The Český Krumlov gardens lie between the imposing Gothic castle of the eighteenth century Schwarzenburg princes and the surrounding Bohemian town, connecting the castle to the cobblestone streets and colorful houses below. Originally landscaped in 1550, the gardens offer an eclectic mix of styles with French baroque planting beds, Italian neoclassical influences, and architectural elements taken from Hapsburg Vienna. The landscape design was finalized in 1752, with the addition of a four-tier fountain flanked by two grand staircases. Along with its stone sculpture of Neptune and his water gods, the fountain became the gardens’ centerpiece. While the gardens and sculptures remained intact and drew tourists to the many terraces, grand staircases, and water displays, they were not maintained in the second half of the twentieth century. Air pollution dramatically deteriorated many sculptural elements, and the water supply system ceased to function.
A complete reconstruction of the Cascade Fountain
World Monuments Fund placed the Český Krumlov gardens on the Watch in 1996 and provided support toward the documentation and reconstruction of the Cascade Fountain. The entire structure was found to be unsound due to sliding foundations and eroding shell limestone. Because of problems with the pipes, water had not run in the fountain for over 15 years. It was determined that many of the original statues had been damaged beyond repair by pollution; they were moved inside and sculptors began work on replicas for the garden. WMF and the Czech Ministry of Culture oversaw the dismantling, repair, and complete reconstruction of the Cascade Fountain. The project was finished in late 1998, and the fountain functions today.
The sculptural deterioration at Český Krumlov helped raise awareness of the danger of pollution in preserving historical monuments; the Czech government committed to addressing this threat. These lush gardens serve as a visual collage of history, and as such are one of the largest and most valuable examples of a chateau garden in the Czech Republic and indeed all of Central Europe. The efforts of WMF and the Czech government have renewed this stunning display of landscaping and architectural development and styles.