Lobkowicz Palace

Lobkowicz Palace

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Lobkowicz Palace (Lobkowiczky palac) is one of the museums of Prague Castle and almost certainly one of its most popular sites. It is named after the affluent and influential Lobkowicz family, to whom Lobkowicz Palace passed not long after it was built in the mid-sixteenth century.

Inside Lobkowicz Palace are a range of interesting exhibits which portray the interests and work of this aristocratic family. Pieces in the main collection, known as the Princely Collection, range from ceramics and sixteenth century Spanish art to musical manuscripts by Beethoven, (of whom a member of the Lobkowicz family was a patron).

Beyond the museum element, the architecture and history of Lobkowicz Palace and the history of the Lobkowicz family are fascinating in themselves. One way of enjoying a visit to Lobkowicz Palace is via their free hour-long audio guide.

Prague Castle

Prague Castle (Czech: Pražský hrad [ˈpraʃskiː ˈɦrat] ) is a castle complex in Prague, Czech Republic, built in the 9th century. It is the official office of the President of the Czech Republic. The castle was a seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors, and presidents of Czechoslovakia. The Bohemian Crown Jewels are kept within a hidden room inside it.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world, [1] [2] occupying an area of almost 70,000 square metres (750,000 square feet), at about 570 metres (1,870 feet) in length and an average of about 130 metres (430 feet) wide. The castle is among the most visited tourist attractions in Prague attracting over 1.8 million visitors annually. [3]

The Lobkowicz Family

Our family's return to Czechoslovakia after the 1989 Velvet Revolution was inspired by the seismic world events of that remarkable November.

The call of our lost heritage was urgent and compelling, as was the chance to participate directly in the historic changes taking place in what has been our ancestral home for seven centuries. This was made possible by the passage of three national restitution laws under the inspired leadership of President Václav Havel soon after our return in 1990. Since that moment, we have been fully committed to our dual goals: to restore the family's cultural heritage through the restitution process (now complete) and to make the Lobkowicz Collections and properties available for public enjoyment and scholarly enrichment.

The injustices endured by the confiscations under the Nazi and Communist regimes are behind us. Our family owes current and future generations our uncompromising efforts to carry out our mission. We have always characterized ourselves as managers and custodians of the Collections, establishing non-profit entities to enhance our efforts. As managers, we have created concepts, business plans, and organizational structures to establish physical and financial foundations for support. As custodians, we have developed programming and exhibitions, membership and friends' organizations to be our pillars of educational and cultural outreach. In the near future, we aim to establish the Dvořák House Museum & Music Academy and the Lobkowicz Library & Study Center at Nelahozeves Castle.

We feel we have an unprecedented, historical opportunity. Rather than just preserving, we are actively transforming the Collections into an expanded, dynamic, and contextual cultural heritage. Through creative stewardship, spirited public-private partnerships, and visionary benefactors, we believe we can deliver a truly inspiring connection and lasting contribution to world culture and civil society.

We encourage you to join us on this journey by supporting the initiatives, projects, and programs of the House of Lobkowicz.

The Fabulous and Fanciful Lobkowicz Family

Nelahozeves Castle, one of Bohemia&rsquos finest Renaissance castles

This is both a refugee story and a fairy tale, in which the prince is a born-and-bred Bostonian, lifelong Red Sox fan and proud Harvard man who returned to his ancestral palace to reclaim his family&rsquos stolen legacy. It begins in the 14th century, when the princely Lobkowicz family of Prague emerged as one of the most influential and powerful Bohemian noble houses. Over the next seven centuries, they collected paintings by the likes of Bruegel, Cranach, Rubens, Canaletto, Veronese and Velázquez were the patrons of both Haydn and Beethoven and amassed one of the largest and finest collections of books, manuscripts, musical scores, instruments, decorative arts, religious objects and armaments the world has ever seen.

Fast-forward to 1939, when Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia and Max Lobkowicz (who renounced his title in solidarity with the first Czech Republic) fled to London to serve in the government in exile. As his grandson, William, explains, &ldquoWhen it looked like England would be invaded during the Battle of Britain, thousands of children were sent across the Atlantic for safety, my father and his brothers among them.&rdquo They wound up under the care of Sylvia Warren, an iconoclastic, completely deaf equestrienne/dog breeder who lived in Dover, Mass. &ldquoWe owe her everything,&rdquo says William, whose father, Martin, was raised by Warren until his parents emigrated here.

