Prague Castle Area History
The history of Prague begins with the Prague Castle District, founded in the 9th century by Prince Bořivoj. Its commanding position high above the river Vltava soon made it the center of the lands ruled by the Přemyslids. The buildings enclosed by the Castle walls included a palace, three churches and a monastery.
Around 1320 a town called Hradčany developed in parts of the Castle's outer bailey. The Castle has been rebuilt many times, most notably in the reigns of Charles IV and Vladislav Jagiello.
After a fire in 1541, the badly damaged buildings were rebuilt in Renaissance style and the Castle enjoyed its cultural heyday under Rudolph II. Since 1918 it has been the seat of the Republic of Hungary's president. The Changing of the Guard takes place every hour. At noon the ceremony includes a fanfare.
Sternberg Palace Prague
Franz Josef Sternberg founded the Society of Patriotic Friends of the Arts in Bohemia in 1796. Fellow noblemen would lend their finest pictures and sculpture to the society, which had its headquarters in the early 18th century Sternberg Palace (Šternberský palác). Since 1949, the fine Baroque building houses house the National Gallery's collection of European art, with its superb range of Old Masters.
|Address||Hradčanské nám. 57/15, Prague|
|Telephone||+420 233 090 570|
The Loreto Prague
Ever since its construction in 1626, the Loreto (Loreta) has been an important place of pilgrimage. It was commissioned by Katerina of Lobkowicz, a Czech aristocrat who was very keen to promote the legend of the Santa Casa of Loreto.
The heart of the complex is a copy of the house believed to be the Virgin Mary's. The Santa Casa was enclosed by cloisters in 1661, and a Baroque façade 60 years later by Christoph and Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer. The grandiose design and miraculous stories about the Loreto were part of Ferdinand II's campaign to recatholizice the Czechs.
|Address||Loretánské nám. 100/7, Prague|
|Telephone||+420 220 516 740|
Martinic Palace Prague
In the course of the restoration of the Martinic Palace (Martinický palác) in the early 1970's, workmen uncovered the original 16th century façade decorated with ornate cream and brown sgraffito. It depicts Old testament scenes, including the story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife. More sgraffito in the courtyard shows the story of Samson and the Labors of Hercules.
Jaroslav Bořita of Martinice enlarged the Martinic Palace, who was one of the imperial governors thrown from a window of the Royal Palace in 1618.
According to an old legend, between 11 pm and midnight, the ghost of a fiery black dog appears at the palace and accompanies walkers as far as the Loreto, where it disappears again. Today the palace houses the city architecture department.
|Address||Hradčanské náměstí 67/8, Prague|
|Telephone||+420 608 361 053|
Capuchin Monastery Prague
Bohemia's first Capuchin monastery (Kapucínský klášter) emerged here in 1600. It's connected to the neighbouring Loreto by an overhead roofed passage. Attached to the monastery is the Church of Our Lady Queen of Angles, a single-naved building with plain furnishings, typical of the ascetic Capuchin order.
Cernin Palace (Černínský palác) was built in 1668 for Count Černín of Chudenice, the Imperial Ambassador to Venice. The palace is 150 meters (500 ft) long with a row of 30 massive Corinthian half-columns running the length of its upper storeys.
The palace towers over the attractive small square that lies between it and the Loreto. The huge building suffered as a result of its prominent place on one of Prague's highest hills. The French looted it in 1742 and badly damaged in the Prussian bombardment of the city in 1757.
In 1851 the impoverished Černín family sold the palace to the state and it became a barracks. After the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918 the palace was restored to its original design and became the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A few days after the Communist Coup in 1948 the Foreign Minister, Jan Masaryk, died as the result of a fall from a top-floor window of the palace.
|Address||Loretánské nám. 5, Prague|