Brno's Villa Tugendhat celebrates 20 years of UNESCO World Heritage status

In celebration of 20 years of inclusion on the list of the world's most important landmarks, Villa Tugendhat welcomes visitors old and new this winter.

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky Published on 19.12.2021 14:52 (updated on 21.12.2021) Reading time: 2 minutes

This weekend marks 20 years since Villa Tugendhat in Brno was granted UNESCO World Heritage status on December 16, 2001, and the Brno City Museum is taking the opportunity to invite new visitors the location. The building remains the only example of Czech modernist architecture on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Construction of Villa Tugendhat began in 1929 by German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and designer Lilly Reich for members of the influential Jewish Tugendhat family.

Fritz and Greta Tugendhat, along with their children, lived at the location for eight years before the building was confiscated by the Nazi gestapo and the family fled to Switzerland. While the Tugendhats returned to the Czech Republic after World War II, they never lived in the building again as the Villa fell into disrepair.

In 1967, Greta Tugendhat consulted with US architect Dirk Lohan on restoring the location. Restoration took place in the 1980s, and in 1992 political leaders Václav Klaus and Vladimír Mečiar met at Villa Tugendhat to sign the agreement that split Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

From 1994, the building has been open to the public under the auspices of Brno City Museum. Visitor interest in the building has increased significantly in recent years; while only 8,000 people toured Villa Tugendhat in 2000, 60,000 people visited the location in 2019.

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The striking modernist building has undergone extensive changes over the past twenty years to bring it back to its original 1930s appearance. From 2010-2012, restoration work took place on the exterior and interior of the building, along with the surrounding garden.

The 2019 drama The Glass Room, starring Games of Thrones' Carice van Houten and The Square's Claes Bang, tells a fictionalized version of the history of Villa Tugendhat, and was filmed on location at the landmark Czech building.

Last week, the Villa unveiled a new website through which tours can be booked online. Into the future, Brno City Museum is evaluating ways of improving accessibility of the historic location for people with disabilities.

"I would like the icon of modern architecture, which Villa Tugendhat undoubtedly is, to be more accessible to the public, who cannot plan their visit to Brno several months in advance," Brno City Museum, Zbyněk Šolc states in a press release.

"The villa has its capacity limits, but we have decided to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List by organizing special tours on the 26th and 31st of December."

Due to the location's size and protected status, tours of Tugendhat Villa are strictly limited to sixteen participants at a time. Tickets are currently sold out through the end of the year, but selected dates in January are still open for booking through the new Tugendhat Villa website.

Tours run daily on the hour, and consist of basic 60-minute and extended 90-minute variations. In addition to Czech-language tours, multiple English-language options are available daily.

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Apart from tours of the building itself, unguided admission to the Tugendhat Villa garden is also available. Admission to the garden runs CZK 50, while the basic guided tour costs CZK 350 crowns CZK 400.

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