Tugendhat Villa: Cultural Center, Tourist Destination, and World Heritage Site in the Czech Republic

by DerdriuMarriner

Villa Tugendhat is not even 100 years old. It owes UNESCO World Heritage status to its pioneering architecture. It also serves as a popular cultural venue and tourist destination.

Villa Tugendhat communicates what it is: the upper-class Tugendhat family’s country house. But it otherwise epitomizes what is unexpected in life.
• For example, the combination of the Italian word with the German name gives no geographical clue as to its location in the present-day Czech Republic.
• The building’s classification as a rural mansion for wealthy residents harbors no architectural warning of the functional modernism of its configuration.

The authenticity of the furnishings and furniture hides history’s tragedies of:
• Politicians approving annexations to a sovereign state’s detriment;
• Residents becoming exiles in Switzerland and Venezuela;
• Secret police emptying and modifying interiors.

The deep truths behind preservation make Villa Tugendhat’s availability for cultural events and visitor tours even more compelling.


Villa Tugendhat
Černopolní 45
613 00 Brno
Czech Republic

E-mail: info@tugendhat.eu
Telephone: +420 515 511 015 or +420 515 511 016
Website: www.tugendhat.eu


Špilberk Castle (lower center): Gothic Romanesque 13th century castle on hilltop is a Brno landmark located about 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) southwest of Villa Tugendhat.

Park Lužánky, located less than 0.3 miles (0.5 kilometers) west of Villa Tugendhat, is green area in upper right.
aerial photo of Špilberk Castle in Brno
aerial photo of Špilberk Castle in Brno


The ancient city of Brno and its environs delight residents and visitors of the Czech Republic’s South Moravian Region with such landmarks as:

  • Brno Exhibition Centre;
  • Brno Ossuary;
  • Brno Planetarium;
  • Cabbage Market;
  • Capuchin Monastery;
  • Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul;
  • Janaček, Mahen, and Reduta Theatres;
  • Masaryk Circuit;
  • Masaryk University;
  • Old Town Hall;
  • Red Church;
  • Špilberk Castle;
  • Veveří Castle on the River Svratka.

They draw wildlife-lovers to such landforms as;

  • Balcarka, Kateřinská, Punkva, Sloupsko-Šošůvské, and Výpustek Caves;
  • Brno Reservoir;
  • Brno Zoological Gardens;
  • Denisovy Sady and Lužánky Parks;
  • Macocha Abyss.

But the city’s most iconic site is Villa Tugendhat, respective recipient of National List of Cultural Heritage and UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1969 and 2001.


street level view of Villa Tugendhat

ulice Černopolní (Cernopolni Street)
ulice Černopolní (Cernopolni Street)


The moneyed neighborhood of Černá Pole (Schwarzstrasse, "Black-field") acts as the physical address for Villa Tugendhat. The residential section historically appeals to residents because of its location on one of Brno’s picturesque hills. The villa in fact claims many of the neighborhood’s most spectacular views of the city and the landscape. Street access draws upon the home’s top-most floor. It gives no idea of the enormity of:

  • The 27,986.17 square feet (2,600 square meters) of total structural area apportioned over three levels and built into a southwest-facing, steep slope;
  • The 21,527.82 square feet (2,000 square meters) of total land bordering the property of in-laws, serving as a wedding gift, and supporting a meadow’s herbaceous and woody plants.  


view of south face of Villa Tugendhat from sweeping lawn slope

Černá Pole, northeastern Brno, southeastern Czech Republic
Černá Pole, northeastern Brno, southeastern Czech Republic


The north, street-level entrance to the flat-roofed, white-walled structure #45 accesses the top-most floor with:

  • Balcony/terrace for child car-driving, sandbox-playing, and skating;
  • Chauffeur Gustav Lössl’s (1904 – 1941?) quarters;
  • Electric eye-controlled fencing;
  • Family’s bath (child, master) and bedrooms (Fritz [1895 - 1958], Greta [1903 - 1970], Ernst [born 1930] and Herbert [1933 - 1980], and Hanna [1924 - 1991];
  • Nanny Irene Kalkofen’s (1909 – 2004) bedroom;
  • Two-car garage.

The middle floor accommodates:

  • Conservatory, dining, living, library/study, music room, reception, winter garden;
  • Kitchen, pantry, storeroom;
  • Maid's quarters;
  • Terrace.

The bottom-most floor acts as:

  • Boiler room for cooling, humidifying, warming;
  • Cellar for fruits and vegetables;
  • Dark room for Fritz’s amateur film-making and picture-taking;
  • Laundry room;
  • Storage for fur coats;
  • Tool closet.


kitchen in Villa Tugendhat

Villa Tugendhat: interior
Villa Tugendhat: interior


The Löw-Beer Villa can be considered a family home for Grete, older brother Max Alfred (1902 – 1954), and younger brother Hans (1911 – 1993). It still can be viewed at #22:

  • On what is now Drobného Street, but was then Sadová-Parkstrasse;
  • Proximitous to #26, the villa built in 1862 by Ingolstadt-born German engineer and stonemason Josef Arnold (1824 – 1887) and reconfigured architecturally into Art Deco and Art Nouveau in 1909 – 1915 by Alfred’s sister Cecílie and her husband, Brno lawyer and Maloměřice Cement Works co-owner Kornelius Hože (died 1936).

It was designed by Heinzendorf-born Austrian architect Alexander Neumann (1861 – 1947) for textile industrialist Moritz Fuhrmann (1850 – 1910). It was purchased from Moritz’s sons in 1913 by Grete’s father.


