Monday, May 30, 2016

Kuks - Czech Republic

These are the last czech cards sent by Emerich.

Kuks is a village in the Czech Republic, Hradec Králové Region. Its main feature is a baroque spa building with famous sculptures by Matthias Braun.

The large baroque complex in the valley of the Elbe River was constructed between 1692 and 1724 on the demand of count František Antonín Špork, the owner of the mansion. He had big plans for the locality, gradually starting to realise the large-scale transformation of the valley into a summer resort, which became the spa and social centre of the period nobility. One of the most representative spas in Bohemia of the time was built on the left bank. Gradually, a staircase with a chateau, a theatre, a race track, spa houses, guest houses and Philosophers’ House with a library were constructed. The importance of the local spa already started to decline during the life of earl Špork and its destiny was definitely sealed after his death. Consequently, today there is practically nothing left from the buildings on the left bank except for the cascade staircase to the Elbe River. 

Foto © Petr Toman
However, the right bank of the Elbe River is much more interesting. In 1696, earl Špork decided to found a hospital for the old veterans from the surrounding area at his mansion. He had the hospital and the Holy Trinity Church and crypt of an earl built according to the project of Italian architect Giovanni Battista Alliprandi. The monumental space in front of the church’s frontage and hospital is decorated by sculptures made by the significant baroque sculptor Matyáš Bernard Braun. The sculpture decoration was created from 1712 to 1731 and depicts the Allegory of Religion and a number of Virtues and Vices. 
Nowadays, the Kuks complex serves as a historical museum with exhibitions of baroque art and development of medicine. It is possible to visit the church, the gardens, the earl’s tombs as well as the perfectly preserved baroque pharmacy from 1743. - in:

Photo by Lubomír IMLAUF
Three kilometers from Kuks is Braun’s Nativity Scene, another creation of the sculptor of the twelve virtues and vices. This one, however, is open air. The collection of statues and carved grottos in the middle of the woods is a little eerie: hermits, saints, headless bodies, and more than a few skulls.
Braun was assisted by members of his workshop who included some of the best late-Baroque sculptors in Bohemia. The group of Biblical and other scenes sculptures are cut into living rock.
Due to various circumstances, only a torso has survived from the original complex and in spite of the toll taken by the elements over the years, still remains a unique example of Baroque sculpture at its best in Central Europe.
The scenes which have been preserved are the Nativity and the Advent of Three Kings, the gigantic figures of the legendary hermits, Onufrius and Juan Garinus, as well as John the Baptist, Mary Magdalene, The Vision of St. Hubert and the Jacob´s Well.
In 2000 Braun´s Nativity was, by the World Monuments Fund, put on the list of 100 most endangered monuments in the world. In 2001 this collection was proclaimed a National Monument.
These sculptures are also on the Unesco Tentative List.

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