Wallenstein palace is the first large secular palace of the Baroque era. The original Palace was built in years 1623-1630 by Albrecht von Wallenstein, Duke of Mecklenburg (1583-1634), who made his name and fortune as the Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial forces in the Thirty Years War. Emperor Ferdinand II feared Albrecht of Wallenstein’s calculating mind and had him assassinated in 1634 in the town of Eger (now Cheb). He lived in the palace for only a year before his death. His widow sold it to his nephew and it remained in the Wallenstein family until 1945. After the Second World War, the palace became Czechoslovak state property and was renovated to house government offices. Today, the Senate of the Czech Republic operates out of the main palace buildings. The Riding School is used as a branch of the National Gallery in Prague. The challenging restoration of the main building began in mid-1999. The most valuable parts of this building in historical and artistic terms are the Main Hall, the Knights' Hall, the Antechamber, the Audience Hall and the Mythological and Astronomical Corridors.
The main wing of Wallenstein palace was largely a reconstruction of the Trcka residence. It incorporates both late renaissance and Nordic mannerism which is expressed in the portals and Netherlandish dormer-windows. Initially, in keeping with the architectural style, the Main Hall was decorated with tapestries and furniture ordered from Italy and the Netherlands. Much of the original furnishings were looted either in 1648 by the Swedes or 1742 by the French.
The west wing of the complex hosts the Main Hall, that rises to the height of two stories. The Duke is depicted, in the middle ceiling fresco as the god of war, Mars, riding in a war chariot drawn by a team of horses. In the painting, the Duke is holding the reins of four horses while Mars is usually seen only holding three horses. The stucco work depicting weapons, war trophies and musical instruments were probably made by Santino Galli and Domenico Canevalle. When the wing was built, it was the second largest hall after the Spanish hall of Prague Castle with an area of 288 meters squared and a height of 10.5 meters. This is original façade was altered in the mid nineteenth century to include marble portals from the Cerninsky palace and the entire hall was rebuilt as a barracks.
Originally tile stoves placed in each room heated the palace. The tile in the Antechamber was used later to line the fireplace. Guests waited in the antechamber to be granted audience with the Duke. Due to an adaptation in the 19th century, it is a kind of Mirror Hall with two Venetian mirrors made in the 18th century on the Italian island of Murano. The only objects original to the room are a set of four chests used by the Duke to hold his wardrobe. They are Italian chests made around the turn of the 17th century.
The palace chapel is two stories high and richly decorated with scenes from the legend of St Wenceslas. Cabinet-maker and woodcarver Arnošt Jan Heidelberger constructed the chapel altar in 1630. Its construction marked the first Baroque monument of its kind in Prague and the beginning of the Baroque age in the Czech lands.
The garden was created at the same time as the Wallenstein Palace in the early 17th century, in the lower part of the Malá Strana District. It displays a fine example of Mannerist layout and decoration, with very diverse sections. It is dominated by an aisle lined with bronze sculptures, an impressive Sala Terrena and an amazing artificial grotto.References:
Château de Falaise is best known as a castle, where William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840 it has been protected as a monument historique.
The castle (12th–13th century), which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of the Dukes of Normandy. The construction was started on the site of an earlier castle in 1123 by Henry I of England, with the 'large keep' (grand donjon). Later was added the 'small keep' (petit donjon). The tower built in the first quarter of the 12th century contained a hall, chapel, and a room for the lord, but no small rooms for a complicated household arrangement; in this way, it was similar to towers at Corfe, Norwich, and Portchester, all in England. In 1202 Arthur I, Duke of Brittany was King John of England's nephew, was imprisoned in Falaise castle's keep. According to contemporaneous chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, John ordered two of his servants to mutilate the duke. Hugh de Burgh was in charge of guarding Arthur and refused to let him be mutilated, but to demoralise Arthur's supporters was to announce his death. The circumstances of Arthur's death are unclear, though he probably died in 1203.
In about 1207, after having conquered Normandy, Philip II Augustus ordered the building of a new cylindrical keep. It was later named the Talbot Tower (Tour Talbot) after the English commander responsible for its repair during the Hundred Years' War. It is a tall round tower, similar design to the towers built at Gisors and the medieval Louvre.Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840, Château de Falaise has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
A programme of restoration was carried out between 1870 and 1874. The castle suffered due to bombardment during the Second World War in the battle for the Falaise pocket in 1944, but the three keeps were unscathed.