The Lobkowicz family (from left) Alexandra, William R., Ileana, Sophia, William

Martin went to Harvard, served in the Korean War and became a stockbroker. William, now 58, followed in his father&rsquos academic footsteps and then went into real estate, until the Velvet Revolution of 1989, with the fall of the Berlin Wall. &ldquoI remember the images of Prague,&rdquo he says, &ldquowith all these people pouring into the West German embassy, which happened to be one of the family palaces.&rdquo With his parents&rsquo support and assistance, William decided to return to Prague and seek restitution, not for personal gain, but to rebuild an irreplaceable chunk of history. &ldquoAs corny as it sounds, since I was little, I&rsquod wanted to do this. We always had refugees coming through our house, and I&rsquod ask them about Czechoslovakia. I had an uncle, Prince Franzi Schwarzenberg, who would write me these long letters. It painted a picture that was so compelling, it lit a fire in my belly.&rdquo

St. Wenceslas Chapel, Lobkowicz Palace, Prague

Since 1990, William and his wife, Sandra, along with his parents (although Martin died in 2014), have devoted their lives to recovering the looted patrimony, and while William readily credits the enlightened democracy of late Czech President Vaclav Havel as helping tremendously, it was a Sisyphean legal and logistical feat. After reclaiming four of the family&rsquos properties&mdashLobkowicz Palace (located inside Prague Castle), Nelahozeves (a nearby hunting lodge where Antonín Dvo?ák was born), and Roudnice and Strekov castles&mdashthere was the matter of reassembling &ldquo20,000 movable objects, 10,000 of which are now on permanent public display, and a library with 65,000 volumes.&rdquo All of it needed to be recovered, conserved and catalogued. Among the items: Beethoven&rsquos handwritten receipt for the &ldquoEroica&rdquo Symphony (for which the seventh prince Lobkowicz paid him 700 florins) a manuscript of Handel&rsquos Messiah reworked in Mozart&rsquos own hand Bruegel&rsquos &ldquoHaymaking&rdquo a Canaletto of London when St. Paul&rsquos Cathedral still dominated the skyline and the jaw-dropping Hassenstein altarpiece.

&ldquoIs it an obsession?&rdquo jokes William. &ldquoSure. I lost all my hair. But it&rsquos a worthwhile and wonderful obsession. And I get to do it with my family, in the hope that it can benefit mankind.&rdquo

Perhaps the painting collection is the most captivating. The Lobkowicz family owns Pieter Brueghel the Elder’s Haymaking, one of six panels representing the 12 months of the year each panel symbolizes two months. Brueghel the Elder’s work made a name for itself in Western European painting. It was the first time a landscape was seen in its own right rather than as a backdrop for religious figures. The family also has on display two spectator 18th century views of The Thames in London by Antonio Canaletto.

However, those are just a few of the masterpieces to be seen in the palace. A 16th century painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder shows Mary and the Christ child. The Croll Room features landscapes completed in the 1840s for Ferdinand Joseph Lobkowicz. Robert Croll rendered the Lobkowicz’s in his paintings. You can see Roudnice Chateau and Nelahozeves Chateau, for instance. Engravings of Rome hang in the Firanesi Room while portraits of dogs are on display in the Dog Room. In the Dining Room there are magnificent allegorical ceiling frescoes.


In the 15th century the family split into two lines: Lobkowitz-Hassenstein ( Hasištejnský z Lobkovic ) and the Popel-Lobkowitz line ( Popel z Lobkovic ). The old Czech spelling Lobkowicz of the gender name is also common in Western European literature .

Individual family members

The oldest family member mentioned in writing was the knight Mareš z Újezda ( Maresch von Aujest ). He came from the village of Újezd ​​u Jestřebí (German Aujest bei Habstein ) not far from Bohemian Leipa and lived during the times of the emperor and Bohemian king Charles IV.

