Royal Palace (Stary Kralovsky Palác)

Royal Palace (Stary Kralovsky Palác) (34)

Prague Castle was founded in the 9th century by Prince Borijov. Since then, the buildings that make up its complex have continually increased and to the castle has been added several churches, a palace, a convent and a cathedral, among others. From its raised and strategic position it has dominated the city of Prague for centuries. Since 1918, moreover, it has housed the office of the President of the Republic and important governmental offices.

The castle grounds were fortified in the 12th century and from then on the princes of Bohemia lived in the Royal Palace. You just need to look at a plan of the building to realise that the palace is a construction with centuries of histories in its walls, since successive monarchs superimposed as many as three floors over it, and, naturally, they were in different artistic styles.

The first Romanesque palace was built around 1135 by Prince Sobeslav, but currently it has been converted into the basement of the whole building. Premysl Otakar II and Charles IV, who also had the bridge and cathedral built, ordered their own palaces to be built. The upper floor was built by Ladislav II Jagellon.

In the Hapsburg period, this palace was not only a place of residence, but also had a political role as headquarters of the government, courts and the old parliament, which at that time was called the Dieta. The Hapsburgs were in fact the last rulers to live in the palace, since they left it to go and live in the place that today are the presidential offices.

One of the most notable events in European history took place in the Old Royal Palace, known as the Defenestration of Prague.  In 1618, a group made up of one hundred Protestant nobles came to the palace to protest about the ascent to the throne of Archduke Ferdinand of Hapsburg. The two governors appointed by the archduke confronted the rebels but they certainly weren’t expecting that they would be thrown out of the window of the Chancery of Bohemia by them. The 15-metre fall could have cost them their lives, but they were lucky to fall onto a pile of manure, which broke their fall. Later on, Catholics attributed their salvation to a miracle. This incident is considered as the one that sparked the Thirty Years War.

The Royal Palace was restored in 1924 and is today open to the public.

A tour around the Palace could start in the so-called “green room”, which was formerly a courtroom and today houses a bookshop. Next, the bedroom is covered by a late-Gothic style vault.

One of the places you cannot miss is the Ladislav Hall, built at the end of the 15th century by Benedikt Riel. It occupies almost the whole floor, measuring almost 1,000 square metres and 13 metres high. It is the largest non-religious hall in the whole of Central Europe by a long stretch. It is an open space, with large windows and no columns to support the spectacular ribbed vaults in late-Gothic style. The noblemen reached the Ladislav Hall on horseback through the Riders’ Staircase.

The Chancery Room of Bohemia, where the Defenestration of Prague took place, was set alight in the fire of 1541 and was then used for administrative purposes.

Further on is the Dieta Hall, the name given to old medieval Parliament. It was originally built in the 14th century and rebuilt in 1563 by Bonifaz Wohlmut. The furniture currently on show dates from the 19th century and is a reproduction of the 17th-century furniture, which shows where the parliamentarians sat during the sessions of the Dieta.

The Chancery Room of the Imperial council or New Registries Room was used as the archive of the property registers. A small part of those old registers are still on show.

The chapel of All Saints was commissioned by Charles IV to be built by Peter Parler at the end of the 14th century. Its vault did not survive the fire of 1541 and had to be restored in Baroque style.

Your visit to the palace will have to end without seeing the lower part since it is currently closed to the public. It is a pity, since this is where the remains of the old chapel of All Saints are preserved, from the 12th century, as well as the Gothic Charles Room, the room of columns of Wenceslas IV and another, in Romanesque style, known as the Sobeslav Room.

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