The Tugendhat Villa is a masterpiece of the Modern Movement in architecture. It was created by the German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
The building in Brno was built in 1930 for Fritz Tugendhat, owner of a Brno textile factory.
Exquisite materials and modern technologies were used in the construction of this house. Its main structure is made of reinforced concrete with steel frames. The exterior of the house is painted white. The back wall of the living area is made of onyx panels from the Atlas Mountains.
The original furniture was also designed by Mies van der Rohe, such as the so-called Tugendhat chair.
The house had central heating and an air-conditioning system with a regulated fine-spray humidifying chamber.
Map of Tugendhat VillaLoad map
Visit April 2007
The villa is located in a residential area of Brno, and can easily be reached by public transport or by foot. Bear in mind that an essential part of its lay-out is the difference in height, so the last part of the walk is uphill.
I had arranged a guided visit. There were about 15 other interested visitors, mostly Czech. The whole tour was in Czech, the foreign visitors had to make do with a small booklet. The guide points out all the little details, unfortunately I missed out on some by not understanding the Czech explanation.
The house itself is a great treat of course. That view from the living room into the garden! Just like you're living in a country mansion, while in fact the house is located in a rather average city street.
Brno itself is a rather funny place to visit. One of my colleagues described it as a 'city full of prostitutes and tramps'. How bad can it be, I thought. Well, if you're attracted to people walking around with beer cans, or tasting Czech experiments in Chinese cookery, or have an above average interest in trams, or like to take advantage of free internet use for females AND don't mind a few sex clubs here and there - then you really have to check it out!
I visited this WHS in Summer 2019. I knew that I needed to book in advance to secure a spot to visit the interior. That said, since the villa is privately owned and poorly managed by young unwelcoming staff who have no clue what customer care is, don't be surprised if your visit get's cancelled as late as one day before simply to accomodate a private company or a private function. This is what happened on the day I was supposed to visit.
Basically, while I was busy travelling from one WHS to another, as late as 15:45 on the day before I received an automatic email that my booking was cancelled. On their rather non-user-friendly website ( perhaps a premonition of the staff in general EXCEPT the elderly gardeners who look after the villa surroundings), a short notice was displayed saying that the Villa was closed and off-limits for tourists as a last-minute event had been organised for blind locals. That meant not even the gardens! Since I was staying in Brno only for 1 night and all the other days were fully booked I was forced to forget visiting the villa's interior and had to make up for that by peaking through the huge glass wall and windows from the gardens as though I hadn't booked ahead.
Obviously I wasn't happy, but what frustrated me the most was the I-couldn't-care-less-attitude of the very young staff manning the Tugendhat villa ticket desk and souvenir shop. Most of them seemed very annoyed by the continuous flow of visitors asking possibly similar questions. Their responses in general were telegraphic and at times quite rude. On the other hand, two elderly gardeners looking after the villa gardens were utterly ashamed of their colleague's attitude and behaviour with visitors in general, and timidly approached many disappointed visitors in polite manner and provided some short explanations on the villa in general and on its importance.
For me the Tugendhat villa's highlight, apart from its modern architecture qualities, was the splendid view over Brno from the terrace (photo) and the privacy the villa enjoys thanks to the way it is constructed. Once inside the 'compound', it's as if you're isolated in a green space with a magnificent view of the city, even though in actual fact there are neighboring buildings everywhere. There is a chrome UNESCO WHS plaque on the floor of what is really part of the villa's upper terrace. The views from the garden are quite limited although it doesn't seem you'll be losing much, at least not as much as other inscribed WHS such as the Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht.
Even though I'm not much of a modern architecture fan, I wouldn't consider the Tugendhat Villa worthy of inscription on its own. I think the approach of a serial nomination as is the case with the Le Corbusier WHS, Frank Lloyd WHS, Mumbai Art Deco WHS, is much better at least for someone like myself who's not a modern architecture enthusiast. At least you can visit a number of sites and appreciate different important aspects better that way. The fact you can at least view the interior, is much better than a visit of Stoclet House for example. However, the exterior of the Stoclet House immediately conveyed a sense of wonder and curiosity to me, something which I found lacking at the Tugendhat Villa. Perhaps its OUV can be better appreciated by those who love the A++ rated modern houses which look like matchboxes without the possibility of opening windows (there are a lot of them in Luxembourg and they are nicknamed 'houses-without-character' by those who prefer being able to open windows for some fresh air!).
