September 01: pretty in pink in Prague

2012/09/01 § 1 Comment

On this day in 1689 Killian Ignaz Dientzenhofer was born.

Descending from several generations of architect/builders, Dientzenhofer became his family’s most famous architect, highly prominent during the Baroque period in the Czech/Bohemian lands, especially in and around Prague, where he completed dozens of palaces, convents and churches.

Among them is the rouged-up Goltz-Kinsky Palace (1755-65).  The rosy manse reigns over the Old Town Square, where it has plenty of competition: the bristly towers of the Tyn church and the old Town Hall with its carnival of gears and gizmo that make up the astronomical clock, the woeful figure of Jan Hus, a bevy of palaces dipped in Easter Egg hues and covered in sgraffito, and finally St. Nicholas church, a regal bride of Bohemian Baroque, again from the pen of Dientzenhofer.  Kinsky’s rosy facade, replete with Classical ornament given the Barococo treatment and the unusual design of dual pediments on the facade, imposes itself upon, and anchors, one of the irregular Square’s corners.

Since its completion, and due to its prominent location, the palace has been associated with significant historical figures and events.  It was the birthplace of Bertha von Suttner (1843-1914), an aristocrat who became one of Europe’s most widely read pacifists and the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905.  Of other literary consequence, a young Franz Kafka attended grammar school in the palace during the late nineteenth century.  On 25 February 1948 it took on other significance as its balcony was the location from which Communist leader Klement Gottwald announced the advent of Communism in Czechoslovakia; exactly forty-two years later Vaclav Havel declared its end.  Serious drama for such a pretty place.

Image: the palace (Clio’s)


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