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St. Mary's Garden

St. Mary's Garden (2007), DVD, 117 min, CZ/EN, Dolby Digital 2.0
Director: Milos Sejn
Screenplay, text: Jaromír Gottlieb
This project is cofinanced by European Union and Kralovehradecky Region.
Project partners: Občanské sdružení Staré Hrady, Valdštejnova zahrada, Sdružení Český ráj
Published by Cluster of Municipalities St. Marys Garden in the cooperation with Regional Museum and Gallery in Jicin, e-mail:

Extract from text by Jaromír Gottlieb:

Landscape like Garden

At the turn of 16th and 17th century, Frantisek Josef Schlik began to change the landscape of his demesne into an entity of interlinked landscape features which had a practical as well as a spiritual meaning. No place, be it a field, path junction, chateau, church, pilgrimage chapel, village common, forest backwater or water spring, was to be omitted. Life on holiday as well as at everyday work, the representation of the majesty and the everyday life of common village citizens, everything becomes one world deserving beauty, harmony, mystique, sense. High above that is Loreta, the holy place of the Virgin Mary towards which landscape lines aim from the places where the inhabitants of the landscape live.
Kopidlno and Stare Hrady as ancient chateau centres in the southern part of the demesne were joined by Jicineves and Voksice, new centres built in the northern part after 1700. The principle of the landscape formation of this type is therefore not to buildi one large centre which governs the entire space, but to provide each location with its own dominant.
Three Schlikian buildings, Loreta, Jicineves Chateau and Voksice Chateau, can thus be perceived as the node junctions of this baroque landscape composition and the intersections of their landscape lines. Even though the forest corridors have become overgrown and the historical alleys have disappeared, their ancient connections are still distinct and wonderfully tie together places on the opposite sides of the Velis Ridge.
If you wish, you can enter the garden which, due to its numerous church buildings, was dedicated to Virgin Mary and the cult of motherhood, named Marianska zahrada and which offers more reminiscence, intuition and questions than apparent facts and responses.

Loneliness. Silence. Shadow. Cross a dark forest, where the surface of water brightens in the sun. And darkness again. A spring is dancing among rocks. An old, heathen place of worship? Shapes of chapels – it is all about them – twinkle in visors as shy animals.
They become set and they are not even breathing.
They are waiting for this moment.
A man is coming.

A baroque song from a collection The Little Nightingale of Paradise by Jan Josef Božan. Words talks about virtues of Virgin Mary and it is a prayer for her favor at the beginning of summer.

The Garden of Virgin Mary is a network or looks like a network, maybe a spiritual network, which lies on the whole landscape. That means that it covers villages, fields, meadows but also forests and it fastens them together. There are many traces from a baroque area that show which forest paths, ways and crossroads connected human seats. And I think it is beautiful that they are only small, relatively, because they are not big and huge buildings which would show this connection. But they are small buildings which bless the landscape on village greens or on crossroads in fields but also forests, forest chapels.

The possibility is to study the history, but not typically because sometimes even remembrances of chroniclers or personal observes are meaningful and humane. We can reenact ways to a chapel thanks to old pilgrimadge songs. People remember something and they say it to their grandchildren. It is a proof that the place they live in is important. And I think that people will always be happy that this place is not only one house and one garden but community. And this community is big and long way off. The picture – a vista of the Schlik landscape shows that it is a realy big place. A painter, when he was drawing the picture, knew its composition as a garden connected by alleys, crossroads, chapels, crosses and baroque statues.
If inhabitants of The Garden of Virgin Mary would like to continue in this heritage then there is a new dimension of their future. The heritage of the Schlik landscape is not: produce things!, educate yourselves!, live normal lives! but remember beauty and spirituality. Do not separate a place of productions, a place of celebration and somewhere else a tip or a place where we will be in a hurry. Everything is a world which must be as a world and a garden closely connected. Maybe it is because here we do not have castes, there is not the lowest landscape where people would feel a strong dislike to go to. And I think it is helpful to have a spiritual background everywhere in the landscape.

If the Garden of Virgin Mary has a centre it is a chapel Loreta which is built at the second highest place 425 metres above the sea. Forest paths, like crosses, lead to cardinal points so Loreta connects the region and its inhabitants who could watch it and meet there. Loreta is connected with other buildings and it seems that its purpose is recognisable up today.The wealth is neverending: from basalt hills, abandoned quarries and ravines. Cross wide valleys and forests. It is a garden which has its gardener. A human hand is very important here but it is not the one which masters everything but the one which needs to feel the harmony among flowers, man and animals and among people themselves. So it is very simple. Many visitors can think that there is nothing special. But it seems that the importance of the chain of events, which lead to concentration, to the thought that a man sometimes must abandon the others, must be alone; to knowledge – if there are several stoppages and then the top of a journey – that the meaning of things, which are not loud, which are not admired, which are not repeated, is hidden, but also a hidden chapel in the forest, which has always been hidden, can help this text.

The Garden of Virgin Mary is a large area of almost 100 square kilometres and it lies south of Jičín, over Veliš hill to Kopidlno town. This region that belonged to Schlik family. There are four chateaux, one town and thirty eight municipalities. It seems that it does not have its centre, a big city or a square. It would be strange that if it has a centre. It is on the top of a hill in a forest where Loreta lies. Loreta, a very small building, must have a big potencial to be understood as a centre. An architect Jean Babtiste Mathey managed this – by giving Loreta a central position – there are forest paths in a shape of a cross leading to cardinal points and they connect the landscape and its parts. Valleys on the opposite sides of Veliš hill that could not see each other have their vanishing point in Loreta. A gallery was created there with a beautiful view on the roof of Loreta. It is possible to see a big part of Bohemia from this terrace – Bezděz, Ještěd, Sněžka, Kuněticka mountain, Vysoké – a very important place and if it was not a chapel it could be a look-out tower. But it is not a look-out tower because there is an altar of Virgin Mary and there are vases around the gallery. It is a quiet place in the middle of the landscape which is the garden because it is cultured.
Municipalities, and their inhabitants, decided to get together and they founded Municipalites of the Garden of Virgin Mary. It is important not to stop development, to live in a modern way but to keep in mind to make right things which have been unsettled.
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