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Karolinum

Karolinum (13)

The Carolinum is the main building of Charles University, founded by Charles IV in 1348. It was the first university in Central Europe, followed by those Cracow and Vienna. Thanks to Charles University, the noblemen and most important citizens did not have to leave the country to study in France or Italy. Following the model of the Sorbonne, in Paris, or of Bologna, in Italy, the new university had four faculties: medicine, art, law and theology.

The new university was very successful and became a prestigious European cultural centre where some of the most renowned theologians taught. The reformist cleric Jan Hus was rector here twice before being burnt at the stake in 1415. The Carolinum became a very important support for the Hussite cause and for this reason the Catholic students stopped attending. The Carolinum gradually lost contact with the rest of Europe until the triumph of Protestantism in some countries, after which contact was once again made.

Like many other things in this city, everything changed after the victory of the Catholics in the Battle of White Mountain, in 1620. The university passed into the hands of the Jesuits, who already possessed the Clementinum and thus came to control the entire higher education system of Prague.

A curiosity about this university is that it taught in Latin until 1784, which must have made it more difficult for the students less gifted in languages. Later on classes were given in German. However, at the beginning of the 20th century the university was a focus of Czech nationalism.

In the old centre was the mansion of a banker, which he gave to the institution on its founding... although we do not know what he was given in return.

Of the original building the chapel, arcade, walls and a beautiful projecting window have been conserved, as well as some Baroque elements. In 1945 the Gothic courtyard was rebuilt. 

Today the Carolinum is a building belonging to the university but is only used for some official acts.

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