The beautiful Sternberg Palace is situated near Prague Castle. It was built in the late 17th century by the Count of Sternberg, Vaclav Vojtech, using the baroque architectural style.
The collection is spread over two main floors. It is a beautifully ornate building, whose exterior walls are embellished with sculptured reliefs. The palace's four sides surround a courtyard in the center of which is a bronze statue of a lion killing a huge snake.
The interior is even more lavishly decorated with walls, ceilings, floors all adorned with art or fine furnishings which add to the feeling of pure luxury. Many of the ceilings are covered in artwork and in two of the halls, mirrors have been placed on the ceilings.
It has had several owners and functions over its history. In 1811, the palace changed hands and was bought by the Society of Patriotic Friends of the Arts, who used it as a picture gallery, showcasing the Society's art collection. Then at the end of the 19th century, it was converted into a mental institution. In World War II it was commandeered by the Army and used as barracks.
After extensive restoration work in 2002 and 2003, the palace was taken over by the Czech National Gallery and opened to the public. It contains a varied collection of early European art stretching from classical times to the end of the baroque era. There is also a smaller 19th century collection of works on display.
The artworks are well presented in an orderly way. The first floor contains works from ancient Greece and Rome and works from the 14th to 16th century can be viewed. On the next floor are mainly works by internationally acclaimed artists including Rubens, Rembrandt, Goya and Van Dyck. The ground floor houses mostly Austrian and German art from the 16th to 18th century. Other parts of the collection include prints, crafts and sculptures.
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