Old Royal Palace
The Old Royal Palace in the third courtyard served as the seat of Bohemian princes and kings until the 16th century. Up to the time of the Josephian reforms, the central offices of Bohemia were concentrated here. In the 18th and the 19th centuries it was used only occasionally for coronation ceremonial events and assemblies. From 1924 it was subjected to systematic research and reconstruction by the architect Karel Fiala as a building of historical significance. In the 1960s the interiors of the Romanesque and Gothic palace were made accessible to visitors. The New Royal Palace represents the complex of buildings surrounding the first and the second courtyards. The Matthias Gate dating back to 1614 was incorporated into one of those tracts in the course of the Theresian reconstruction during the second half of the 18th century. Through the northern gate of the Second Courtyard, on your left, you can get to the Powder Bridge or Prasny most, and the Royal Garden. You will also find the entrance to the Prague Castle Picture Gallery with its great collection of the artworks collected since the reign of Rudolf II, as well as to the Imperial Stables.
Prague Castle was founded in the 9th century by the first historically documented Premyslid – prince Borivoj. Since then it has been changed significantly by a succession of famous rulers – Sobeslav I, Charles IV, Wenceslas IV and Vladislav Jagiello. The intensive building activity in the Romanesque period was associated with the time of the reign of Prince Sobeslav I.
History Of The Old Royal Palace
The Romanesque palace was constructed in the first half of the 12th century. It has been largely preserved in the basement of the present palace. Vladislav Jagello decided to rebuild this complex and invited the architect Benedikt Ried to build the Vladislav Hall in the largest secular premises in the Middle Ages, as well as the new fortification system on the southern side of the Stag Moat. The Habsburgs dynasty did not use the palace except for special occasions such as coronations, assemblies, and for government offices and depositories. During World War 2 the priceless Coronation Jewels of Bohemian kings were deposited in the Old Royal Palace to be protected against air-raids. Today the Old Royal Palace forms an inseparable part of the Prague Castle’s tours.
The Vladislav Hall represented the largest secular hall in Central Europe in the Middle Ages. It was built in the late-Gothic style at the turn of the 15th century and during the 16th century. It is 62 metres long, 16 metres wide and 13 metres high. Coronation banquets, sessions of the Diet of the Estates and even tournaments of knights took place in the Vladislav Hall. During the reign of Rudolph II, the hall was used for social events and markets at which luxurious goods and artistic articles were sold. Knights on horseback were allowed to enter the hall using the Rider’s Staircase. In the 20th century the hall was used for the elections of the presidents of Czechoslovakia, and nowadays it is used for special national or political events.
The most beautiful view of Prague is offered by the observation terrace situated on the southern side of the Vladislav Hall where we find the entrance to the Ludwig Wing. The Ludwig Wing was built in the transient Gothico-Renaissance style by the architect Benedict Ried in the years 1502-1509. This wing originally was used for residential purposes, but after the fire which occurred here in 1541, offices were set up in it. The interiors on the level of the Vladislav Hall were occupied by the Czech Chancellery, the supreme administrative office of the lands of the Czech crown. It was here where the Thirty Years´ War actually started.
Ludwig Wing was also the place of the second Prague defenestration in 1618. During the defenestration two Catholic Governors and their secretary were thrown out of the eastern window of the Ludwig Wing. They surprisingly survived only thanks to a dung heap, although some Catholics thought that it had to be the angel’s intervention. This event signalled the beginning of the revolt of the Estates and the Thirty Years’ War.
From the Vladislav Hall you could enter the Old Diet where the state assemblies took place. The throne was the seat of the ruler, with the archbishop sat on his right, and behind him the benches of the prelates. The supreme provincial clerks and judges sat along the walls and benches for noblemen and kinghts were siturated at the front. The Royal towns‘ representatives could only stand by the window.
The Theresian Wing was built as a walled tract between the Ludwig Wing and the Institute of Gentlewoman. It served as housing the office registers and was also used for residential purposes. Nowadays it is used as an exhibition hall for creative art.
All Saints’ Church
All Saints’ Church, consecrated to All Saints, was built by well known Petr Parléř in the 1370s and commissioned by Jan Očko of Vlašim. After the great fire in 1541 only some peripheral walls remained. It was renovated in the Renaissance style after 1580 and connected with the Vladislav Hall. The church is only open to the public during religious services or concerts. The interior of the chapel can be viewed from the gallery accessible from the Vladislav Hall.