The Old Royal Palace at the Prague Castle used to be the seat of Czech rulers for centuries. Originally from the 12 th century, it was rebuilt several times through the years, so it is an amazing mix of several architectural styles, mostly Gothic and Renaissance. It includes one of the most important representation rooms at the Prague Castle – the Vladislav Hall.
The Old Royal Palace was founded around 1135 by Sobeslav I., the Duke of the Premyslid dynasty. It was a luxury Romanesque palace at the time, inspired by German residences. The original All Saints Chapel was consecrated in 1185.
Emperor Charles IV. and the Old Royal Palace
Emperor Charles IV. had the palace rebuilt in Gothic style in 14 th century. He was the first Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, who resided in Prague, and he made the Prague Castle look according to it. He made the Old Royal Palace comfortable and modern and founded several other Prague historical buildings of great importance, such as the Charles Bridge or St.Vitus Cathedral. There is a legend connected to his death. It is said, that when the Emperor died in the Old Royal Palace in November 1378, all the bells in Prague towers started ringing and the death knell rung from the St.Vitus Cathedral by itself. The cathedral bell-ringer listened in astonishment, because he had the keys to the tower in his pocket. It was allegedly the city of Prague saying good-bye to the beloved Emperor.
Old Royal Palace after Charles IV.´s death
The Hussite Wars in the 15 th century caused that the Old Royal Palace became empty for several decades. It became the ruler´s seat again in 1483, when Vladislav Jagiello moved in. He had the Vladislav Hall and the Louis Tract built by Benedikt Ried.
The Habsburg rulers, who got on the Czech throne in 16 th century, found the Old Royal Palace uncomfortable. They modified it for administrative purposes and built themselves a new residence in the Prague Castle area. There was a big fire at the Prague Castle in 1541 and some parts of the Old Royal Palace had to be rebuilt, especially the All Saints Chapel and the Old Diet. In the 18 th century, the Theresian Wing of the palace was built.
There are many interesting historical halls in the Old Royal Palace. Some remains of the Romanesque palace in the underground, Gothic rooms in the first basement such as Pillared Hall of Wenceslas IV. from around 1400 and representation rooms with the impressive Vladislav Hall.
Vladislav Hall – the place of presidential elections
The large Vladislav Hall was built in late-Gothic style around 1500 and with its length of 60 metres it was the largest secural arched hall in the Central Europe at the time. It was used as a place for coronation festivites and even knights´tournaments. Nowadays, important events such as presidential elections take place here. The Rider´s Staircase made it possible for knights to arrive right to the Vladislav Hall on their horses for tournaments.
Other historical spaces in the Old Royal Palace
There is the Louis Tract nearby, where you can see the two Bohemian Chancellory rooms. One of them is a historical place, where the Thirty Years´ War actually started: the rebellion of Czech Protestant nobles started here with throwing two imperial governors out of the window in 1618.
The Old Diet by the Vladislav Hall used to be the room, where the state assemblies took place. The throne was for the ruler, the archbishop sat next to him and the upholstered benches were for the representatives of the estates. The Royal towns representatives could only stand by the window, having just one vote.
The All Saints Chapel is situated by the Vladislav Hall. There are paintings with scenes from the legend of saint Procopius, whose relics are kept there.
A visit of the Old Royal Palace is a part of the sightseeing tour of the Prague Castle. Its entrance is situated at the 3 rd Prague Castle Courtyard.