One of the thing I found during my weeks long trip in Czechia was that it is a country of Baroque, its World Heritage Sites are mainly built or have some element in this style, as a result when I visited Tugendhat Villa, the visit was like a fresh air. On the way to the villa from my hotel which I carefully picked because of its location that I could walk to the villa easily after leant a problem of lacking carpark, it was clearly that Tugendhat villa was located in the nice wealthy neighborhood with many nice houses around. When I finally approached the villa, its appearance was quite surprising, while the architectural design of this white building was quite striking, it one story height remind me some kind of garage or storage than a living house. When the gate was opened, suddenly almost twenty persons appeared from nowhere for the guide tour, all of them were Czechs and Slovakians.
After showed the e-ticket and paid for extra photo fee, surprisingly I was the only person who made advance booking! The lovely guide asked all visitors to wait at the rear outdoor terrace where I could see the great view of Brno. The tour was only in Czech, but the guide was kind enough to explain everything I questioned in English. After brief welcome explanation, the guide took us inside to see the first floor or the street level floor. I was surprised that all the bedrooms and private space were located on this floor, next to the street. The highlight was the villa entrance room with beautiful curved translucent glass with cross shaped shiny chrome coated columns and white travertine floor, such a revolutionary design but simple and elegant. Then we went to the second floor, this maybe the most impressive thing of the whole villa. A large room with onyx wall and such large windows, with all the furniture, plants, and small decorations, the villa was incredibly cozy, I even though that I could live here. With no separating wall all spaces, library, study room and entertainment area were connected similar to Asian houses and become one big room. The dining room were equally impressive with size adjustable table made from expensive wood from Southeast Asia. Even in modernism, the wealth and luxury lifestyle of the owner could display in the same par of all those gilded baroque decorations. After that the guide showed the winter garden, kitchen and other rooms, quite plain but impressive for revolutionary idea and design. Then we continued to the third floor which had small exhibition and souvenir shop. I quickly went to see the rear garden for its nice view of the villa, before ending my visit.
I really enjoyed my visit to Tugendhat Villa, it was beautiful and gave me “wow” similar to the first time I went to Rietveld Schroder House in Utrecht. One of the thing I felt when visiting this villa was that such design could be adopt and adjust to anybody house, the design could connect to normal lifestyle more than Le Corbusier’s work of Villa Savoye despite of many similarities of these two buildings. In my opinion Tugendhat is the third best World Heritage Site the Czechia has after Prague and Cesky Krumlov.
I have not been to see the house, but have fallen in love with it after reading Simon Mawer's extraordinary book " The Glass Room" which uses the house as a ficticious setting, the home of the wealthy Landauer family. The image I had of the house in my mind was exactly matched by the photos available on the web. I truly hope one day to visit this extraordinary house. True genius.
As a fan of modern architecture, I could hardly wait until after years of restoration the Tugendhat Villa has been re-opened to the public. It must be said that they have really done a great job. Architects, preservationists and historians have studied old plans, archives and historical photographs and were able to renovate the villa to its original state. The massive damage that resulted from decades of disinterest, some strange uses (e.g. by a dance school or a children's hospital) and previous, inappropriate restorations were eliminated. Some parts of the original interior could be retrieved, others were (or will be) replaced by faithful replica. The greatest success was that the makassar-ebony wall of the dining room, which was missed since the Second World War, has been recovered. Towards the street, the villa appears like a simple bungalow with garage. And also the lobby and the upper floor show nothing exceptional: white walls, a little chrome, the usual furniture of bedrooms and children's rooms. But after climbing down the elegant staircase, you have a real wow-effect: A large, light-flooded room, supported by thin, chromium-plated columns and separated only by an onyx wall, elements of exotic wood or fine curtains. And the elegant furniture, also designed by Mies, some specifically for the villa. The room has a large, continuous window front on two sides providing a vast panorama of the city of Brno. Mies van der Rohe has built the villa cleverly into a steeply sloping property, the white-painted villa is a strong contrast to the greenery of the surroundings. The villa was influential in modern architecture with its clear lines and simple shapes. The principle of 'open floor plan' was realised: one coherent space where the individual functions are not divided into different rooms. The units melt into each other, the separating elements are different colour, floor covering, light, room dividers or furniture. The windows, the wall elements and the doors extend from the ceiling to the floor. There are almost no visible horizontal lines, not even in the grain of the wooden elements. I can confirm the previous reviewer that the guide was very competent, he explained in detail the history of the villa, its architectural characteristics and the technical facilities. It was interesting to learn how the ventilation, the heating and the engines of the retractable windows work. Some of the original facilities are still in use. For all who are interested in modern architecture, Villa Tugendhat is a must see. But it could be interesting for everyone to see an origin of principles of modern architecture, which are today a matter of course. You have to book a guided tour a few weeks in advance via this website.
