Monuments and Memorial Sights of Prachatice
Afterwards, it‘s time to start heading upwards towards the Great Square. The Sitr House at No. 13 will soon appear on your right. This house stands on the site of an original Gothic house, reconstructed into Renaissance style in 1604. Looking up at its richly shaped gable, you will surely notice the lunette cornice with the portraits of the Bohemian kings. The Sitr House has been the home of the Prachatice Museum since 1954.
A few steps further will bring you to National House at No. 10, featuring a wall plaque commemorating the renowned violin teacher Otakar Ševčík (1852–1934). He led summer courses for his foreign students here at the Kandl Mill in Prachatice from 1903–1906.
This block of houses is closed on the right side of the square by the Princely House, No. 169 with its richly decorated facade. The sgraffito on this house is also interesting in that it bears an inscription in German – all the writing on the other houses in town are either in Czech or Latin. The house was built in 1572, later to be lavishly reconstructed in 1625–1627. Later it served as the central offices of the Schwarzenberg dominion administration, as demonstrated by the Schwarzenberg coat of arms above the entrance portal.
Just a short ways from the Princely House, on the upper side of the square, you‘ll see the New Town Hall No. 2–3. This building, with its squared corner tower, was built in 1903 in the style of the German New Renaissance, and is the largest dominant of the Great Square. The New Town Hall was built by local builder Rudolf Zobel based on the plans of the Viennese architect professor Anton Schurda. Its decorations are the work of two Viennese artists: academic painter Jan Viertelverger created the sgraffito, while the statues are the work of the academic sculptor Jiří Leisek. If you continue along the square a bit, you‘ll notice a life-size statue of a woman in the niche in the middle of the Town Hall gable, leaning against a sword on her left. This is Prachaticie, the patron and protector of the city. Inside the New Town Hall, there is an impressive exhibition space known as the Winter Garden Atrium. This was formed by covering the courtyard of the Town Call with a translucent construction.
The Municipal Theatre No. 2 has been located in the building connected to the New Town Hall since 1883. This is one of the best spots to view the Old Town with the dominant tower of the church of St. Jacob the Greater. The theatre was reconstructed in 2009–2010 based on the design of architect L. Velíšek.
Building No. 1 is rightfully hailed as the most valuable building in the center of Prachatice, the Old Town Hall. It was built in 1570–1571 on the site of a Gothic building, evidently serving the needs of town administration. The new building was designed as a two-storeyed Renaissance palace with two wings in the courtyard. This is one of the largest of our buildings of its type. The Old Town Hall‘s rich decorations, symbolizing the period of blossom and prosperity during the “golden” 16th century, makes it one of the most important Renaissance buildings in Bohemia. The painted decorations on its facade are worth a closer investigation, executed using the chiaroscuro technique, probably by painter Jan Březnický. The numerous allegorical paintings, scenes, and Latin inscriptions are mostly dedicated to the judicature. They were (and still are) intended to urge the local councillors to lead their administrative offices wisely, honourably, and justly. There is also a persuasive warning to judges against bribery. For visitors to the town, it is also important to note that the Old Town Hall is also the location of the Infocentrum. From the ground floor of the Old Town Hall, you can pass into the courtyard known as “on the arcades”, and look through the representational spaces of the Main Hall and Renaissance Cellars upon request.
Heading downwards from the town square, we come to Bozkovský House, No. 184. This Renaissance burgher house stands out for its short wing, extending from the building‘s ground layout into the square with overhead arches. The extended part of the house is decorated throughout with interesting paintings imitating wall blocks. Part of the surviving writing on the facade informs us that the house was reconstructed in Renaissance style in 1573. Another interesting bit of writing is hidden in the archway of the house, where a painter once complained that “the painting is done, but is not paid”. The Otto Herbert Hajek Gallery has been located on the second floor of this three-storeyed house since 2001.
On the way along the lower side of the square, we can inspect the stone fountain by Ondřej Vlach from 1583. Part of the fountain sculpture features the statue of Justice. This statue was replaced by a bust of Emperor Joseph II in 1903, but was replaced 22 years later. Today, the fountain is a replica from 2006, while the original can be seen in the entrance hall of the Old Town Hall.
From the fountain, we head down towards the single-storeyed house with arches, known as the Rumpál House, No. 41. This building, like the other burgher houses on the square, has Late Gothic origins. It received its later appearance with a Renaissance reconstruction in the later 16th century. In 1671, the building was equipped to serve as the municipal brewery. The building‘s facade decoration is breathtaking, executed with a complex technique known as coloured sgraffito. The artist created a number of antique motifs here as well as mythical animal figures. On the pillars between the windows we can see images of a flutist, a drummer, a soldier, and more.
Continuing down the passageway, we come to the single-storeyed house at St. Christopher (No. 36). This building was built on a narrow lot in approximately the middle 16th century. The first storey of the house, set on shallow corbels, is decorated with sgraffito, uncovered in 1995. The decorations are dominated by the figure of St. Christopher, the patron saint of pilgrims, while below you can see the Rožmberk coat of arms.
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