Villa Tugendhat is a historical building in the wealthy neighbourhood of Černá Pole in Brno, Czech Republic. It is one of the pioneering prototypes of modern architecture in Europe, and was designed by the German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Built of reinforced concrete between 1928-1930 for Fritz Tugendhat and his wife Greta, the villa soon became an icon of modernism.
The free-standing three-story Villa Tugendhat is situated on a sloped terrain and faces to the south-west. The second story, the ground floor consists of the main living and social areas with the conservatory and the terrace as well as the kitchen with facilities along with the servants' rooms. The third story, the first floor, has the main entrance from the street with a passage to the terrace, the entrance hall, the rooms for the parents, children and the nanny with appropriate facilities. The chauffeur's flat with the garages and the terrace are accessible separately.
Villa Tugendhat was commissioned by Jewish factory-owner Fritz Tugendhat on land he received as a wedding present from his in-laws. The construction company of Artur and Mořic Eisler began with the construction of the house in the summer of the year 1929 and completed it in fourteen months. Fritz and Greta Tugendhat, who were Jewish, enjoyed just eight years in Tugendhat before fleeing Czechoslovakia with their children in 1938 (including philosopher Ernst Tugendhat), shortly before the country was dismembered following the Munich Agreement. They lived in Switzerland and never returned. The house was confiscated by the Gestapo in 1939 and next used as an apartment and office; its interior was senselessly modified and many pieces disappeared.
Greta Tugendhat returned to the villa in 1967 with a senior architect from Mies's Chicago studio and filled him in on the original design, and a group of Czech architects set out to fix up the place. It was inscribed on the National List of Cultural Heritage in 1969 and restored after 1980. In 1992 the political leaders of Czechoslovakia met there to sign the document that formally divided the country into the present separate states of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Since 1994 the villa has been open to the public as a museum administered by the city of Brno.
In 1993 the Villa Tugendhat Fund and Friends of Tugendhat were formed to preserve the house. In 1995 Brno received a $15,000 grant to pay for preliminary research from the Samuel H. Kress European Preservation Program, part of the World Monuments Fund. Then the International Music and Art Foundation, based in Lichtenstein, got involved, pledging $100,000, because a trustee, Nicholas Thaw, was also a trustee of the World Monuments Fund. The Robert Wilson Foundation matched the $100,000. Villa Tugendhat was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001.