The villa is now re-open after extensive renovations and it is necessary to book ahead for tours, which cost about $20.00 (I booked on-line about three weeks before my April 14, 2012 tour.)
The only tours in English are the so-called "technical" tours which last about 90 minutes (the other tour is about an hour). The technical tour includes the (state of the art at the time) air-conditioning and heating facilities, whose mechanisms were explained by the guide in an easy to understand manner. My tour group had about ten people in it so it did not feel crowded.
The villa is in a quiet residential area of Brno, easily accessible in about ten minutes by several tram and bus lines, or about a 40 minute walk from the train station through the old town (very nice) then for about 15 minutes on a run down stretch of a wide, much trafficked ugly avenue and then about five minutes more along a tree-lined street.
Even those who are familiar with, or fans of Mies Van de Rohe will find a visit fascinating. My guide was excellent and well informed. Besides explaining the minimalist philosophy of Van de Rohe, and how he made it a reality in this residence, the guide also provided a history (very sad for the most part) of the house in the period following the Tugendhat's flight from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia and abandonment of the villa up until the present. It is a microcosm of what happened to the people of the Czech Republic and their country, so those with a interest in the history will also find the tour interesting.
Although the upstairs bedrooms looked to me like motel rooms from the 50s, I imagine this is a tribute to the influence of Van de Rohe on modern architecture. It's when the group went downstairs to the living area, library and dining room that there were audible gasps. A huge onyx wall, rosewood and ebony doors, walls, tables and shelving, 8 or 9 foot high windows that looked out over the sloping grounds and a magnificent view of the Brno skyline and of course, those Barcelona chairs are all amazing and even to this non-architect's eye, form a textbook definition of what "less is more" can mean.
Unfortunately, most of the kitchen and laundry facilities were taken out but the guide said they are looking for period pieces to display.
The city of Brno is interesting in its own right, with a lovely old section and some quite streets just right for wandering. There is also an extensive art scene, with several galleries scattered around.
As a US expat living in Brno, CZ and working in Europe for the last five years, I took exception to the review and characterization of the City of Brno by the author of the article. The author unfortunately did not take the time to explore and really "taste" the culture and history of the City of Brno and it's people. In fact, it is clear to me the author spent very little time outside his/her hotel and speaking to the locals or looking for the history that was part of the charm and glory of Brno during it's days up until the mid 1930s when the city still bustled with culture and prosperity as part of the Austo-Hungarian Empire. The city suffered until the 1990s with the lack of investment before the Velvet Revolution.
This said, there is a huge amount of history and culture to be found walking it's streets and surrounding areas. There are castles (Hrad Špilberk & Hrad Veveøi), parks, threatres (open-air summer Shakespearian performances), historic Napoleonic battlefields (Slavkov-Austerlitz), firework festivals (Ignis Brunensis), Undergroud Caves with amazing Stalactites(Punkevní jeskynì),(a world class brewery (Staro Brno), Aquatic Centers not to mention the wonderful Moravian food and drink (Don't miss the Pork Ribs - Žebra and Potato pancakes - Bramboráky)that are enjoyed around the year in festivals and the local restaurants.
On a final note, if you go to Brno or any foreign country for that matter, realize that you are in a foreign culture and one with it's own language. You cannot expect the warmest welcome if you don't respenc the people and their native language. I recommend if you go with a phrasebook and a warm engaging smile, you will find that there the Moravian people are warm and proud people. Make an honest attempt to speak a few phrases of the local language even if it is only a polite greeting (Good Day - Dobrý den and Thank you - Dekuju).
If you do, I am sure you the locals will be amused at your pronounciation, but you will certainly get help and a much warmer reception and you may even get pointed to a great local restaurant and the many hard to find secrets this area has to offer.
I drove from Vienna to the house for a guided tour that was in Czech and translated into very bad German. We were given a card-like menu to read from. Visually the house is in bad shape (this was September 2008)there is exterior water damage and structural damage.
The most impressive things about the house are the fixed pieces; dining room table, curtain rods on the ceiling to create 'partions' in the open floor plan, the air conditioning system, and the electronic windows that roll down like a car window!
Go there when the restoration is complete, it is worth it!
Reading Simon Mawer's brilliant fictionalised account of the building's life - 'The Glass Room' - I feel I have lived in the villa for the last week. I'm frustrated that I have spent some time in Brno in the past, without realising that this architectural jewel even existed. I must return!
