BERTRAMKA: A BRUSH WITH THE PAST
So often the little accidental “finds” in foreign places make memories special.
That’s what happened in Prague, on the final two days of a three-week trip through Central Europe.
It was just up the hill from the hotel we were staying at on the western bank of the River Vltava.
Impatient to see everything possible in the last day, we suddenly found ourselves absorbing the history of Bertramka. It was a gracious home dating back to the 18th century and said to be where Mozart finished composing his most famous opera, Don Giovanni.
That was in 1787 yet the accuracy of the story is sketchy.
So, in the soft mist of an early October day we decided to make the most of the final day of the 2016 performance tour by the Sunshine Coast Oriana Choir through Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and now the Czech Republic.
Some of the choir had already left Prague … to return home, to go on to other adventures.
The group was dwindling.
The path up the hill was fairly steep, especially with the slippery cobbled footpath.
Yet to explore the rambling Bertramka villa and grounds provided a good insight into how nations such as the Czechs are adapting to being in the European Union, shaking off the restrictions and the maladies from decades of living under communism as one of the Iron Curtain countries.
Volunteers have created a fascinating museum on a shoestring budget.
It’s a “who lived here” house. Visit, imagine, and soak up the atmosphere.
Look around at the unkempt grounds, listen.
It is something of a sanctuary surrounded by the sound of a world city emerging for a new day.
Bertramka is a place where you can sit and wonder. Where you can hear a bird singing against the sigh of the trees.
One can just imagine the prior uses of this grand old house.
Originally a vineyard estate from the end of the 17th century, it was named after one of its owners, F. Bertramský.
The homestead was rebuilt in a Classicist style in the 18th century.
Yet its fortunes have risen and declined through the years.
Most notably, in recent times exhibits have been removed due to disputes between competing Mozart museums.
While many of the important things have been taken there is still the sala terrena facing the grounds that contain a fountain and a bust of Mozart.
Rest at the stone table on the higher part of the grounds and contemplate what it must have been like for him, sitting there at that time, in that place.
His presence is strongly felt here. Tranquil, peaceful and inspiring.
Now, as a museum rescued from ruin by volunteers, it’s the fitting end to a tour of Central Europe. And it’s recent turmoil, calmed for now.
NOTE: As of January 2019 Prague.eu, the official web site of Prague, lists Bertramka as:
“The building is closed due to reconstruction.”
Meanwhile Bertramka.eu, the official web site of Bertramka, lists it as:
Villa Bertramka is closed for renovation of the staircase. Only visits of large groups that make a prior request can be arranged.