His son Nikolaus I. Lobkowitz von Hassenstein , Nikolaus (the poor) ( Mikuláš Chudý Hasištejnský z Lobkovic or Mikuláš I. "Chudý" z Újezda a z Lobkowic , Nikolaus "the poor" from Aujest and Lobkowitz), married to Anna z Nechvalic († before 1411) and Žofka (* 1412), contrary to his nickname, was one of the richest and most influential men in Bohemia. He became a clerk in Kuttenberg in 1401 and received several goods from King Wenceslaus IV for his services , including Lobkovice nad Labem ( Lobkowicz ), which were the basis for further growth. In 1417 he was appointed the highest land clerk in Bohemia , in 1418 he also received the rule of Hassenstein ( Hasištejn ) from King Wenceslaus, initially as a pledge, since 1419 as a hereditary crown fief, as the king was only able to successfully siege the castle there with his support.

Under Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg, with whom he was also in high favor, Mikuláš Hasištejnský z Lobkovic acquired the royal castles Pfraumberg ( Přimda ) and Brüx ( Most ) as well as the Fürchtenberg Castle and the town of Mährisch Schönberg ( Šumperk ) in Moravia . He ceded this property to the Bohemian King Sigismund in 1421 in exchange for the crown rule Frauenberg ( Hluboká nad Vltavou Castle ). Furthermore, he was enfeoffed with the Leitmeritz Castle , the Platten Castle , parts of the rule Klingenberg and the city of Komotau ( Chomutov ).

His two sons started two lines of the family. Both brothers, Nikolaus and Johann von Lobkowicz, were in 1459 by Emperor Friedrich III. raised to the imperial baron status. Only in 1479 the sex in the Czech was Mr. Booth ( Panský stav ) levied. In the Kingdom of Bohemia, no further classifications were formally made at this stage.

The elder Nicholas II received the Hassenstein Castle (Hasištejn) as heir and from then on called himself Nikolaus Lobkowitz von Hassenstein ( Mikuláš II. Hasištejnský z Lobkovic ). The younger brother Johann received the family name Popel von Lobkowitz ( Jan I. Popel z Lobkovic ). Frauenberg Castle (Hluboká nad Vltavou) near České Budějovice . Both branches of the family initially belonged to the utraquist party of the Bohemian nobility. The Lobkowitz boogers converted to Catholicism at the end of the 16th century.

Lobkowitz line from Hassenstein

  • Nikolaus II. Lobkowitz von Hassenstein was able to successfully expand his rule. In 1446 he bought the goods Preßnitz ( Přísečnice ) and Brunnersdorf ( Prunéřov ) from Alesch von Schönburg on Pürstein . He also received Eidlitz ( Údlice ), Kaaden ( Kadaň ) and Komotau ( Chomutov ). He achieved this mainly through his careful tactics and pacts with both the Hussites and the Catholics. He was married to Sophie ( Žofie ) von Žerotín († 1459), died in 1462 and left four sons.
  • Nicholas III Lobkowitz von Hassenstein , Johann and Bohuslaus Lobkowicz von Hassenstein shared the property in 1490, but Hassenstein Castle remained jointly owned. Bohuslaus ( Bohuslav ) Lobkowicz von Hassenstein (1461–1510) became a famous humanist and poet.
  • Bohuslav Felix von Lobkowitz and Hassenstein , Bohemian class politician, new Utraquist
  • Sigismund Lobkowicz von Hassenstein ( Zikmund Hasištejnský z Lobkovic ) († 1546), poet and writer

Line Boogers from Lobkowitz

The Popel-Lobkowitz line split up in the 16th century through division and the acquisition of new estates into several branches of the family, named after their possessions, lords of Dux , von Bilin , von Tachau and von Zbiroh . The youngest branch of the Popel-Lobkowitz was named after the Chlumec Castle, owned since 1474, Chlumetzer Zweig . From this branch the Neustädter , the Raudnitzer and the Hořín - Mělník branch emerged. All of the princes come from the Popel von Lobkowitz line.

