The largest Prague Palace
The Duke of Frydlant, Albrecht Vaclav Eusebius von Wallenstein, was born in Heřmanice u Jaroměře. During the Thirty Years’ War, he was the great general of the imperial army and he is considered to be one of the most world-renowned Czech figures. Waldstein was a ruthless and ingenious soldier, who joined the winning side during the uprising against Habsburg, and later, during the Thirty Years War, he had an incredible military career. He was also a skillful merchant and entrepreneur. Although he gained most of his property by confiscating them while he was a general, he was properly managing his funds with economic methods that exceeded his time. Therefore, his domain, stretching from Frýdlantu to Jicin, was called the Terra felix. Waldstein was one the richest aristocrats of the time and he was showing his wealth in a spectacular way. In Prague he gained an enormous amount of land, on which he built a palace that was with its pomposity and decoration more than comparable to the Prague Castle.
The great palace complex was built in the years 1624-1630 and it waz designed by the Italian architects, Andrea Spezzi, Giovanni Batista Pieroni and Nicola Sebregondi. The area measures 340 meters at its widest point and it reaches 172 meters. The main residential part has two wings, the complex has a stable wing, there is a building for the servants and also a huge garden. From the south side, the complex was covered with a high wall. The palace is a great example of the transition between the Renaissance and the Baroque. Today, the visitors can admire the Main and Knights Halls, the Leather Saloon, the Mirror Hall and the Waldstein´s office. The Main Hall is two-stories high and the ground size is 24x12 m. It is decorated with fresco by Baccaio di Bianco and Waldstein is portrayed here as the god of war, Mars, on the chariot. The mythological themes also appear in the Ovid Corridor and in the Audience Chamber. The palace is connected with the sala terrena, which was the first building of its kind in Bohemia. It is a 30-meters high loggia, vaulted with three arcades. It is richly decorated with frescoes and antique motifs and today, it serves as a concert hall, respectively the orchestra pit. There is a nice view over the Waldstein Gardens from the sala terrana. The Waldstein garden is designed in the Baroque-Italian style with an artificial cave - stalactite grotto, as well as with an aviary and a pond. It is decorated with mythological statues by the Dutchman, Adrian de Vrien. The original statues were taken by the Swedish army at the end of the Thirty Years War and the statues that stand there nowadays are copies from 1914.
Albrecht von Waldstein wanted to be the Czech king and on his estates he mint original coins. He also wanted to establish a university in Jicin but he became too rich and powerful that he became a threat to the emperor. In 1634, he was murdered in Cheb and now, his palace is admired by tourists from all over the world. Today, the palace houses the Senate of the Czech Republic.