Vrtba Garden is still one of Prague’s hidden gems. It’s a beautiful Baroque garden arranged on many layers in the slopes of Petrin Hill. There are amazing views of Prague from the top of the garden and plenty of opportunities to take great photos.
The Vrtba garden has won several prestigious medals for the most beautiful garden over the years and most recently in (2019/2020) was voted the second most beautiful garden in Europe.
Where is Vrtba Garden?
Vrtba Garden (Vrtbovska Zahrada) is located on the slopes of Petrin Hill in close proximity to Prague Castle and the Lesser Town (Mala Strana). You will find the entrance from the main street where the trams run, just a short walk from the Malostranske Square.
- Magical garden in a secluded town setting
- Great views of Prague
- Fab opportunity for photos
Vrtba garden was originally built for Jan Josef the Count of Vrtba who owned the house in the beginning of 18th century. The garden was designed by Frantisek Maxmilian Kanka and it also includes many statues by Matyas Bernard Braun.
The garden itself was designed within a space that was previously occupied by a vineyard. It was behind three different houses which were gradually bought by Sezim Jan Count of Vrtba and re-built as a palace around 1630s.
Two of the houses belonged to Krystof Harant z Polzic and Bezdruzic, who was a famous Czech music composer.
He bought them in 1620, but unfortunately didn’t get the chance to enjoy living there, as the next year he was one of the 27 Czech nobles who were executed in the Old Town square. His property was confiscated by the crown and in 1622 both houses were bought by Sezim Jan Count of Vrtba.
I’m only guessing that the house price was very affordable, because he bought another house next to it, turning all three into one palace.
His granson – Jan Josef Count of Vrtba was one of the highest officials serving at the royal court at the Prague Castle. This explains how he could afford the most sough after garden designers and sculptors to create his stunning garden. It was apparently all the rage to have a lavishly designed garden and you can still see other beautiful examples under the Prague Castle.
The count of Vrtba sold the palace in 1799 to Jan Mayer, who was another royal crown official. He decided to rebuild the palace but left the garden intact. From the 1807 the palace was in ownership of a local hospital.
The next re-furbishment of the palace and the garden took place around 1850. The garden lost it’s baroque style and additional outbuildings were added. One outbuilding was turned into a summer studio for the artist Mikolas Ales. He is well known for pretty paintings of villages, people and folk celebrations. He also illustrated many of books.
The garden was left to it’s own devices and sadly fell into disrepair. There were several attempts to refurbish it during the 1950s and 1990s and finally after an 8 year long period of upgrades the garden was open to public in 1998.
What to see in Vrtba Garden
As you enter the gardens through the ticket office you’ll see beautiful fresco interiors painted by Vaclav Vavrinec Reiner. The adjoining room also has a photo display setting out the various garden restoration changes through the years.
A small room up the steps behind the ticket office often hosts exhibitions, which are part of your ticket entrance fee. When we visited last time, there was a glass exhibition there and we had an opportunity to speak to the glass artist in person.
The lower courtyard also has an aviary with different types of colourful birds.
The garden is laid out in several layers – terraces and there are few hidden areas, so don’t rush and take your time exploring the garden.
There is a viewing platform at the top of the garden, where you can see the whole Prague centre below you and Prague Castle hill on your left.
Vrtba Garden – Vrtbovska Zahrada, Karmelitanska Street, Prague 1
How to get there
Take any tram to Malostranske Namesti and walk towards the Karmelitanska Street. The entrance is through the Vrtba Palace, but it looks like a regular door, so don’t miss it.
The adult ticket is 150 CZK. Children, family and OAP tickets are also available at a discounted price.
The garden is open mainly in the summer season – March – October.
The ticket office has a chilled drinks cabinet and automat style hot drinks. There are many cafe places and restaurants outside the garden on the main street and Malostranske Namesti (the Lesser Town Square), but none in the garden itself.
Toilets are located behind the main entrance.