Municipal House (Obecní dům) is a civic building that houses Smetana Hall, a celebrated concert venue, in Prague. The Royal Court palace used to be located on the site of the Municipal House. From 1383 until 1485 the King of Bohemia lived in the property. After 1485, it was abandoned. It was demolished in the early 20th century. Construction of the current building started in 1905 and it opened in 1912. The building was designed by Osvald Polívka and Antonín Balšánek. The Municipal House was the location of the Czechoslovak declaration of independence.
The building is of the Art Nouveau architecture style. The building exterior has allegorical art and stucco. There is a mosaic called Homage to Prague by Karel Špillar over the entrance. On either side are allegorical sculpture groups representing The Degradation of the People and The Resurrection of the People by Ladislav Šaloun. Smetana Hall serves as a concert hall and ballroom. It has a glass dome. There is artwork by Alfons Mucha, Jan Preisler and Max Švabinský, too.
Today, the building is used as concert hall, ballroom, civic building, and as the location of cafes and restaurants. Many of the rooms in the building are closed to the public and open only for guided tours.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.