Prague is beloved for its Gothic spires, but just two hours away, in the Czech Republic’s second city of Brno, an architectural landmark of no less significance awaits. Villa Tugendhat—a private residence designed in 1928 by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe—is considered one of the first Modernist houses in Europe and a precursor to the architect’s later projects, such as the Farnsworth House in Illinois and New York City’s Seagram Building. A major reconstruction was unveiled in 2012, the better to showcase the original features that turned the Tugendhat family home into an international shrine for Mies cultists. Mies’s open plan eliminated most interior load-bearing walls, resulting in a sense of free-flowing space. He added little in the way of traditional decoration; instead, the building materials (walls of onyx and macassar ebony; a grid of stainless-steel-clad columns) act as ornaments. Retractable glass windows allow for panoramic views, and the furniture—including the cantilevered Brno and Tugendhat chairs still in production today—was all custom-designed. If you can, time your visit for sundown, when the fading light sets the entire space aglow, and the villa itself illuminates the era when less became more.
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