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Clam-Gallas Palace

Husova 20, 110 01 Praha 1

Jan Václav Gallas, the Supreme Marshal of the Kingdom of Bohemia, Viceroy of Naples, built himself in 1713–1719 a palace after plans by the Viennese court architect J.B. Fischer of Erlach. The massive statues of giants on by the entrance, the sculptures on its attic storey, and the sculpture decoration on the staircase are the work of Matyáš Bernard Braun. The frescoes on the staircase and in the halls on the second floor were executed by Carlo Carlone.
The Clam-Gallas Palace is one of the most outstanding buildings of the Prague Baroque. The Palace has been reconstructed, at present it is home to the Municipal Archive.
Two halls are used for concerts:  the Conference Hall with lovely ceiling frescoes and the Main Marble Hall with beautiful crystal chandeliers.




The palace's history was most expressively influenced by his grandson Johann Wenzel Gallas. This important diplomat who served as imperial ambassador to England, the Hague, the Papal Curia, and, shortly before his death in 1719, as the viceroy in Naples, loved to come back to Prague from his frequent travels and paid appropriate attention to his palace. In 1699 he began buying the neighboring houses with the intention of future enlargement of the palace, whose renovation, entrusted to architect Marco Antonio Canevale, was commenced just then. The renovation completed in 1700 did not satisfy the cultural demands and refined taste of this leading Austrian aristocrat who in his youth obtained excellent education and on his travels visited the most acclaimed seats of European nobility. In 1713, he invited to Prague a Viennese architect, Johann Bernard Fischer of Erlach, whose construction plans were put to use the same year. The contract for sculptural decoration of the palace, primarily its portal, staircase and Neptune's fountain, went to the works of Mathias Bernard Braun.

The bulk of construction works on the large palace compound was completed in the year of  Johann Wenzel Gallas' death. Despite considerable financial difficulties brought about the completion of an undertaking of such monumental proportions, son Philip Joseph concluded an agreement with Carlo Carlone, an Italian painter of renown, who was hired to execute painting embellishment of the palace. Between 1727 and 1729 he produced the main staircase frescoes, of which the largest one, above the main landing, depicts the triumph of god Helios, and further the frescoes in both ceremonial halls on the second floor that represent an assembly of the Olympian gods, and an apotheosis of Art, respectively. Frescoes were painted also in the smaller rooms and the east-wing palace library. Approximately at the same time, the staircase and the large white hall, also known as Marble Hall, on the second floor, were adorned with stucco. Mostly inspired by Greek and Roman mythology, the decoration is of exceptional artistic quality but it was never completed in its entirety as originally envisioned by Fischer.

With Philip Joseph's death in 1757, the Gallas family died out on the spear side, and the palace was inherited by Gallas' sister Elisabeth's son Christian Philip von Clam. He united both family names as Clam-Gallas, giving the palace its final name. Sometimes around 1800, a small corner garden was established in the place where the former church of the Holy Virgin at the Pond used to stand. An Empire-style sculpture by Vaclav Prachner, an allegory of the Vltava River, portrayed as a maiden and lovingly nicknamed Little Therese by the public, was set in a niche in its wall. At that time the palace was a hub of science and the arts. Another floor was added to its north wing where a theater was to be built. In the end of the day this positively lofty intention did not materialize and the available attic space was subsequently used as a hayloft.

The entrance.

In the 19th century the palace was in part converted to an apartment building, and after the founding of the First Republic when the family got into financial troubles, the ceremonial wing of the palace accommodated Ministry of Finance offices, a wedding chapel, and exhibition premises. The palace was confiscated in 1945 pursuant to the Benes Decrees, and the Prague City Archives was moved there having lost its original premises in the Old Town Hall blaze. The palace whose dilapidation had begun already in the period between the two world wars was eventually in such a state of disrepair that necessitated total renovation efforts after 1978. These were completed in 1994, including restoration work on the paintings and sculptures. Today, the Clam-Gallas Palace, a splendid example of a monumental late Baroque aristocratic seat, set smack in the middle of medieval-type town houses, shines in its erstwhile grandeur again. Owned by the Capital of Prague, it now serves as the second site of the Prague City Archives. Its ceremonial halls now hold exhibitions, concerts, scholarly conferences and other social events.

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      The Main Marble Hall - The Prague String Soloists ensemble concert.

Baroque staircase with sculptures (M.Braun)
and ceiling frescoes (Carlo Carlone).

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The Main Marble Hall - from the concert tittled "Nocturne with Mozart.


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