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Royal Way. Nerudova.

Royal Way. Nerudova. (37)

The Royal Way of Prague joins two of the most important places in the Old Town: the Royal Palace, situated where today stands the Municipal House, and the Castle. The princes of Bohemia paraded along it to be crowned and they left behind a trail of legend and magnificence. All along the Royal Way palaces and rich commercial establishments sprung up which still today conserve their lavish flavour.

The first to take the Royal Way to be crowned was George of Podebrady, in 1458. Three centuries later, in 1791, Leopold II organised the largest procession ever seen. Hundreds of people, among them nobles, knights and soldiers of the infantry took part in the celebration, not to mention the eighty carriages taking princes and bishops. For the ladies, coaches were reserved drawn by dozens of horses.

In 1836, the year of the last coronation procession, that of Ferdinand V, nearly 3,400 horses were used and, as an exotic note, four camels as well.

Nerudova Street leads from Malá Strana Square and constitutes the last section of the Royal Way. You should not be fooled by the narrowness of the street: a simple stroll will reveal a large number of rich Baroque palaces.

This street owes its name to the writer Jan Neruda, known for his short stories set in this area of Prague. Neruda lived between in 1845 and 1857 in the House of the Two Suns, at number 47.

You might be surprised to find that in Prague it is quite common to refer to houses using a name. In such a case, you should be aware that numbering for houses was not introduced until 1770. To make things clear and to distinguish one from the others, people referred to them from the emblem that crowned their doors. In this street you can walk along it and try to guess their names from their emblems.

If you need help, you can start at number 2, which is the House of the Cat with its Renaissance porticos. At number 12, the House of the Three Violins commemorates that a family lineage of violin makers lived here. Also along the street stand the Houses of the Green Lobster, the Golden Horseshoe and the White Swan.

One of the most outstanding buildings on Nerudova is the Morzin Palace, built in 1713 by the architect Santini-Aichel, one of the most important of Prague Baroque. It is opposite the House of the Golden Cup and you will recognise it easily, since its semicircular balcony rests over the statues of the “heraldic Moors”, in a play of words with the name of the palace, Morzin. Today it is the Romanian Embassy.

At number 20, another palace, the Thun-Hohernstein Palace, houses the Italian Embassy and boasts sculptures by Santini-Aichel. He was also the architect of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, a church with an imposing Baroque façade at number 22. Alongside it, the old convent of the Theatines was bought by Count Morzin in 1793, and eventually used the old refectory as a theatre.

Underneath the emblem of Wenceslas on a horse at number 32, what was probable the first pharmacy of Malá Strana, today houses a museum.

You can end your tour of Nerudova Street at number 33, in the old Bretfeld Palace. Although today it does not look much like a ballroom, you should know that it was here where the finest of the Prague’s aristocracy would meet, who used it as a ballroom until the 18th century.

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