Villa Tugendhat has borne witness to the birth of modern housing and also to the tragic fate of the people who lived there. This work by the famous German architect Mies van der Rohe is to this very day regarded as one of the four most important villas in the world. Thanks to its values, this gem of modern architecture has also been included in the UNESCO world heritage list.
Villa Tugendhat in the Brno city district of Černá Pole was built at the request of Greta and Fritz Tugendhat who came from a rich textile trading family in Brno. The building is set into a slope, the greatest virtue of which is the wonderful view over the historical centre of Brno. The villa broke from all period trends in all respects with its functionality, and its interior was way ahead of its time.
The unsettled history of this architectural gem
Mr. and Mrs. Tugendhat moved into the villa in 1930 and only lived there for eight years. As Jews, they were forced to leave under threat of German expansion into the Czechoslovak Republic and they never returned to the villa. It was confiscated by the Gestapo and fell into the hands of the Czechoslovak state after the war. However, the dramatic story of the villa and above all the people who lived there also inspired the writer Simon Mawer to write the highly acclaimed novel, The Glass Room.
Timeless design of the villa
The building evoked great emotion as soon as it was finished. The actual space is made up of three floors although from the street it looks like a one-storey building. The middle floor was used as the living and representative area. There is a suggestion of division inside by means of drapes, a wooden semi-circular wall and the elegant onyx wall which changes colour according to the angle at which rays of sunlight hit it. The upper floor houses the reception hall, a separate bedroom for the Tugendhats with en suite bathroom, two children’s rooms and a room for the nursemaid. The adjacent flat was used by the building engineer and as a garage for two cars. The interiors are fitted with elegant and very sensitively designed furniture by the very architect who designed the villa. This is still produced to this very day.
Where else to set out for?
Brno is the capital city of Moravia and as such offers many other monuments. You should not fail to take a tour of the two most famous dominant features on the Brno skyline. The medieval Špilberk Castle offers unique tour routes through the underground including the former prison. On the other hand, the Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul in Brno is a beautiful example of Central European church architecture.