Letenský Chateau (Letenský zámeček)
On a picturesque site in the heart of the Letná Park directly above the Old Town, an impressive neo-Renaissance building rose in the style of an Italian villa in 1863. It offered the city’s elite a favourite place to sit and refresh themselves. Even today you can find four restaurants in various styles and, in particular, a wonderful view of Prague laid out before your eyes.
The Letná Chateau is a new-Renaissance house built in an Italian villa style in 1863 according to a project of architect Vojtěch Ignác Ullmann. It has been the dominant of the Letná Parks for over 140 years now, and it is a popular trip spot of the Prague citizens. As early as in 1715, there was an observation summer house named Belvedér on the plain above the river, opposite today’s Revoluční Avenue and Štefánik’s Bridge. It was built by Count František Valdštejn and it was blasted off by Prague’s French occupants nearly 30 years later in 1742. Its name Belvedér was then incorrectly transferred onto the Royal Summer House at Prague Castle. Then there was nothing here until the construction of the Letná Chateau in 1863. The chateau was built as a rather large restaurant. On the Eastern side, there is a quadrangular tower which exceeds the restaurant object by one storey. The circular staircase in the tower leads to the top-floor lounge. There is a two-flight staircase leading to the main entrance to the building, originally an open loggia. The main front of the building with a view of the town faces the river. The restaurant has high semi-circular windows. A garden restaurant with a dance floor was built next to the house with a nice hall and several lounges. The Letná Chateau was owned by the City of Prague and it was leased out regularly. The attendance grew significantly when the funicular train going up to Letná was put into operation in 1891 on the occasion of the Jubilee National Exhibition. Its operation ended in 1916, and 10 years later the track body was used to install the moving pavement. At the time of the Jubilee National Exhibition, the terminal station of Křižík’s electrical line was built in the vicinity of the Letná Chateau, being the first tram line in Prague going to Stromovka. It was operated until 1900. In 1894, a carousel with wooden horses was installed behind the restaurant, probably manufactured in 1893, placed in a wooden cabin with twelve walls covered by roller blinds. It is a historical rarity, a protected monument. In 2004, the carousel was taken up by the National Technical Museum. The carousel is in a critical state and it is not operational.
During the totality regime, the building of the restaurant dilapidated significantly, but a major reconstruction of the entire object took place in 1992. The current restaurant is named after the building’s architect Ullmann, and the name Belcredi. It is Count Richard Belcredi, an Italian nobleman by origin, who was a governor in Bohemia from 1864 on, and who promoted the autonomy of the Bohemian lands and the equality of the Austrian monarchy nations. Also the main avenue at Letná was given his name, leading from the square Strossmayerovo náměstí, today the Milada Horáková’s Avenue.