique, haute de 60 mètres, date de 1797–1802 et est construite dans le gout mauresque sur les plans de J. L. Hardtmuth.

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    Le premier guépard de la journée .. en attendant d'en voir un beaucoup plus sauvage ...

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  • Mikulov - Czech Republic

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    Situated southwest of the Pavlovské hills, a town grew below a former castle. The remains of the original fortifications can still be seen on the Canon Tower in Kozí hrádek. The castle was later rebuilt into a luxurious Baroque chateau, which, together with the Renaissance tower of the Church of St. Wenceslas and the Holy Hill with a chapel, creates the characteristic panorama of the town.
     
    Thanks to the location and climate, wine growing and trade flourished here. Mikulov was famous with its religious tolerance, especially towards the protestants and the Jews. In the 17th – the 19th centuries Mikulov was the seat of the rabbinate. The large Jewish ghetto has been partially preserved, along with a synagogue and the Jewish cemetery. Among other sights are the Loretto church, rebuilt in the 19th century into a tomb of the Dietrichstein family.
     
    Recently, Mikulov has become especially popular for its viticulture. A network of biking trails crisscrosses the area, and there are annual wine festivals every autumn.

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    Jewish Mikulov
     
    The beginning of the Jewish settlement in Mikulov dates as far as 1421, when Jews were expelled from Vienna and the neighboring province of Lower Austria by the duke of Austria, Albert II of Germany. Fugitives settled in the town situated close to the Austrian border, some 85 kilometers from the Austrian capital, under the protection of the princes of Liechtenstein, and additional settlers were brought after the expulsions of the Jews from the Moravian royal boroughs by the king Ladislaus the Posthumous after 1454.

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    The settlement grew in importance and in the first half of the 16th century when Mikulov became the seat of the regional rabbi of Moravia, thus becoming a cultural centre of Moravian Jewry. The famous rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel (1525 – 1609), who is said to have created the golem of Prague, officiated here for twenty years as the second regional rabbi between 1553 and 1573.  Cardinal Franz von Dietrichstein, son of Adam von Dietrichstein, was a special protector of the Jews, whose taxes were necessary to finance the Thirty Years' War. 

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    In the first half of the 18th century the congregation in Mikulov totalled over 600 families, being the largest Jewish settlement in Moravia. The census of 1754 decreed by Empress Maria Theresa of Austria ascertained that there were some 620 families established in Mikulov, i.e. the Jewish population of about 3,000 comprised half of the town‘s inhabitants. It is obvious that only a small number of the Mikulov Jews could make their living in the town as artisans; the rest had to become merchants. The congregation suffered severely during the Silesian wars (1740–1742, 1744–1745 and 1756–1763), when they had to furnish the monarchy with their share in the supertaxes exacted by the government of Maria Theresa from the Jews of Moravia.

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    Quite a number of Mikulov Jews continued to earn their livelihood in Vienna, where they were permitted to stay for some time on special passports. The freedom of residence, which was conceded to the Jews in Austria in 1848, reduced the number of resident Jews in Mikulov to less than one-third of the population which it contained at the time of its highest development. In 1904, there were 749 Jewish residents in the city, out of a total population of 8,192.In 1938 the city population totaled about 8,000 inhabitants. Out of these, 472 were Jewish. The Jewish settlement in Mikulov ceased to exist during World War II.

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  • Valtice - Czech Republic

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    The Czech Republic is way more than just Prague and Valtice is one the proof .. it is a small town in Břeclav District, South Moravian Region in the Czech Republic, situated 265 kilometres  south-east of Prague, on the Austrian border.

    Here you find beautiful landscapes full of vineyards and it reminds me a lot my hometown Bordeaux, France.
     
    Valtice contains one of the most impressive Baroque residences of Central Europe. It was designed as the seat of the ruling princes of Liechtenstein by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach in the early 18th century. Construction was supervised by Domenico Martinelli, who was employed as an on-site architect. The palace is surrounded by an English park with the Temple of Diana (1812) and other neoclassical structures. Together with the neighbouring manor of Lednice, to which it is connected by a 7 kilometres long lime-tree avenue, Valtice forms the World Heritage Site Lednice–Valtice Cultural Landscape.
     
    The princely family lost all its privileges with the collapse of their protectors the Habsburg Empire and by the then newly established state of Czechoslovakia in 1918, the predecessor of the Czech Republic; and the castle was confiscated after World War II, when the Communists took power.

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