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Royal Court

In the place of current Municipal House and neighbouring buildings, Old Town

In the peak period of the Middle Ages the solid yet cold and uncomfortable castles no longer suited the growing demands for luxurious accommodation and appropriate representation. The first ruler to leave the Prague Castle and move its court to the Old Town was Wenceslas IV of Luxembourg. He firstly settled down in the current Dlouhá street in the House At the Black Eagle (1/922), then at the beginning of 1383 he moved to the house by the fortification wall dividing the Old Town and the New Town along the busy road to Kutná Hora. He had the house extensively refurbished and turned it into an urban royal residence conforming to all the standards of comfort of that period.

The Royal Court was used by the Czech rulers –if they were based in Prague – for the whole following century. These included emperors Sigismund of Luxembourg and Albrecht II Habsburg and kings Ladislaus the Posthumous, Jiří of Poděbrady and Vladislav II of Jagiello. This was the starting point for the famous coronation processions going to the Prage Castle, following a route that became later known as the Royal Route; the first ruler to pass through Prague this way was Albrecht II Habsburg in 1438 and three of his successors. The same path from the Powder Tower to the Castle was followed by many other rulers, who were more and more commonly based in Vienna; the last one to go for his coronation this way was Ferdinand V the Good in 1836.

The safety provided by the Prague Castle was sought by Vladislav II of Jagiello in 1483 during the unstable period of Prague uprisings even though he originally didn´t intend to leave the Royal Court – as proved by the fact that in 1475 he had the foundation stone of the representative New (Powder) Tower laid right next to the residence. After 1490 the Jagiello dynasty moved to Budín and in 1515 the Royal Court was closed down. Not even the Habsburgs who came to power in 1526 were interested in this residence which continued to deteriorate. The derelict and run-down building was bought in 1631 by cardinal Arnošt Vojtěch Harrach who established an archbishop seminary there, after a fire in 1689 the Royal Court was rebuilt and extended by the church of St. Adalbert. In the 1870´s after the Jesuit Order was abolished the seminar moved the Clementinum complex and the Royal Court became a property of the army who had its barracks there until 1869 and then a military cadet school until 1900. In 1902-03 the whole Royal Court was pulled down during the big demolition of the old Prague buildings and part of the reclaimed plots of land were used for the construction of the Municipal House in 1905-1911, on the rest of the land new houses were built between Celetná and Králodvorská streets. The name of the street Králodvorská is possibly the only reminder of the former Royal Court.

 

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