One of the most beautiful, and the most monumental example of Prague Baroque architecture, Czernin Palace or Černínský palác is situated in the Loretanske Square just opposite the Loreto Church. It used to belong to the noble family Czernin of Chudenice, one of the oldest noble families in Bohemia. According to the legend the name Czernin might be derived from the word “černý” (black). Black as the black fireplace where a small boy from a noble family was hidden while his entire family was murdered.
Construction of the Czernin Palace lasted many years. The building works were started in 1668 after the project overseen by the Italian architect Francesco Caratti. A substantial part of family funds was spent on building and decorating the palace. After finishing the palace it served as a famous picture gallery. Since then the palace has had its “ups and downs”. It was looted by the French and Bavarian armies in 1742. Reconstruction followed in the years 1744-1749, and was carried out under the direction of the architect Anselmo Lurago who cooperated with the sculptor František Ignac Platzer and the stuccoer Bernardo Spinetti. The most beautiful part of the palace are 30 massive Corinthian half-columns running the length of the upper stories of the palace. The main hall of the palace is three floors high.
After The 18th Century
The palace was severely damaged by the Prussian bombardement in 1757 and it had to be repaired by Jan Antonin Quittainer. In the mid-18th century the members of Czernin family started to loose their interest in this palace – as they moved their seat to Vienna. The palace remained abandoned and then began to serve as a hospital, factory, storehouse etc. In 1848, the building was sold to the army, converted into barracks and subsequently fell into a considerable state of disrepair. Extensive reconstruction was not carried out until the first half of the 20th century when the building was modified by the architect Pavel Janák for the use by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Czernin Palace Today
Czernin Palace now serves as the seat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and visited by presidents, ministers of foreign affairs and other prominent people from all over the world. It’s been the office of ministers of foreign affairs of the former Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. Czernin Palace is not opened to the public – with the exception of special occasions.
Jan Masaryk’s Death
Minister of foreign affairs, Jan Masaryk, the son of the Czechoslovakia’s first President, Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, died as a result of a fall from the top-floor window of Czernin Palace. It happened after the Communist Coup in 1948. It has not been successfully resolved up to now whether he committed a suicide or if he was murdered.