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Royal Summer Residence - a gem of Renaissance architecture in Prague

The Royal Summer Residence, also called the Queen Anna´s Summer Residence, is situated in the eastern end of the Royal Garden near the Prague Castle. It is one of the most valuable Renaissance buildings in the Czech republic and it is considered the most beautiful piece of Renaissance architecture to the north of the Alps.

Summer Residence for Queen Anna

Emperor Ferdinand I. ordered this building in 1538 for his wife, Queen Anna Jagiello, to show his affection for her and the object was supposed to be used for relaxation and various pastime activities. But the building was complicated by many circumstances: there was a lack of money for such a magnificent project and there was also a big fire in Prague in 1541. Finally, Queen Anna didn´t live long enough to see it finished.

Astronomers in the Royal Summer Residence

After Ferdinand I. left the country, the place was used by his son Ferdinand of Tirol for his free time activities. Later, in the 17th century, the Emperor Rudolph II. put some of his collections there and let some of his court astronomers, e.g. Tycho Brahe, work there. The emperor himself enjoyed spending time at the place for relaxation.

The decline in the 17th century

The decline of the Royal Summer Residence started at the end of the Thirty Years´ War. In 1648 it was devastated by the Swedish army and since the beginning of the 18th century it was used for storing corn, flour and vegetables. During the reign of Maria Theresa, the artillery of the Austrian army gained the building. Plans to make this place an observatory failed, so it became an ammunition manufacture for some time.

Some restoring work was made at the beginning of the 19th century and finally the King Ferdinand V. ordered the army to leave the building. A community of patriots decided to make it a picture gallery. At the present, there are exhibitions, music performances and handcraft presentations in the Royal Summer Residence.

The Royal Summer Residence is often called Belvedere, but that is an incorrect name: Belvedere was the name of the Summer Residence built for the count Frantisek of Waldstein in Prague Letna Park in 1715. It was destroyed by French army in 1743.

Architecture of the Royal Summer Residence

The Lombardic Renaissance style of the Royal Summer Residence catches attention with its arcades and Tuscan pillars. The copper roof used to be decorated with white and red stripes and painted with symbols of the Czech Kingdom. The passage arcades are adorned with numerous figural reliefs from the 16th century, depicting scenes from mythology and historical events. The arcades and the reliefs were made by Italian stone cutters Paolo della Stella, G. B. de Savosa and G. Campione de Bussi. The first floor and the roof were built by H. Tirol and B. Wohlmut.

Inside the Royal Summer Residence, there are two domed Renaissance halls and a main dance hall in the first floor with a wooden coffered ceiling. It is embellished with paintings representing the history of the kingdom.

Singing Fountain

In front of the Royal Summer Residence you can see the bronze Singing Fountain from 1568. The fountain got its name because of the sound it makes, when the water drops on the metal fountain bowls. The best way to hear it is to crouch under the lower bowl. By the western frontage of the building, there is a bronze statue Genius by J. Stursa.

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