Arcadia: Dornava Manor and the Grand Baroque Axis

Et in Arcadia ego … Baroque style – fodder for the masses, as the poet wrote – was both flamboyant and organized; countering the austere and sombre Reformation and celebrating the power of humans over Nature.

While sacral Baroque architecture and art went berserk soon – losing itself in excesses of the Rococco – houses, manors and especially gardens of the time retained some sense of Grand Order, with intricate geometric designs, leading lines, extending toward horizons. Arcadia – but made and maintained by humans.

Thus behold the largest extant Baroque manor architectural ensemble in Slovenia: Dornava Manor near Ptuj:

Dornava – Ad Turnava, from Thurn, a castle tower – is a small village near Ptuj, in the middle of the fertile Drava plain between Drava and Pesnica rivers.

As the name suggests, there was an early castle here, and we know that the Herberstein family from Ptuj had a small manor that burned down in 1695. The renowned Attems family bought the land in 1730 and built a larger manor in 1739-1743, with exquisite gardens in the high Baroque style.

The central feature of a Baroque garden is the main axis extending from the main building in both directions. At Dornava Manor the original axis was almost a mile long. A tree-lined avenue with elaborate statues leads to the grand entrance.

The manor itself is a three-storied building, flanked with two pavillions, creating a U shaped central courtyard, beyond which the gardens extend towards the Pesnica river.

A fountain of Neptune dominates the courtyard, and the gardens extend in a straight line way up to the forest at Pesnica river. There were intricate flowerbeds, garden paths and sculptures, of which few remain today.

The Manor changed hands many times, and after the World War II went into disrepair, as the new regime didn’t held castles and manors in high esteem. The premises were used as headquarters of a tank brigade and later as an asylum for mentally ill children.

Today the large achitectural ensemble of Dornava Manor is mantained just so it doesn’t crumble. A full renovation is way over the means of the municipality or even the Ministry of culture, so the manor awaits better times (and wealthier investors)

Waiting for Arcadia to emerge again.

All kite aerial photos shot with Nikon P330 – on a brand new Dr.Agon D90 BW Mini kite, a delta designed for stronger winds!

A new KAP kite – dr.agon D90 BW Mini!

Leave a comment