The southern side of the Wallenstein palace opens onto its garden with an imposing Sala Terrena, an open space with three monumental archways, creating a majestic transition between the inside and the outside. It bears the same harmonious ornamental style as the palace’s staterooms. Arabesques, flower and fruit garlands, shells, niches and supporting angels with stucco lanky bodies, are framing mythological scenes on the frescos painted on the walls and the vault. As is the case in the Main Hall of the palace, the theme of war was given place of honor, celebrating the glory and the military excellence of the count of Wallenstein.
An orderly garden brightened up with fountains, trimmed box trees and topiary decorations, stretches in the axis of the Sala Terrena with an outstanding series of bronze statues. These are copies of works by Adrien de Vries, the leading sculptor in Bohemia in the early 17th century (the originals were stolen by the Swedish army by the end of the Thirty Years War). The supple and lanky bodies, the gracious forms, the very expressive movements and pauses, the dynamic compositions, are typical features of the Mannerist style. The statues represent a kicking horse, combat scenes with Hercules or other anonymous fighters, and mythological characters (Apollo, Venus and Adonis, Neptune, Bacchus…).
The neat and elegant features of this bright part of the garden are set in contrast with a surprising wall of artificial stalactites, which gives an almost alarming feeling. Contorted masks, snakes, owls and grotesque monsters hide among the grey stalactites that progressively overrun the adjoining aviary (with real owls this time), and even extend on the other side of the Sala Terrena, towards the grotto and the palace itself. The grotto, a symbol of the passing of time, of the irreversible degeneration that leads to unavoidable death, of decline and ruin, originates from Italy and is typical of the Mannerist esthetics full of contrasts.
At the edge of the garden, the former Riding Hall was converted into a gallery in the 1950’s, where the National Gallery regularly organizes temporary exhibitions.
Valdštejnská zahrada – Wallenstein garden
Prague 1 - Malá Strana
How to get there:
Tram: lines 12 – 20 – 22, stop “Malostranské náměstí”.
Subway: Green line A, station “Malostranská”.
In April, May, September and October: Monday to Friday from 7:30am to 6pm, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm.
In July and August: Monday to Friday from 7:30am to 7pm, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 7pm.
Entrance free of charge.
Note that the Wallenstein garden is closed during the winter, from November to March.