Paradise on Earth in Baroque Gardens
The spirituality typical of the Baroque Era was reflected not only in the composition and decoration of monumental cathedrals, but also in the gardens that emerged in the 17th century around noble estates. These Baroque gardens were not just a pleasant place to relax, but also a reflection of heavenly paradise and an ideal, harmonious place for living.
Perfect symmetry and geometric shapes are united with ease, playfulness, and colour. Leading sculptors such as Matthias Bernard Braun and Ferdinand Maxmilian Brokoff created allegorical sculptures for these gardens, and were also involved in the decoration of fountains and other, smaller elements. Water in general plays a significant role in baroque gardens. The skies reflected in the tranquil surface of artificial ponds or streams symbolise the interconnection of the terrestrial world with God, while the running water in fountains, on the other hand, symbolises the fleetingness of life. Gardens were no longer isolated islands of beauty in the centre of inhospitable wilderness. The nobility in particular began to gradually build a stronger relationship with nature, and so even the gardens surrounding their chateaus began to open more into the surrounding landscapes, sensitively complemented by tree-lines alleyways, wayside crosses, chapels, and other decorative elements. In the desire for closer proximity to nature, aristocrats founded the first orangeries and artificial caves, called grottos.
A number of baroque gardens have survived to this day in their original form, or have undergone only small changes. One of the most beautiful examples from the early Baroque period can be admired in Kroměříž, whose Flower Garden is included in the UNESCO list of monuments. A tranquil atmosphere and remarkable views of Old Prague can be experienced in the palace gardens below Prague Castle, however, one-of-a-kind baroque compositions can also be found in many other places—such as the chateau in Český Krumlov, as well as in Duchcov, Mikulov, Dobříš, and Buchlovice.