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9. 3. 2007 11:19

Kolodeje castle

The castle is located in the ninth district of Prague. Prior to its being incorporated into the Prague city limits in 1974, Koloděje had been an autonomous municipality for 700 years. The beginnings of the village and the fortress are directly linked with the emergence in 1230 of the “Moravian Route” from Prague to the east. The name of the village derives from the wheelwrights who settled at the ford over the river here. Given the uneven nature of the terrain, they doubtlessly had plenty of business. In light of its history, Koloděje can be said to have been predetermined for its present task since the Middle Ages. Emperor Charles IV gifted the fortress to his brother, Jan Jindřich, the Margrave of Moravia, so that: “he would have the convenient occasion to dwell in his (Charles’) vicinity and be in attendance at governmental meetings and courtly festivities in Prague.” In the first half of the 18th century, Jan Adam Ondřej Liechtenstein, the owner at the time, began converting the unsuitable medieval fortress into a Baroque castle. This reconstruction was completed by his daughter, Terezie Anna Savoy, née Liechtenstein (the wife of Count Thomas Emmanuel Savoy, cousin of the prominent commander Eugene Savoy). The original and unusually high tower was incorporated into the new structure, but was subsequently demolished in 1806 when a second substantial reconstruction of the castle took place. At the beginning of the 19th century, the castle took on a Classicist feel. After this, only minor changes were made to the interiors and outbuildings. The castle is a large, three-tract structure with an honorary court closed in by a wall and iron-grated entrances. In the middle of the honorary court, there is a six-pointed star pool with a fountain in the form of two intertwined fish. A fountain with a statue of Neptune is located in front of the garden façade. Thanks to its position just outside Prague, the castle became the temporary residence of President T.G. Masaryk in 1919. Part of the castle was adjusted on a makeshift basis, but the premises were not suited to the requirements of the presidential office, and in autumn 1919 Masaryk relocated from Koloděje to Lány. Between 1937 and 1946, the castle belonged to Antonín Kumpera, who commissioned a general reconstruction and modernisation of the castle (including the installation of central heating). The garden and neighbouring preserve were also restored. After the Kumpera family emigrated, the castle was placed under state administration, and in 1947 it was taken over by the Ministry of the Interior, which set up a training centre for the National Security Corps here. In the 1950s, political prisoners (Otto Šling, Laco Novomeský, Gustáv Husák, and Marie Švermová) were incarcerated and interrogated in the castle cellars. From 1955, the castle was used by the Office of the Presidium of the Government of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (and subsequently by the Office of the Czech Government) for ceremonial purposes, important meetings, and as an occasional base for foreign delegations. On special occasions, the castle is open to the general public.

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