Samuel von Brukenthal (1721, Nocrich – 1803, Sibiu) was the Habsburg governor of the Grand Principality of Transylvania between July 6, 1774 and January 9, 1787. He was a baron of the Holy Roman Empire, and personal adviser of Empress Maria Theresa. A passionate art collector, he built a palace in Sibiu, where in 1817 was arranged, according to his will, the first public museum in southeastern Europe.
The summer residence of Baron, the Brukenthal Summer Palace is located in Avrig, at 30 km from Sibiu. It was built between 1780 and 1785 in Baroque style, on the model of the Viennese Schönbrunn castle. The baron used to keep here his collection consisting of 212 paintings, and 129 engravings. Today these are in the museum of Sibiu.
The U-shaped baroque style palace has a central section and two wings, opening to an axial symmetrical garden. The palace has a ground-floor, one storey, a majestic staircase with several levels. During baron Brukenthal's life-time, the main hall was decorated with murals, there also were paintings and engravings gathered by him all over the palace.
The palace has one of the most beautiful parks, located 12 m below the palace and organized in wide terraces descending to the Olt River meadow. On the east side is the English garden, arranged in a natural way, with large grassy areas, unique trees, paths, halting places and a natural water fall. The central area was modeled on the French gardens, with fountains, central stairs, with lateral walkways, vases, benches, stone statues, greenhouses, an orangery. The Dutch gardens were full of flowers, vegetables and spices, such as pineapple, lemon, coffee and cardamom. The Baron integrate into the garden an agricultural farm - and was famous for his white buffaloes, sold even in Naples. It deserves to be restored as it is the only garden of a Baroque palace in Romania which has been preserved almost entirely.
At 70 years after the death of Samuel von Brukenthal, the line of inheritance of the family finished. His properties have passed through many owners until 1908, when - according to his will, came into possession of Sibiu Lutheran Parish. The Evangelical Church founded here a sanatorium. After WWII, the hospital was nationalized and used as a sanatorium. After the fall of Communism, the summer residence was returned to the German minority, by the Brukenthal Foundation. It took over responsibility for the maintenance and care of the palace and park in the spirit of Brukenthal, and to keep the cultural heritage of this remarkable Transylvanian Saxon.
Photos from Jurnal Românesc and Welcome to Romania.
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