The history of Villa Tugendhat is closely linked to the urban development around Lužánky Park – the oldest publicly accessible urban park in the Czech Republic. On the site where the villa stands today, there were vineyards and orchards that were loosely connected to Lužánky Park around 1850.
Chaise longue view (1929/1930)Villa Tugendhat
Just 10 years later, in 1860, the first Brno villa colony began to develop on this slope. At that time, the locality was nicknamed Belvedere, an Italian term meaning ‘beautiful view’.
As part of further building development, in 1903–1904 the Brno manufacturer Moritz Fuhrmann had a villa built at 22 Drobného Street according to the design of the Viennese architect Alexander Neumann. In 1913, this villa was bought by the industrialist Alfred Löw-Beer.
Fifteen years later, his daughter Greta (1903–1970) was gifted a plot of land in the upper part of the Löw-Beer Villa garden as a wedding present on her marriage to Fritz Tugendhat (1895–1958), and they subsequently had their own family villa
The newlywed Tugendhats chose the then world-famous German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886–1969) as the architect of their family home. Mies first visited the plot in September 1928 and presented the first drafts of the house to the family for the first time in December of the same year.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Travertine staircase detail (1929/1930)Villa Tugendhat
The construction commenced in mid-1929, the house received the occupancy permit on 1st December 1930. The coauthors of the design were Lilly Reich and Sergius Ruegenberg. The construction was implemented by the Brno construction company of brothers Mořic and Artur Eisler.
The Tugendhats were only able to enjoy their family villa for eight years, until 1938, when political developments and the rise of Nazism in Central Europe forced them to emigrate to Switzerland.
"We loved the house from the very first moment. (...) When we were alone we would normally sit in the library, but when friends came to visit we also liked to spend the evening in front of the glass wall lit from behind, which produced a beautifully mild light."
Grete Tugendhat, 1969
Entrance saloon by night (1929/1930)Villa Tugendhat
World War II
Since 1938, Villa Tugendhat has experienced some of the darkest moments in its history. The villa was confiscated by the Gestapo as early as the beginning of October 1939 and threatened with either radical reconstruction or even demolition. In 1942, the house became the property of the German Reich. The villa suffered serious damage at the end of World War II during the liberation of Brno which was documented not only by witnesses‘ testimonies, but also by a report on the condition of the house from the summer of 1945.
From August 1945 to 1950, Professor Karla Hladká ran a private dance school in the villa. The house subsequently became the property of the Czechoslovak state and a rehabilitation centre for children with spinal defects was established there, which was housed there until 1979.
The beginning of the 1960’s was the moment when discussions began about the use of Villa Tugendhat, its conservation and restoration to its original state. The initiator of these discussions was the Brno architect, František Kalivoda. His efforts culminated in the inscription of Villa Tugendhat on the list of cultural building monuments in 1963. In addition to Greta Tugendhat, Kalivoda also involved the Chicago studio of Mies and the garden architect Grete Roder Müller in the discussion.
It was at Kalivoda‘s invitation that Greta Tugendhat came to Brno in 1969, she visited Villa Tugendhat with her daughter Daniela and subsequently gave a lecture about the house in Czech at the Brno House of Arts.
In 1980, the villa was transferred to the property of the City of Brno, which decided to restore it. The building, which was in a very poor technical condition at that time, was renovated with the intention of turning it into a representative building of the city. Since the completion of the renovation in 1985, Villa Tugendhat has also become a venue for political meetings. The most famous of these took place in 1992, when the then prime ministers Václav Klaus and Vladimír Mečiar agreed in the garden on the division of Czechoslovakia.
Villa Tugendhat garden: Summer (1929/1930)Villa Tugendhat
On 1 July 1994, the City of Brno entrusted the villa to the Brno City Museum, which opened the building to the public as an installed monument of modern architecture
UNESCO World heritage list inscription
In 1995 The villa was first granted the status of a national cultural monument and then declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 16 December 2001.
With the growing importance and interest in the villa, there were also growing calls from foreign and domestic experts for the restoration of the villa, which eventually took place in 2010–2012. The villa was restored to its original 1930’s appearance. The ceremonial reopening took place on 29 February 2012.