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History of the Island Complex

In the era of the late Renaissance and early Baroque, the cultural landscape around Mikulov was the scene of extraordinary activities. Artificial ponds and small streams to the south and east of the residential town were interconnected into a magnificent landscape system, the unifying element of which was water. The pond cascades, stream and millrace beds, water mills and fisheries, avenues of trees and orchards, bridges and summer houses all created an almost magical landscape.

In the first half of the 17th century there was a summer residence built on an island in Portz pond (today New pond) and complemented by flower arrangements and a forest park. The island complex, accessible over the long brick bridge and connected with the City of Mikulov through a two and a half kilometre long allée, was an extraordinary work of architecture of its time. In the late 19th century it was still described by historians as a landscape jewel of unique beauty. The complex was surrounded by gardens and cultivated vegetation, providing a place for enjoyment, respite, and also to display the status of the Mikulov Princes of Dietrichstein.

Today’s peninsula, where the above mentioned complex is located, used to be an island named after Portz pond (or the Quiet Island). The body of water then surrounding the pond was approximately twice as large as compared to its area today. The summer residence, referred to as “Lusthaus” in the land register from 1629, was protected with bastions, and the opposite buildings used as dwelling and service spaces, were originally connected with the summer residence through an underground corridor. This “paradise” island was connected to land with a complex bridge construction made up of many brick arches which was almost forgotten until recently. The extensive complex enclosed by a wall with corner bastions and its buildings were drawn during the first military mapping from 1764 to 1768, also capturing the fish holding cages and fishery at the edge of the pond.

The golden era of the summer residence complex suddenly came to an end in 1872 when, in consequence of building a railway line to Mikulov, the pond was drained and the bridge lost its main function. It continued to serve as the crossing over the Rybniční brook. The pond was later restored in the northern surroundings of the island, though due to the railway line it could not be refilled in its original scope, its southern part changed into a wetland forest and meadow. The island became a peninsula and the essentially disused bridge was no longer maintained. Thanks only to the inimitable quality of the bricks made by Mikulov’s skilful brickmakers of the 17th century, the construction has survived until today. As the whole area had been tightly enclosed over the period of 40 years under the totalitarian regime, the bridge was in a state of disrepair when the restoration carried out from 2019 to 2020 saved it for the future.

In the mid-20th century the pond was partially renovated in its northern part (today the Nový pond). The island would be maintained until the beginning of World War II, as confirmed by a record from 1937 (Haimatbuch Nikolsburg) about a rare visit from Windsor Castle. It was not the first time the Dietrichsteins received distinguished European monarchs on the island, but it was the last time In 1938 only the site administrator would stay on the island and after 1945 the whole area became part of the guarded border zone. In 1995, after the area was made accessible again, the summer residence complex was listed as cultural heritage site. The gradual renovation of the summer residence began in 2003 and still continues. Now the summer residence is in private ownership.