Street level: behind curving glass is an internal staircase.

street level access to Villa Tugendhat
street level access to Villa Tugendhat


All stories claim;

  • Brick masonry, concrete bases and walls, reinforced ceilings, and steel column construction;
  • Cedar chip- and sea salt-cleaned air;
  • Ceiling-to-floor doors;
  • Internal stairway access.

They face a sloping lawn:

  • Adorned with garden roses and old trees;
  • Crisscrossed by trails for winter skiing and sledding;
  • Enriched by previous uses as a park and a vineyard.

But the middle level has particularly exceptional views -- through 16.40- x 11.48-foot (5- x 3.5-meter) roll-down/roll-up windows -- of the Art Nouveau-style mansion of #45’s neighbors to the south, Alfred Löw-Beer (1872 – 1939) and Marianne Wiedmann (1882 - ?). It indeed is thanks to Grete’s parents giving the deed and paying all expenses (5,000,000 crowns today) that Villa Tugendhat exists.


sitting room before winter garden: two chairs with buckled straps (foreground), specifically designed for the villa, are known as Tugendhat chairs, combining elements of Brno and Barcelona chairs designed by Mies van der Rohe and Lily Reich.

Villa Tugendhat: interior
Villa Tugendhat: interior


Despite her father’s Art Nouveau predilections, Grete chose Aachen-born German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886 – 1969) as Villa Tugendhat’s designer. Despite Grete’s preferences for his hard-burned brick-styled Wolf House of 1925 – 1927 in Gubin, Mies constructed the world’s first-known steel-supported residence. He consulted Berlin-born German designer Lilly Reich (1885 – 1947) and St. Petersburg-born Russian architect Sergius Ruegenberg (1903 – 1996) about:

  • Furnishings from hand-woven natural wool rugs, Persian carpets, shantung and velvet curtains;
  • Furniture of glass, strip and tubular steel, wicker, wood (pear-wood, rosewood, zebra-wood) with leather, sheepskin, velvet upholsteries.  

He drew upon:

  • Artur and Mořic Eisler Construction Company;
  • Bamberg Metallwerkstätten;
  • Berliner Metallwerke Josef Müller;
  • Deutsche Linoleum-Werke;
  • Garden architect Markéta Roderová-Müllerová (1898 – 1981);
  • Standard Flat Company.


natural dynamism of onyx wall: oxide mineral's partial transparency induces changes in appearance vis-à-vis sunlight

Villa Tugendhat: interior
Villa Tugendhat: interior



Visitors sometimes ask whether Villa Tugendhat is a homey house or a wannabe office.  The building’s elegant functionalism can go either way. But it epitomizes Mies’s definition of a house as harmonizing:

  • Construction materials;
  • Geographic location;
  • Solar positioning;
  • Spatial configuration.

Its quintessential homeyness has as its most conversation-, nature-, and people-friendly expressions:

  • Glazed milk, Makassar ebony, and white-veined onyx delimitations of dining, living, and study spaces;
  • Intriguing frontage in a historic neighborhood of mansions and parks;
  • Magnificent exposures to and views of moon, stars, and sun;
  • Southward orientation toward gardens for sniffing, lawns for traversing, and terraces for unwinding.

What made it a one-of-a-kind dwelling indeed makes Villa Tugendhat an unforgettable venue for culture- and history-seeking guests.




My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources. 


Villa Tugendhat- Mies van der Rohe & Philip Glass

Published on YouTube on May 14, 2012 by GI Joe ~ URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sD-0kEWHqA

Sources Consulted


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Hammer-Tugendhat, Daniela; and Tegethoff, Wolf. (Eds.). 2000. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: The Tugendhat House. Vienna, Austria; and New York, NY: Springer.

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"The Löw-Beer Industrialists." Villa Tugendhat: . Retrieved October 4, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.tugendhat.eu/en/the-low-beer-industrialists.html

MacCarthy, Fiona. 2 November 2012. "The Glass Room Restored." The Guardian: Culture > Books > Fiction. Retrieved October 4, 2014.

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Norberg-Schulz, Christian. 1984. Casa Tugendhat Brno. Rome, Italy: Officina Edizioni.

The Observer. 6 April 2012. "Villa Tugendhat, Brno, Czech Republic -- in Pictures." The Guardian: U.S. Edition > Culture > Art & Design > Architecture. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved October 4, 2014.

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Tegethoff, Wolf. 1985. Mies van der Rohe, the Villas and Country Houses. New York, NY: The Museum of Modern Art.

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Tugendhat, Ernst. 27 December 2006. "Whom to Thank?" Translated by John Lambert from the article in German in Neue Zürcher Zeitung of 9 December 2006. SignandSight: Let's Talk European edited by Thierry Chervel and Anja Seeliger. Retrieved October 4, 2014.

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von Vegesack, Alexander; and Kries, Matthias. (Intro.). 1998. Mies van der Rohe: Architecture and Design in Stuttgart, Barcelona, Brno, a Vitra Design Museum Exhibition in Collaboration with the Weissenhof Institut at the Staatliche Akademie der bildenden Kunste, Stuttgart, and the Fundació Mies van der Rohe, Barcelona. Weil, Germany: Vitra Design Museum; Geneva, Switzerland: Skira Editore.


southeast view of Villa Tugendhat from street

Villa Tugendhat in December
Villa Tugendhat in December
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: The Tugendhat House by Daniela Hammer-Tugendhat and Wolf Tegethoff

Presents previously unpublished photographs belonging to the Tugendhat family. These show the house as it was when it was first lived in.
Tugendhat-themed books

Mies Van Der Rohe: black t-shirt ~ Available via Allposters

Mies Van Der Rohe
Ad AllPosters

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 10/04/2014, DerdriuMarriner
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