The imposing Cernin Palace with its 150 metres long frontage is the longest Baroque building in Prague. You can find in it the Loretto Square in the Prague Castle District (Hradcany). It is the residence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs nowadays.
Monumental residence of Count Cernin
The Count Humprecht Jan Cernin of Chudenice, the imperial delegate in Venice, got the idea to build a monumental residence in Prague in the 17 th century. He bought a huge piece of land and tried to find a skilled architect, but nobody was able to even imagine such a palace. Until one day, Count Cernin was visited by Francesco Caratti, who offered him his idea of the building. Count Cernin was satisfied and the building started in 1669.
Prague citizens were very curious and watched the building of the palace. Even Emperor Leopold came to have a look in 1673 and he remarked pointedly that itīs a big barn, but it has no gate. Thatīs why the Cernin family hated the emperor for many years then. However, the Cernin Palace is regarded one of the Baroque pearls of Prague.
Baroque decoration of the interior
There used to be a picture gallery inside, with many paintings by Renaissance masters that the Count Cernin brought from Italy. After the Count had died, his son had continued with the building works and several architects participated on it. There are statues by M. B. Braun placed in the big hall and the interiors are decorated with paintings by V. V. Reiner.
Cannonade of the Cernin Palace
During the 18 th century, the financial situation of the Cernin family got worse and a real catastrophe for the Cernin Palace came in 1742. The French and Bavarian armies were encircled in Prague during the War of Austrian Succession and they occupied the palace. They made it a fortress, made loopholes in the walls and some furniture was burned right in the halls. There were trenches in the decorative garden. The Cernin Palace was cannonaded by 150 cannonballs and several thousands of people died near the palace.
The palace was restored, but another damage came in 1757: Prague was besieged by Prussian army and the Cernin Palace was cannonaded for 12 days. The Cernin family finally moved to Vienna at the end of the 18 th century and the palace became a military hospital. In 1851 it was bought by the army and rebuilt for it.
Residence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
A change came in 1920, when soldiers left the building and the Cernin Palace became the seat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was restored according to the original plans by Francesco Caratti.
During the World War II., the palace was a seat of the Reich Protector from 1939 to 1944. However, after the war, it became the Ministry of Foreign Affairs again. There is a mystery connected to Jan Masaryk, Minister of Foreign Affairs and son of the first Czechoslovakian president T. G. Masaryk. He lived and worked in the Cernin Palace, but one day in 1948, the year of the Communist coup, he was found dead under his window. The cause of his death was never made clear.
Ever since till the present time, the Cernin Palace stayed the residence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.