Wallenstein Palace, named after its original owner and important Hapsburg military commander, Count Albrecht Wenzel von Wallenstein, is situated in Mala Strana. Construction on the impressive baroque palace began in 1623, and Wallenstein hoped that its grandeur would surpass that of Prague Castle.
Wallenstein had travelled extensively throughout Italy and wanted to reflect Italian architectural features and style in his new home. In order to get the look he desired, he employed people from Florentine to assist him in the build.
The result is a large, magnificent palace, beautifully decorated throughout with some innovative design features which set the trend for future buildings. Its floor plan included an unusual layout incorporating corridors. In most large buildings of this time, you would need to travel through rooms to move from one area to the next. However Wallenstein was able to move around his palace using an extensive network of corridors.
Although visitors are not permitted to explore the whole palace, there are certainly enough accessible rooms to realize the grandeur of the building. Rooms on display include the Knight's Hall, the Antechamber with its large Venetian mirrors and the small circular Audience Chamber with its fresco of God Helios and a painting depicting the four seasons.
The ceiling fresco in the two storey main hall depicts a battle scene where Wallenstein is shown as the God of War, Mars. The ceiling is also adorned with magnificent chandeliers.
There are also two areas called the Mythological and Astronomical Corridors that are elaborately decorated with astrological and astronomical symbols and frescos depicting mythical legends. It was here in these corridors that Galileo's discoveries were made public for the first time.
The main palace chapel is elaborately decorated in baroque style. It is thought the baroque trends started here with the construction of the intricate chapel altar. Many of the wall paintings are dedicated to St Wenceslas.
Outside the palace, the Italian influenced formal, walled, baroque gardens have been beautifully maintained. There is also an avenue of sculptures depicting heroes from Greek mythology and the Riding School with stables. The Riding School is now used to host exhibitions of modern art. Another feature of the garden is a man made wall of limestone that contains artificial stalactites and stalagmites, close to which is a bird aviary.
The garden also features a large Salla Terrene, or garden room that opens directly onto the garden. It is decorated with scenes from the legendary Troy. In summer, classical concerts and theatre performances are held in the gardens.
Unfortunately, Wallenstein only lived in the palace for a year before he met his untimely death, when he was assassinated in 1634 but the home passed on to his descendants and remained in his family until 1945. After World War II, it became the property of the Czech government and today is used as the premises of the Czech Senate.
It is only open to the public at certain times of the week and the rooms on view are limited.
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