Valdštejn Gardens and ‘Sala Terrena’
These impressive formal gardens form part of the palace complex designed for Count Albrecht of Wallenstein by the architectural triumvirate of Giovanni Pieroni, Andrea Spezza and Nicolo Sebregondi. Covering four-and-a-half acres — nearly two hectares — the gardens are Italianate in style, with geometric hedges, lawns and paths intersecting with ornamental lakes and fountains.
An impressive central avenue is flanked by statues of figures from antiquity, originally designed in 1626 by the Dutch sculptor Adriaen de Vries. These were comprehensively looted by the Swedes in the final conflict of the Thirty Years’ War in 1648, and what we see today are copies; the originals are to be found at the royal palace of Drootningholm in Stockholm.
It is this avenue that leads the eye to the most impressive feature of the gardens, the monumental three-arched open-air pavilion, or sala terrena, by Giovanni Pieroni, completed in 1629. In form and dimensions it is a faithful copy of the portico of the duomo in Livorno, built under the supervision of his father Alessandro, architect to the Medicis.
Profusely decorated with frescoes of the Trojan War by Baccio Bianco (below), it’s no surprise that since its construction the pavilion has been used for concerts and theatrical performances. In 1859, Friedrich Schiller’s dramatic trilogy ‘Wallenstein’ was performed here. In the 20th century, the sala terrena formed the backdrop for two films based on the lives, respectively, of Mozart (Amadeus, 1984) and Beethoven (Immortal Beloved, 1994).