Latitude / Longitude: 50.09150, 14.40382
The Lobkowicz Palace situated as it is within the enormous area which is Prague Castle is a magnificent 16th century edifice built for the Czech nobleman Jaroslav of Pernstejn after whom it was originally named. A guy of no small ego but possessing exceptional wealth he commissioned the project to boost his standing and prestige among the nobility of middle Europe. Not that long after his death the niece of Jaroslav married into the Lobkovicz dynasty and the First Prince of Lobkowicz, not one for underestimating his importance either, asked his new wife Polyxena for the rights to the palace. Not having much choice she complied and so it was that from 1583 onwards it was referred to as the Lobkowicz Palace. Jaroslav had a brother also and it was he along with the Spanish noblewoman whom he married who were the ones who rescued the soon-to-be-very-famous Infant of Prague statue from being thrown away and or lost and carrying it to the safety of Prague. For many years it was kept in the Lobkowicz Palace for safe-keeping.
Events which are imprinted in the very fabric of Prague history continued to happen in and around the Palace as the decades slipped by. For example it was in 1618 that the famous Defenestration of Prague occured from the windows of the building close-by. By virtue of incredible good luck these Catholic Imperial ministers whom the exasperated Protestants had thrown out landed softly if a little unpleasantly in an enormous pile of horse dung. Not sticking around to brush themselves down and compose themselves they dashed to the Lobkovicz Palace for shelter from the storm so to speak. This event of the Defenestration is widely accepted as the spark that set flame to the terrible and lengthy Thirty Years War. During that dark period of European and Prague history when much of the city was damaged by cannon and by deliberate fire the palace itself led a charmed life and came through it relatively unscathed. Once the Battle of White Mountain on the outskirts of Prague brought inevitable defeat and surrender to the Protestant rebels the Lobkovicz and their wider family returned to their palace and consolidated their base within it.
And so it was to be for the next 300 years almost that a Prince Lobkovicz inhabited this beautiful building. Needless to say innumerable changes and renovations have occured down the years but by and large the core of the palace is unchanged. The most splendid room of the Lobkowicz Palace is the banqueting hall with mythological frescoes from the 17th century. Then there is the the Palace’s Chapel and magnificent reception rooms, today known as the Concert Hall, the Balcony Room and the Marble Hall. These were improved and embellished in the mid-17th century by the politically powerful 2nd Prince Lobkowicz, Václav Eusebius (1609-1677). His great, great, great, great-grandson, Joseph František Maximilian, the 7th Prince Lobkowicz (1772-1816), known to all who know and appreciate their classical music as Beethoven’s most generous benefactor (dedicatee of 3 symphonies and more), was however responsible for the Palace’s present day exterior, a reconstruction he commissioned for Emperor Leopold II’s 1791 coronation as King of Bohemia.
For three centuries the Palace was passed down to each ruling Prince. After the First World War and following the abolishment of hereditary titles in 1918, Maximilian, son of the 10th Prince Lobkowicz, demonstrated his support for the new Republic by making several rooms available to the Prime Minister’s office. At the very beginning of World War II, the invading Nazis confiscated the Palace along with all other Lobkowicz family properties. Returned in 1945, the Palace and all their other properties were seized again just three years later by the Communist regime (1948-1989). Thankfully neither the Nazis, nor the Communists had any wacky ideas to demolish it or turn it into some kind of symbol of their own supposed greatness and the palace maintained its shape and style through the twentieth century. Today it is open to the public for guided tours and it is well worth an hour or two of your attention..
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