- The Vrtba Garden, a uniquely designed architectural jewel, is accessible from Karmelitská street, Malá Strana (Lesser Quarter), Prague.
- The Vrtba Garden is a Class 1 cultural monument registered in the UNESCO World Heritage List and is the property of the City of Prague.
Together with three other Baroque gardens (Vratislav, Schönborn and Lobkowicz), the Vrtba Garden is situated on the slope of Petřín Hill and is one of the most precious of Prague's Baroque gardens. This Italian-style Baroque terrace-garden of was built for Jan Josef, Count of Vrtba, the Highest Burgrave of Prague Castle, near Vrtba Palace in 1715 - 1720.
The ingenious layout, which is proof of convincing style interpretation was designed by František Maxmilián Kaňka, a Prague native, who cooperated in the creation of this masterpiece with sculptor Matyáš Bernard Braun, whose workshop supplied statue and sculpture decorations, and painter Václav Vavřinec Reiner, the author of the frescoes. The surprising effect of the garden's composition is based on the gradation of the terrace plateaus interconnected by stairways and borne by supporting walls shaped in curves typical of the Baroque style.
The bottom section of the garden, with a round pool in the middle and a putto statute on a sea monster, is situated between the Sala Terrena on the north side of the Palace's south wing and an aviary, which forms a mirror-opposite decorative scene. The Sala Terrena, which forms a typical connection of the Palace and the garden is decorated with Reiner's frescoes and statues of Bacchus and Cerera by Matyáš Bernard Braun.
The main axis of the garden runs at a right angle to the shorter axis, connecting Sala Terrena and the aviary, ascending along the steep north-eastern slope. In addition to the balancing stairways, it is also fastened in the middle section by a round pool and an arc-shaped scene wall. On the central terrace with a round pool in the middle, there is a high retaining wall of typically Baroque round segments, with a balustrade and a two-wing stairway. This solution was opted for not only to deal with the considerable difference in elevation but also as a stage for the effective presentation of the statues of ancient gods and relief-decorated vases (1720 - 1725). Towards its upper sections the garden narrows and culminates in the highest south-west end with the terminal three-wing arc scene. The central wing is surrounded by grotto shells and emphasised by an arc-shaped gable with a relief of water divinities. Originally, there was a fresco on it. In the side wings we see rectangular recesses, again with grotto shells around the edges, and top round recesses with a relief of mermaids.
The spectacular compositional layout of the garden was created by the plant decoration, the original structure of which is now remembered only in general descriptions. The Sala Terrena connected to Giardinetto with Broderia. The central terrace offered parterre symmetric ornament, fitted into side cut bosks. The top terrace allegedly used to repeat the pattern of ornamental flower beds and side bosk fillings from the previous terrace. It was accommodated to the structure of the top terrace, divided into three low levels and narrowing towards the final coulisse. In 1845, the palace complex was rebuilt into the Classicist style, a fact which was also reflected in the garden. By the dividing wall between the bottom and the central section of the garden, Empire additions were constructed and it appears that there was also an observation point situated on the terminal scene wall. It is almost certain that these conversions also led to the removal of the original plant structure, which has never been renewed.
The image of Prague's gardens is associated particularly with Baroque gardens. The Vrtba Garden belongs among our country's most precious and beautiful Baroque gardens and is considered to be a masterpiece of European importance; however, in the context of other historical monuments forming the premises of the Prague Historical Reserve, its importance is rather at a world level. The Vrtba Garden is described as an Italian-style Baroque terrace garden but the influence of foreign style form is incorporated in a unique and distinctive manner, as is generally typical for Czech Baroque architecture. It is characterized by an ideal accommodation to the domestic environment, a unique layout concept on a small area, a masterful dealing with the space and gradation of material. The concept and the actual realization make the garden a unique masterpiece.
After reconstruction, the Vrtba garden reopened on 3 June 1998 and visitors are now offered the attractive opportunity to see this unique Baroque Vrtba Garden, which is said to be the most charming garden of its type north of the Alps.