I also have to take exception to the first contributor above - in seventeen years living in the city I have yet to come across images such as are described. In fact, I don't believe that person has even visited the city - who on earth carries around beer cans? Beer is 99% sold in bottles! I have never had Czech Chinese food in Brno, but I have had plenty of very decent Vietnamese fast food, cooked by Vietnamese. The tram system is second to none, rendering car use superfluous, and unless you go looking for them the sex clubs are pretty much invisible, and are certainly not in the centre. Free internet use for females? I've heard it all now...
Anyway- rant over - as for the Villa - yes, it looks pretty unprepossessing from the outside, and you have to bear in mind that it has been through the mill over the years (even having been used as stabling for horses after the war) so it is no surprise that it might look a bit shabby in places so a thorough re-fit is welcome.
The inside though is stunning, as is the view over the city's dominant features - the Špilberk castle and the spiky cathedral - especially in the summer or on a crisp winter's day. Once all the original glasswork is replaced it will truly live up to its reputation.
As a Czech speaker I obviously have no problem with the tour (plus I have worked on the preparation of the UNESCO documentation), but my mother has been on an English tour so they do exist - it all depends on who is on duty that day, I suppose.
I just returned from a summer holiday to Czech, Slovakia and Poland. Initially Tugenhat was not on my itinerary because they have been scheduled to close for renovations for some time. However last week when I was in Brno, I found out that they are still open. Apparently due to economics, the site city continues to postpone the renovations. The latest date is the end of next month but you never know. Anyhow, I took the opportunity to visit the site on Saturday morning and it was located on a tree lined street of suburban homes. The only reason you will notice the villa is that there is a sign on the street. the villa is totally not noticeable from the street.
The description of this site is already well documented by all the previous comments. my only adds are: biggest surprise--the wall of the living room and dining room is all glass from ceiling to floor for the entire wall of over 30m with no moldings. Sections of this wall (5m wide X 3M high) can be lowered electrically to waist height which opens up the room to the outside. Quite an achievement in the 1920s. Biggest disappointment-- the villa is in a very poor condition. The walls are cracked, paint peeling, wood rotting etc
I was told it would take 3-5 years to restore.
I am glad I made it before they closed but its not quite the Taj Mahal.
One day we have finally visited the Tugendhat Villa in Brno, in the quarter of Černa Pole, which is situated only 500 metres from my grandparent's house. This building constructed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1930 for the family Tugendhat is a masterpiece of the international style in the modern movement. It is a detached house with a floor area of 2000 sq. m. in a residential zone; it has a flat roof and three floors (one facing to the street and three to the garden) with different plans. The entrance is from the street on the north side of the lot, that forms a garden. The uppermost floor includes a terrace, partly open and partly covered, and a balcony. Inside there are an entrance hall, family bedrooms, services, a master bedroom, a dressing room, the garage and the caretaker's lodging. Two stairways bring to the main floor, that has three parts: a part is the main living area (that has large electrically operated windows) with a reception room, a music corner, a study, a library, sitting areas, dining room, services and a winter garden (280 sq. m.), a part that has kitchen facilities and the last one is the servants' area. A stairway brings to the garden floor, that has utility rooms and is used for technical purposes. The house is made of reinforced concrete with steel frames and it's supported by polished still pillars; a steel skeleton also carries ceramic ceiling panels. The exterior of the house is rendered and painted white. In the staircases leading to the garden are used light-coloured travertine tiles and ivory-coloured linoleum in the living hall; the entrance is panelled with dark palisander wood. The back wall of the living area is made of beautiful onyx, brought from the Atlas mountains in Africa, divided in 5m long and 3 m large panels (like the glass wall). The furniture was designed by the architect and some pieces were made specifically for the house (like the Tugendhat chair, in chromium-plated flat steel elements and upholstered in stitched leather) and had a specific place. The house had central heating and an air-conditioning system with a regulated fine-spray humidifying chamber.
Even if it is interesting I was a little bit disappointed by this building and also by its state of conservation, perhaps because I don't like modern architecture like the earlier. It is worth to be visited if you are in or near Brno. I think however that justiefies the inscription because it is one of the biggest masterpieces of modern art and the biggest in Czech Republic and because there aren't many monuments of this type on the WHL. You need booking to visit the interior (there are only guided tours) and it's quite difficult to get there if you don't know Brno.
