House At the Hybernians - Republic Square 4/1037, New Town
Republic Square 4/1037, New Town
The site of the current House at the Hybernians was originally occupied by a Gothic monastery of St. Ambrose, built by Charles IV. to commemorate his coronation as the King of Lombardy in Milan; it was run by the Benedictines from Milan. The church was seriously damaged during the Hussite wars, later on it was owned by the Franciscan-Observant Order and other owners. In 1630 the Irish Franciscans came here (Ireland is called Hybernia in Latin) and they built their monastery there and also the early Baroque church of Our Lady in 1653-59 according to a plan by C. Lurago. In 1785 the monastery was abolished as part of the reforms by Joseph II. and in 1808-11 it was adapted in Classicist style by J. Fišer to be used as a custom-house and a financial office, from 1940’s it served as an exhibition hall. At the beginning of the 21st century an extensive reconstruction took place and the house was converted into a musical theatre (Hybernia Theatre) which was inaugurated by the musical Golem. – According to a legend, the Irish monks were the first in Prague to grow potatoes in the monastery gardens, firstly as decorative flowers; the truth is that potatoes were known even before then in Bohemia but they were rather a decadent and extravagant delicacy: they were used for patés and were as rare as asparagus these days. – In the neighbouring army barracks of Jiří of Poděbrady, built in the 19th century, the writer and playwright J. K. Tyl wrote in 1834 while he was serving in the army, the lyrics of the song Kde domov můj (Where Is My Home), future Czech anthem.