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Now we will travel in time back to 14th century when there used to stand a luxurious residence of the Bohemian kings called „Royal Courtyard“ where the Municipal House is to be found in Náměstí republiky today. From the courtyard coronation precessions departed and headed for Prague Castle. We will learn more about this landmark in a while.
Who lived in the Royal Courtyard?
The Courtyart was built by the king Wenceslas IV. in the end of the 14th century. The monarchs had resided in Prague Castle so far however its cold walls and bad conditions were not sufficient for the life of a sovereign. Therefore Wenceslas IV. moved to an entirely new luxurious residence on the boundary between the New and Old Town in 1383 which was much more comfortable than the stone Castle. Due to its location, the Courtyard sometimes used to be called the tower at the Prague fortifications. It was to be found close to an important historic trunk road leading to the royal Kutná Hora. After Wenceslas IV. also Sigismund of Luxembourg, the Habsburgs Albrecht and later his son Ladislav the Posthumous, the king George and Vladislav Jagello lived here. The Bohemian monarchs had been residing here for a century when the king Vladislav Jagello moved back to Prague Castle in 1484. All of his successors continued the tradition of the Prague Castle and so the former royal residence became the private property.
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Changes of the owners worsened the condition of the building
The Roayl Courtyard got two owners in 1530 who divided it in two parts. This was not a lucky decision for the landmark because the owners stopped taking care of it and the object started to deteriorate. The new owners, Jindřich Plánský of Žeberk and afterwards his wife Ludmila Sekerková of Sedčice started taking care of the Roayl Courtyard again. It was their credit that a part of the bell tower was reconstructed. The building changed its owners very frequently until one of its parts was purchased by Polyxena of Lobkovice in 1625. Her relative Ladislav of Lobkovice got the other part of the Courtyard in 1554 already. The house belonged to Lobkovic family until 1631 when they sold it to the Archbishop of Harrach.
There was a great fire in the Old Town in 1689 which seriously damaged the Royal Courtyard. However, its reconstruction was carried out much later and a great part of the building was restored. Barracks were established here in 1777 and there was also a military school here later. At the end of 19th century the building belonged to Živnobanka (trader´s bank) which got this significant landmark pull down in 1903. The present Municipal House was raised here between 1905 – 1911.
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What did the Courtyard look like?
According to the extant historical sources and records of the architects´ the construction of the Royal Courtyard had a triangular layout. There used to be a tower palace in the south-western wing. There was also a great hall in the building where important royal meetings and other significant events took place. There were also gardens and houses of the servants in the premises.
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