Terrace gardens flourish in bustling Prague
The elegant Baroque terraces of Fürstenberg Gardens, on the slopes leading down from Prague Castle, were recently returned to full splendour through a large-scale restoration project, and now welcome thousands of visitors every year.
“Today, the restored Fürstenberg Gardens are opening their kind and charming arms to all who want to enjoy their pleasures and romance.”
Pavel Bém, Mayor of Prague
Landscape specialists have revived and recreated an oasis of peace and beauty, preserving old trees and blending in new flowering plants and shrubs, giving visitors a unique place to relax and enjoy in the heart of historic Prague.
The garden roots
This site of natural beauty has been influenced over time by Benedictine nuns from the 13th century, noblemen and merchants in the 15th and 16th centuries, and the Baroque style from the 18th century. Later on under Communist rule, the terraced part of the gardens was deliberately neglected and remained closed to the public. With the eventual restoration of democracy, the Polish ambassador, Jacek Baluch, initiated a complete renovation of the gardens, which were later re-opened to the public. Recent statistics show that visitors paying to see the gardens rose from 3 000 in 2008 to 6 500 in 2009.
Putting the spotlight back on nature
Large-scale restoration work was carried out to preserve 10 raised terraces with retaining walls and steps, despite inherent challenges, notably the delicate operation of using bulky and heavy modern building equipment on the narrow historic walkways. A new sewerage and water piping system was put in place and the pavilion underwent restoration work including modern toilet facilities for visitors. One attractive feature that brings the scene to life at night is the lighting, which makes the place an ideal natural setting for evening visits. In addition to rare and precious old trees which have been carefully preserved, 3 500 new flowering plants, 8 500 trees and shrubs and 2 200 rose bushes were planted in the gardens.
Events such as European Heritage Days, the opening of the 24th Symposium on Plasma Physics and Technology organised by the Czech Technical University, celebrations organised by the Polish Embassy residing in the neighbourhood, or exhibitions of pupils´ decorative and graphic arts serve to illustrate how all members of society can benefit from this special space.
Hats off to the experts
The experts involved, including landscape architects, successfully produced what can only be described as pure garden harmony. The site now ranks among the greatest achievements of this country’s national heritage conservation policy.