Starý královský palác

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Starý královský palác

A jumble of styles and add-ons from different eras are gathered in this palace. The best way to grasp its size is from within the Vladislavský sál (Vladislav Hall), the largest secular Gothic interior space in Central Europe. Benedikt Ried completed the hall in 1493. (He was to late Bohemian Gothic what Peter Parler was to the earlier version.) The room imparts a sense of space and light, softened by the sensuous lines of the vaulted ceilings and brought to a dignified close by the simple oblong form of the early Renaissance windows. In its heyday, the hall held jousting tournaments, festive markets, banquets, and coronations. In more recent times, it has been used to inaugurate presidents, from the communist leader Klement Gottwald (in 1948) to modern-day leaders like Václav Havel and current president Miloš Zeman.

From the front of the hall, turn right into the rooms of the Česká kancelář (Bohemian Chancellery). This wing was built by Benedikt Ried only 10 years after the hall was completed, but it shows a much stronger Renaissance influence. Pass through the portal into the last chamber of the chancellery. In 1618 this room was the site of the second defenestration of Prague, an event that marked the beginning of the Bohemian rebellion and, ultimately, the Thirty Years' War throughout Europe. The square window used in this protest is on the left as you enter the room.

At the back of Vladislav Hall a staircase leads up to a gallery of the Kaple všech svatých (All Saints' Chapel). Little remains of Peter Parler's original work, but the church contains some fine works of art. The large room to the left of the staircase is the Stará sněmovna (council chamber), where the Bohemian nobles met with the king in a prototype parliament of sorts. The descent from Vladislav Hall toward what remains of the Romanský palác (Romanesque Palace) is by way of a wide, shallow set of steps. This Jezdecké schody (Riders' Staircase) was the entranceway for knights who came for the jousting tournaments.

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