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Wallenstein Palace (Valdstejnsky Palác)

Wallenstein Palace (Valdstejnsky Palác) (43)

The history of the Wallenstein Palace is the history of a dream and an ambition. The person who should have been its owner, Albrecht von Wallenstein, never lived to enjoy his finished work but nevertheless he left us one of the most beautiful constructions in Prague.

The Duke of Wallenstein, who lived in the 17th century, soon realised that his greatest ambition was to become rich and powerful. Thus, both his first marriage with a rich widow and the second one with a noblewoman brought him closer to the Court of Ferdinand II.

Wallenstein created an army that he placed at the disposition of the emperor and gradually became a trusted person as well as his best man of arms. Wallenstein’s soldiers marked up numerous victories in the Thirty Years War. For diverse circumstances and family coincidences, he ended up possessing an immense number of properties and holding numerous titles such as the Duke of Friedland, Prince of Sagan and Head of the Guard of the lands of Bohemia.

But with his 24,000 soldiers and his boundless ambition, Wallenstein gradually became a threat to the emperor, who was not comfortable with his accumulation of power. In fact, it is said that Wallenstein aspired to the crown of Bohemia and that he had begun to negotiate with the Swedish and the Saxons.

Ferdinand II, convinced that it was better to lose a collaborator than lose the crown, did not hesitate in ordering his death. Thus, in 1634 the Duke of Wallenstein ended his days murdered at the hands of mercenaries hired by the emperor.

Seeing his most valued possession, the Wallenstein Palace, it seems reasonable to suspect that its owner was plotting something. In fact, this magnificent architectural complex not only had to be a residence for the duke but it also had to outdo Prague Castle. In order to build it, 23 houses, three gardens and a factory had to be demolished.

Its architects, Andrea Spezza, Niccolo Sebregondi and Giovanni Pieroni, gave it a late-Renaissance air. In the sala terrena, a pavilion with views to the garden, one can appreciate a Mannerist style with paintings and stuccos representing scenes from the Trojan wars and the Aenid.

In the main room, two storeys high, the Duke of Wallenstein wanted to satisfy his vanity representing himself as the God Mars riding in a war chariot.

The palace experienced restoration work and reform at the beginning of the 19th century and has been the headquarters of the Senate since 1945, when it was confiscated by the State.

The vast Baroque gardens are open to the public and are well worth visiting. In the centre of a large pond you will see a statue dedicated to Hercules. Moreover, there are several bronze statues which are a replica of those produced by the artist Adriaen de Vries. The originals were sacked by the Swedish in the Thirty Years War.

Some pavilions are today rooms for the collection of the National Museum dedicated to pedagogy. Behind the old riding school, you can visit the temporary gallery of the National Museum.

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