Hybernia Theatre (Divadlo Hybernia)
Renowned musical theatre housed in the U Hybernů building, built in eye-catching Empire style. Thanks to its location in the historical centre of Prague, the theatre also hosts exceptional concerts, balls, and prestigious cultural events.
U HYBERNŮ PALACE
HISTORY FROM THE MIDDLE AGES UNTIL THE ABOLITION OF THE MONASTERY
Shortly after founding the New Town (Nové Město - 1348), Charles IV placed a Benedictine monastery of St. Ambrosius here. In 1630, Emperor Ferdinand II passed the property to the Irish Franciscans, who were expelled from Britain by Queen Elisabeth and dwelled in the Netherlands, from where the Emperor invited them to our country. The monks were called “hyberni” after the Latin name for Ireland - Hibernia (thanks to them we were first introduced to potatoes, which they grew in the monastery garden). The early-Baroque convent with the Church of the Immaculate Conception of Virgin Mary was newly built in the years 1641 - 1654; the original buildings had been demolished. The project was probably the work of Carlo Lurago. The tower was only added later, in the years 1671 - 1672, the monastery library was built in 1701.
EMPIRE-STYLE RECONSTRUCTION AND THE FIRST REPUBLIC
After the monastery was abolished by Joseph II in 1785, the object was vacated and transferred to the army; later on it was acquired in an auction by Count Jan Sweerts-Sporck. At the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, it was used for staging Czech theatre plays in the premises of the former temple - the stage was in the elevated presbytery.
Later on, the object was acquired by a bank company (National Bank Administration) which carried out a major reconstruction in the years 1808 - 1811 according to a project of architect Jiří Fischer in the fashion of the Old Mint in Berlin. The reconstruction was conducted by Prague builder Jan Zobel, and it included the filling up of the catacombs, the extinction of the church’s original front, and the removal of the tower. The new front is one of the most valuable Empire-style buildings in Prague. Sculptural decorations were carried out by František Xaver Lederer.
The premises were used as a seat of financial authorities, customs offices, or censor’s office. When it was decided, during the era of the First Republic, that the object would be preserved, the Czech Artists came with a suggestion to reconstruct the building to an exhibition hall, and this suggestion was approved. The reconstruction started in 1940 - 1942 according to a project of academic architect Josef Karel Říha by an insertion of an interior staircase, partly another floor, establishment of the changing rooms and toilets. The transformation was interrupted during the war, and it was completed only after 1949.
The reconstruction started in 2000, and it was completed in the autumn of 2006. The author of the reconstruction project is ing. arch. Michael Klang - he stressed maximum possible preservation of the original appearance and the harmonization of the new parts with the historical ones.
During the reconstruction, a baroque chapel was renewed (or the passage way) from the 18th century with rich stucco decorations. This area was researched and then bricked in as early as in 1938; at present, it has been covered with a transparent glass wall, and excursions for professional public are anticipated.
Information source: Divadlo Hybernia