Memorial of National Literature – Hvězda Summer Palace (Památník národního písemnictví – Letohrádek Hvězda)
This two-storey Renaissance summer palace was built in the shape of a six-pointed star, and the interior features rich stucco decoration. The exhibition presents the architectural development of the summer palace and the Battle of White Mountain, which took place in 1620, not far from here. The Hvězda Summer Palace is a national cultural monument. It stands in the game reserve of the same name, and exhibitions, concerts and lectures are held here.
- April – October
- Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun
- 10.00 – 18.00
- basic 75 CZK
- reduced 45 CZK
- family 150 CZK
- Memorial of National Literature – Hvězda Summer Palace (Památník národního písemnictví – Letohrádek Hvězda)
- Liboc 25c
- 160 00 Praha 6- Liboc
Hvězda Summer House
The summer house and its symbolism
The summer house was built not only as a “utility building”, but thanks to the author of the project and the builder Ferdinand Tyrolský also as a “philosopher’s dwelling”. The author was well educated, he was well aware of arts, alchemy, he was influenced by the neo-platonist ideas and hermetism, professing the principles of harmony, proportions, symmetry, numeric symbolism. In this spirit, he also selected the shape of the building with a central disposition, corresponding with the heliocentric idea of the space setting - the architecture was an analogical reflection of the macrocosmic processes in the human work. A hexagram is a connection of two equilateral triangles, and it moreover symbolized a connection of two contradictory powers into mutual harmony, it enlightened and provided life strength. An appearance of a star - a comet marked the birth of Jesus.
There is also a symbolism of a pentagram in the building’s ground plan, if we look apart from the beam reserved for the staircase. Traditionally, a figure of a man with spread arms was inscribed into a pentagram (see Leonardo da Vinci). Also the original roof corresponded with the building’s proportions, as it was more pointed (today’s appearance is from the end of the 18th century, connected with the transformation into a gunpowder storage), and its height was the same as the length of the triangle arm in the ground plan.
The year of laying down the foundation stone, 1555 was not selected randomly, either. It was the 311th lustrum following the birth of Jesus, i.e. a period of five years (311x5) after which the expurgatory sacrifices were performed in ancient Rome. In the year 311, it was the first time that the Roman Emperor Galerius granted a religious freedom to the Catholics-
The four levels of the building correspond with the four elements: the basement - earth, the richly decorated ground floor - water, the first floor - air, the second floor with a great hall and a pyramidal ceiling - fire.
History of the building
The summer house was completed in a single year, in 1556; the construction in Renaissance style was realized with participation of Italian builders at the Prague royal court, Giovanni Maria Aostalli and Giovanni Lucchese, under the supervision of Hans Tirol, and later Bonifác Wohlmut.
The stucco decorations were realized in the years 1556 - 60.
In 1557, Ferdinand Tyrolský brought Filipina Welser into Hvězda for the first time.
In 1619, the summer house welcomed Frederick I, and he kept visiting the summer house afterwards, until he fled from Prague.
It was plundered during the Thirty Years’ War, and it was then only restored in 1652 by Ferdinand III.
From 1779 on, a decree of Joseph II turned it into a gunpowder storage until 1874, which further affected the building negatively. It had to wait for a major reconstruction until 1918, when the summer house was taken over by the Prague Castle Administration, and it was conducted by arch. Pavel Janák.
A Museum of A. Jirásek and M. Aleš was installed here in the years 1952 - 96, and a reconstruction followed after 1996, which was completed in 2004 and also included the object of the former gamekeeper’s house.
Since 1962, the summer house has been a National Cultural Monument.
In the basement, where there was a kitchen originally, and later on a wine cellar, there is now a model of the Battle of Bílá hora with tin figures of soldiers.
The ground-floor ceiling, divided into 334 fields, is decorated by fine stucco. The ornamental and figural motives were inspired by Roman Antique, but also Italian high-Renaissance - among the authors, there were Mario del Pambio, Giovanni Lucchese, and others. In the central field, there is the ultimate ancestor of the Roman dynasty named Aeneas, which corresponds with the targeted link of the Habsburg Family with the tradition of the Roman Emperors (even Ferdinand Tyrolský was the son of the Roman Emperor). The six surrounding fields contain stories from ancient mythology and history of Rome, which create the Mirror of virtues (bravery, sacrifice, son’s love for his family, etc.). The ceilings of the rooms in the beams and in the lounges between them were dedicated to the main ancient gods symbolizing the traditional planets (as well as the fundamental alchemy elements) - Mars (iron), Venus (copper), Mercury (mercury), Saturn (lead), but also the Sun (gold) and the Moon (silver), which the ancient people also considered as planets.
The hall on the 1st floor is used for exhibitions. The floor terrazzo was restored here; the black stains in many places are from fires made by soldiers staying in the summer house.
There is a banquet hall on the 2nd floor with mosaic floor from glazed tiles. On the ceiling, there were paintings depicting 13 scenes from the Thirty Years’ War from the 2nd half of the 17th century, but in 1783 they were covered by today’s wooden ceiling. The banquet hall is not accessible for general public, but it is used for social events, lectures, etc.
Ferdinand Tyrolský (16/6/1529 - 24/1/1595)
He was the second son of Ferdinand I and Anna Jagellon. He gained political experience in his early youth in the office of his father’s governor in Bohemia, which was assigned to him when he was 18 in 1547 after the first subdued nobility revolt against the Habsburgs. He remained in this office until 1566, and he gained respect not only from the nobility, but also among ordinary mass public, thanks to his politeness, good orientation in arts, architecture, history, and also thanks to his excellent knowledge of Czech language. He had merit in the building development in Prague, where he began to build a side Habsburg residence. He knew very well that due to his morganatic marriage (in 1557) to Filipina Welserová, daughter of a rich but not noble Augsburg purchaser and a financier, he closed the doors to the highest European constituencies both for himself and for his heirs. By building Prague and changing it into a social life centre, he compensated for other, non-realized life plans. He organized dinners, festivals, tournaments, or hunting in the Brandýs or Křivoklát woods. He was an enthusiastic collector of antiques, artistic pieces, armours, coins and rare books, and he supported the realization of the artistic crafts - in many respects he was similar to the later Emperor Rudolf II (the nephew of Ferdinand). It was due to him that the Renaissance style of life started to make his way in our country.