Troja Chateau

Trojský zámek (Troja Chateau) [No.1/6], is set in a picturesque, natural, landscape on the south Vltava hillside. From the time of Charles IV wine has been grown here and above the Chateau the winegrowers Chapel of St. Clare is still there today. The original name of the Troja community was Zadní Ovenec. The settlement was already mentioned in 1197. Its ownership changed several times and in the 17th century the Lords of šternberk acquired it. Václav Vojtěch of Šternberk, an educated and knowledgable aristocrat built here between 1679 and 1685 a picturesque chateau, one of the finest Baroque country houses north of the Alps.

The selection of the style of the building and its siting in a place not very advantageous from a practical point of view, was motivated by higher intentions than merely a nobleman's whim. The construction of the chateau is largely connected with the endeavour on the part of the Bohemian nobility to improve their status in the post White mountain era: the chateau was built directly opposite the Royal Park, sited on the other bank of the Vltava. The park, a favourite hunting reserve of the sovereign, then did not have the resources suitable for the increasing demands of the court. It was assumed then that the Troja Chateau would be offered to him as a place of rest after the hunt, which could lead to important discussions. The dependence on the sovereign is stressed also by the way the chateau faces into the garden and towards the river and the Royal Park. The sight of Prague Castle, clearly visible from the monumental steps of the Chateau which are on the main axis between the Castle and the Chateau, is a powerful reminder of the ancient rights of the Czech nobility. In order to achieve this affect the architect had to place the building onto an expensive ramp, which altered the natural inclination of the hillside.

This impressive building made heavy demands on the structural and compositional creativity of the Burgundian architect Jean Baptiste Mathey, who was inspired by Italian Baroque villas. (The ground plan does not always imitate the Italian examples in a suitable way: only in the heat of Italy is it advantageous to build the connecting corridors on the south side and the living quarters in the north, fortunately however the Troja Chateau was conceived mainly as a summer residence, and so this imperial meteorological error does not matter.) The main feature of the construction is the large hall occupying the whole width of the building. From outside, access is via the monumental double staircase, whose architectural appeal is strengthened by the sculptural decoration: statues from Dresden sculptors, Jan Jiří and Pavel Heermann depicting the fight of the Olympic Gods with the titans at the stage when the gods are winning (the goddesss of victory herself is on the highest point above the door), and the Titans are hurled into the underworld.

The unique and monumental painted decoration of the interiors, was undertaken by the Italians Francesco and Giovanni Marchetti, and the Dutch painters Abraham and his son Izak Godin. Abraham Godin especially, managed to create in the main hall perfect, illusionary, three dimensional scenes on all sides of the viewer, drawing him into the centre of the action. Every angle opens up views into new areas. The theme of the paintings - a celebration of the Hapsburg family - was also selected intentionally.

The building is in harmony with the Chateau garden, created by the gardener Jiří Seeman probably also according to the design by Jean Baptiste Mathey. It is an Italian garden with a network of paths creating vistas, and decorated with a fountain, statues and ornamental urns. Part of the recently renovated garden contains the orangery and the gardener's house. To the side of the garden and the chateau, an orchard is laid out with paths in the shape of a star, which run from the circular maze of cropped hedges, still not fully grown. On top of that some divergent paths are optically lengthened by trompe l'oeil painting on the garden walls.

Exactly opposite the castle is the entrance into the zoological gardens founded in 1931. Not only children find amusement and instruction in the beautiful natural surroundings.