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Royal Ball Game Hall in Prague

The Renaissance Royal Ball Game Hall is situated in the Royal Garden by the Prague Castle. Intended as a place for the nobles´ entertainment and sport activities, it was built in the 16 th century and decorated with sgraffitoes.

Sgraffito decoration

The Royal Ball Game Hall was built between 1567 and 1569 by the architect Bonifac Wohlmut together with Ulrich Aostalis. The sgraffitoes on its walls represent the four elements (earth, fire, water and air), the virtues (forethought, modesty, mercy, hope, righteousness and bravery) and sciences (theology, astronomy, geometry, music, arithmetic, rhetoric, dialectics and grammar).

Aristocrats´ entertainment

The decorative Royal Garden was in blossom in the 16 th century and the Royal Ball Game Hall was another place for the aristocrats´games and competitions. The noblemen enjoyed games with a leather ball there or playing a game similar to badminton with a small ball using raquets. Even the Emperor Rudolph II. used to take part in the games there.

Communist symbol on the wall

In 1723 the building became a stable and at the end of the 18 th century it was used as the army storage. During the Second World War the Royal Ball Game Hall was set on fire by the Nazis and it was restored in the 1950s. The originally open arches were glazed and a new sgraffito was added on the wall: the Communist symbol of the five-year plan and a hammer and sickle. It remains there to the present time. The tapestries “Antonius and Kleopatra“ from the 17 th century were installed inside.

Strings of Autumn festival

At the present time, the building is used for exhibitions, conferences, festivities and concerts, for example the Prague classical music festival Struny podzimu (The Strings of Autumn) takes place there.

There is a valuable Baroque sculpture The Night in front of the Royal Ball Game Hall. It was made by M. B. Braun in 1734. A similar sculpture The Day, which used to stand there as well, was destroyed by Prussian army cannonading Prague in 1757.

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