Photo: Brno - Tugendhat Villa
Over the years the World Heritage List have taken me to a number of brilliant architectural sites - from the Bauhaus sites in Dessau and Weimar, the Rietveld Schröderhuis in Utrecht, Victor Horta’s brilliant Art Noveaux houses in Brussels to the exceptional architectural pearls in Barcelona by Antoni Gaudí. I am absolutely sure that there are much more to appoint in this category and I hope this is something Unesco will prioritise more in the future.
The Tugenhat Villa in Brno is a functionalistic, open-plan Bauhaus building from 1929, that was built by the German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for a rich newlywed couple. With WWII and the communist period to follow, the beautiful villa in the suburb of Ĉerná Pole, have had quite a different history than maybe once intended but over the last 10 years it has been carefully restored to the state it was once meant to be in.
Guided tours are made every hour, unfortunately only in Czech, and I hope that tours in additional languages will be available in the future as well as a removal of the ridiculous photo-ban that no one seemed to follow anyway. At the time of my visit, many other disappointed people had to walk away since only groups of approx 20 people are allowed in per hour. My advise for your visit is therefore to pre-book well in advance.
I have to admit that I´m not the biggest fan of modern architecture and I don´t really know much about it. But since I was in Brno anyway, I thought I could see another WH site and go to the Villa Tugendhat. It´s a short tram ride from the center, or about a 25-minute walk. Frankly, I wasn´t overly impressed by what I saw, but I didn´t expect otherwise. I thought it was just an ordinary building that was pretty fancy for its time. The big room downstairs and the view of the garden are nice, though. I guess some like modern architecture, some don´t. As usual in the Czech Republic, there were guided tours in Czech only, and pretty mediocre brochures in German and English. The site is still open until the end of October before it will be closed for a few years for restoration works. Maybe the visitor services will improve then. Brno, by the way, is in my opinion quite a pleasant city (with the notable exception of the Soviet-style train station), with a huge cathedral and the impressive Spielberg fortress (now, that would be World Heritage material in my mind, but it isn´t even on the Czech tentative list...).
The Vila was built 1928-30 and it is a prime example of the Modernist International style of architecture. It was designed by Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, one of the most important architects of the 20th century; he worked closely with the Bauhaus movement and was a pioneer in glass curtain skyscrapers that came to dominate many cities through-out the world.
The Villa is set out on three floors the top one is a reception area with the bedrooms. The main floor is the next one down. It is a large open plan room divided only by two non structural walls. One of these walls is made of Onyx, and at the time of construction this one small section cost the equivalent of a family house. Despite the sparse interior, no expense was spared on this residence. To put the cost of this place in context, a generation or two before the Tugendhats’ would probably have commissioned a palace. The views over Brno from the main room are probably the best available and the huge ceiling to floor windows make the most of it. The furniture in the Vila is the height of modernist design and contain Mies’ superb Brno chair which is still in production today.
The third floor is just for maintenance and ventilation purposes so you don’t get to see it.
The Villa is on the outskirts of Brno and is pretty easy to reach. You will have to RESERVE a place to be able to see the inside of the Villa so do get in contact with the Villa before you leave. I was surprised that after several attempts to arrange a tour I was unable to get a time it seems to be very popular even on a weekday in February. I was even more surprised therefore when I finally got my tour that I had a visit all by myself which was an odd experience.
To get to the Villa take tram No 5 from the north of the city centre and get off at Cerna Pole then it is about a 2 minute walk up to the Villa. Or if you chose to walk from the station it would take about 30 minutes.
If you have an interest in modernist architecture this is a must see if you are in the area. I learnt a lot about a movement that before I found to be a little bland however it made me understand Mies’ famous saying that ‘less is more’ and I have now become a big fan of the style.
NB: The official website is constantly stating that the Villa will be closed for an extensive refurbishment at some stage a few months in the future; it has been saying this for the past few years but it is still worth checking if it will be open or not. You can contact the Villa on the following e-mail address; the same one can be used to make reservations: email@example.com
Stunning, wonderful experience to see and experience this unique place.
Tours are well organized and informative; however, you must book a tour in order to enter. Groups are limited to 15; if one is not available in your language, still join--printed information is available, and language shouldn't keep you from this experience.
TUGENDHAT VILLA,Černopolní 45, phone +420 545 212 118, open Wednesdays - Sundays 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., last admission at 5.15 p.m. Guided tours only, starting each sharp hour, maximum number of persons per group 15. Advance telephone bookings only!
The trip from Prague can be made by train--out early in the morning; back in evening. This allows some time for exploring the town--you could also spend a couple of days here. G. Mendel, the monk who discovered genetics through his study of peas, lived and worked here-- there is a well done little museum at his monestary.
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