  • Johann I. Popel von Lobkowitz ( Jan I. Popel z Lobkovic ), a faithful of King George of Podebrady , managed the Rožmberk Castle, which was leased to him by Rosenbergs, from November 30, 1464 . During the distribution battles between the supporters of the king and the Rosenbergs, Zdeněk von Sternberg , an arch enemy of Johann II von Rosenberg , conquered the fortress in January 1469, took Johann and his son Depolt prisoner and kept them at the castle in Krumlov . Johann fell ill in captivity and died. He was buried in the Church of St. Vitus in Český Krumlov. Depolt remained imprisoned until 1475.
  • Depolt Popel von Lobkowitz , a son of Johann I. Popel, took over the rule of Bilin ( Bílina ) from the Lords of Colditz in 1502 , and in 1527 the rule of Dux ( Duchcov ) was added.
  • Wenzel Popel von Lobkowitz inherited the property and bought the Oberleutensdorf ( Litvínov ).
  • His first son was Johann III. Popel von Lobkowitz (1490 - June 14, 1569 in Prague , married to Anna Žehrovská von Kolowrat ). He rose to the position of court judge of the Kingdom of Bohemia. He owned the Zbiroh and Točník lands .
  • His son Johann the Elder Popel von Lobkowitz (* 1521 † June 18, 1590, married three times) was President of the Court of Appeal and President of the Bohemian Chamber as well as captain of the German fiefdom. He also owned the Opálka fortress .
  • Georg the Elder Popel von Lobkowitz , eighth child of Johann III., (* 1540 † May 28, 1607 as a prisoner in Loket ) was also in the service of the Bohemian crown, as chamberlain, judge and chief steward. He was involved in a conspiracy against Emperor Rudolf II .
  • The second son of Ladislav I, Ladislav II (* 1501, † December 18, 1584) was married three times. He owned the lands around Chlumec . He was a member of the Privy Council , became court marshal and royal court master. Ladislaus II von Lobkowitz received the Heideck fiefdom Neustadt and Sternstein from Emperor Ferdinand in 1562 .
  • The son of Ladislav II., Zdeněk Vojtěch Popel von Lobkowitz (Zdenko Adalbert, born August 15, 1568, † June 16, 1628 in Vienna ), like his father, became court counselor and in 1559 supreme chancellor of the crown of Bohemia. He married Polyxenia, née von Pernstein , widow of Wilhelm von Rosenberg . Through this marriage, the family received the rule of Raudnitz (the property there has been in the possession of a line of the family again since 1990). Zdenek Adalbert played a key role in the re-Catholicization of Bohemia. In 1623 he was made the first prince of Lobkowicz (see list below). In 1641 the Fürstete Grafschaft Störnstein was formed from the lords of Neustadt and Störnstein , ensuring the imperial immediacy of the house. 1653 Seat and vote in the Imperial Council of the Reichstag as a (real) Imperial Prince (until 1806).
  • Ladislav III. ("The elder") Baron von Lobkowicz, imperial councilor, marshal and military governor in Hungary 1580, (* 1537 † March 11, 1609) ⚭ Countess Maria Magdalena von Salm-Neuburg (* 1548 † July 23, 1607). The marriage took place in Pressburg ( Bratislava ) on September 23, 1565.
  • Son of Zdeněk Vojtěch Popel von Lobkowitz, (Václav) Wenzel Eusebius von Lobkowicz , 2nd prince, (born January 20, 1609, † April 22, 1677) was president of the court counselor at the court of Emperor Leopold I and accumulated further fortunes for him Raudnitzer Branch to the family.
  • From 1665 to 1697, Count Wenzel Ferdinand Lobkowicz , an important diplomat of Emperor Leopold I for Bavaria , Spain and France , ruled Bilin (Bílina) . In 1720 the Bilin branch of the family died out and the property came into the hands of the Lobkowitz family from Raudnitz ( Roudnice nad Labem ).
  • August Longin von Lobkowitz was not only active in many national and educational associations, but also active in politics and became Imperial Chancellor and under Emperor Charles VI. 1734 President of the Mining and Mint Chamber at the court.
  • An important politician of his time was Georg Christian von Lobkowitz (1835-1908), Marshal of the Bohemian Crown and member of the Bohemian state parliament. He vehemently defended Bohemian law against the national policy of Cisleithania coordinated in Vienna .
  • His successors were his son Bedřich (Friedrich) von Lobkowicz and, in 1923, his son Georg Christian Lobkowicz , a well-known racing driver who had a fatal accident at the AVUS race track in Berlin in 1932 . Bedřich's cousin Otakar Lobkowicz followed him. After 1918, both before and after the defeat of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany, and after the Second World War , the Lobkowicz people always embraced their Czech tradition, although the nobility in Czechoslovakia was abolished in December 1918.
  • Maximilián Lobkowicz from the Raudnitzer line became the Czechoslovak ambassador in London . In 1989 he returned to Czechoslovakia with his family and in 1991 was given back part of the family property. His son William Lobkowicz was born in Boston in the US state of Massachusetts .

