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Valeč - baroque castle garden with statues of Matthias Braun

The village of Valeč is located in the Karlovy Vary district in the north-west of the Czech Republic.The first written mention of the village dates from 1358, when it was confiscated during the war by the Citbor brothers and Benes. Other owners of the estate during the Middle Ages: Zeman of Stebni, holding estates in nearby Ješek; Jan Hammer of Stebni 1368; Boreš of Oseka 1371; Beneš Buskovic from 1377 to 1416; and the masters of Doupov Nevlas and Jan 1416; Sezema of Doupov 1454; and Jan Doupov of 1487.

The village was given municipal rights December 1514, upon a request by Władysław II Jagiełło. In 1570 Christopher Štampach of Štampach bought Valeč. Václav Štampach of Štampach then built a Renaissance castle, whose appearance today is not known. After Václav Štampach joined the Estates Uprising and in 1622 left the country, the castle was confiscated. However in 1623, Valeč was bought by Barbora Štampachová of Poutnov.

The castle underwent significant change in the time of Prince Johann Christoph Kager at the turn of the 17th and 18th century. In this period, the Renaissance castle was converted to a square two-story baroque castle, led by architects Francesco Barelli, Antonio Bianno Rossa and after his death, John Christopher Tyll. He also laid out the castle garden, equipped it with theater, cascading fountain and sculptures by the renowned Matthias Bernard Braun. Near the castle is the Church of the Holy Trinity built by architect GA Biana Rossou between the years 1710-1728. In its courtyard is also located the Holy Trinity Column by KM Kanka created in 1725 .

In the 18th century Valeč was occupied by Jan Ferdinand Kager of Globen beginning in 1721, and then Jan Antonín Pegen of Perga, the Czech Austrian Minister. Although he only owned it for a year, he heavily indebted the estate through costly remodeling.

The castle underwent several modifications in the Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Baroque style. That is credited mainly to Earl Vincent de Thurn - Valssasin between 1895 and 1896. In 1937, Jan Larisch - Mönnich purchased Valeč, repairing the roof and cracks in the walls, and installing central heating. In 1945, based on the Beneš decrees, the palace was confiscated and handed over to the management of the organization of political prisoners. In 1947 the Ministry of Agriculture allocated it to the Central Directorate of State Forests and Farms and it was then used as a home for Korean children and from the early fifties as a children's home. After a fire on 2 April 1976, the regional conservation center in Plzeň took over management of the palace. Reconstruction of the building, began in the 1990s and continues to today.



Matthias Bernard Braun was born 24 February 1684 in Sautens near Innsbruck. He was a sculptor and carver active in the Czech lands, one of the most prominent late baroque style sculptors in the area.

Matthias Bernard Braun was born as the fifth child of Jacob Braun and Magdalene born Neureuter. He apprenticed in Austria (Salzburg) and Italy (Venice, Bologna, Rome). And in his work, it is the Italian influence, that is the most prominent. He was inspired by Michelangelo Buonarroti, Gian Lorenzo Bernini and by the Venetian sculptural school of the 17th century and thus became a great propagator of the Italian-provenience sculpture in the Central-European context.

Some time before 1710, Braun came to visit Prague, already as a full-fledged artist creating from sandstone, and soon he became domestic in Bohemia. He found his wife and friends there, and became a citizen to the New Town of Prague. Already his first work - the statuary of the Vision of St. Luthgard (Czech: Vidění sv. Luitgardy) from 1710, situated on Charles Bridge in Prague - brought to him much attention and many new orders. Braun then was able to found the biggest workshop in Prague, employing six journeymen and having an income of 900 golden a year around 1725. Soon, he himself could not manage the number of new commissions for Prague palaces, gardens, churches and many other places in Bohemia, a situation worsened by the progressing tuberculosis. That is why he only created the designs and models, had his cooperators realize them and completed the work into the final appearance. He had five children, none of which continued his work, though. He died in Prague in 1738.

Matthias Braun is probably the most famous for his collection of the allegories of Virtues and Vices situated at the Kuks Hospital in Bohemia, a commission of count František Antonín Špork. Other notable sculptures include: the Bethlehem - monumental statues chiselled directly in sandstone rocks near Kuks, forty pitoresque statues of dwarfs at the Kuks race-course, several statuaries at Charles Bridge in Prague, statues in the St. Kliment's church (Prague), the stone pillar of the Holy Trinity in Teplice, the sculptures in the interior of Czernin palace (Prague), and many others. Mattyas Braun died in 15 February 1738 at Prague.