When the Communists came to power in 1948, all branches of the Lobkowitz family in Czechoslovakia were largely expropriated, as had been the case before by the Nazi occupation regime. After 1948, some members of the family therefore emigrated. a. to the USA , later to Germany or Switzerland . All of the members of the extensive Lobkowitz family who had returned, as well as those who remained at home, were able to regain parts of their former property due to the restitution laws of 1991.

Prince of Lobkowitz

Main line (1623-1918)

  • Zdeněk Vojtěch Lobkowicz (1568–1628), 1623 1st Prince ⚭ Polyxena von Pernštejn , daughter of Vratislav von Pernstein ,
  • Václav Eusebius, 2nd prince Lobkowicz (1609–1677), his son, 1628 prince, 1646 duke of Sagan , ⚭ I Johana Myšková ze Žlunic ⚭ II Count Palatine Augusta Sophie von Sulzbach, daughter of Count Palatine August
  • Ferdinand August Leopold von Lobkowitz (1655–1715), his son, 3rd Prince Lobkowicz, Duke of Sagan, ⚭ I Countess Claudia Franziska von Nassau-Hadamar, daughter of Prince Moritz Heinrich von Nassau-Hadamar ⚭ II Maria Anna Margravine of Baden-Baden, daughter of Ferdinand Maximilian ⚭ III Countess Marie Philippine von Althann, daughter of Wenzel Michael Franz ⚭ IV. Princess Louise von Schwarzenberg , daughter of Ferdinand Wilhelm Eusebius, 2nd Prince of Schwarzenberg
  • Phillip Hyacinth von Lobkowitz (1680–1737), his son from his first marriage, 4th Prince Lobkowicz, Duke of Sagan, founder of the Raudnitzer branch of the Lobkowicz Boogers ⚭ I Countess Eleonore Caroline Charlotte Popel von Lobkowicz, daughter of Count Kryštof Ferdinand, ⚭ II Countess Anna Maria Wilhelmine von Althann, daughter of Count Michael Ferdinand
  • Wenzel Ferdinand Karl (1723–1739), his son, 5th Prince Lobkowicz, Duke of Sagan
  • Ferdinand Philipp (1724–1784), his brother, 6th Prince Lobkowicz, Duke of Sagan, ⚭ Princess Gabriela Maria von Savoyen-Carignan, daughter of Luigi Vittorio, 3rd Principe di Carignano. In 1745, Prince Ferdinand, a talented violinist, traveled to London accompanied by Christoph Willibald Gluck .
  • Franz Joseph Maximilian von Lobkowitz (1772–1816), his son, 7th Prince Lobkowicz, last Duke of Sagan (sold to the Duke of Courland in 1786), in 1786 1st Duke of Raudnitz, ⚭ Princess Maria Karoline zu Schwarzenberg, daughter of Prince Johann I. zu Schwarzenberg
  • Ferdinand Joseph (1797–1868), his son, 8th Prince Lobkowicz, Duke of Raudnitz, ⚭ Princess Maria of Liechtenstein
  • Moritz (1831–1903), his son, 9th Prince Lobkowicz, Duke of Raudnitz, ⚭ Princess Maria Anna zu Oettingen-Oettingen a. Oettingen-Wallerstein, daughter of Prince Friedrich Kraft
  • Ferdinand Zdenko von Lobkowitz (1858–1938), his son, until 1918 10th and last Prince Lobkowicz, Duke of Raudnitz, ⚭ Countess Anna Bertha von Neipperg, daughter of Count Erwin von Neipperg

Second line (1722-1802)

  • Georg Christian von Lobkowitz (field marshal) , second son of Prince Ferdinand August, field marshal, founder of the Hořín-Mělník princely line
  • Joseph Maria Karl von Lobkowitz (1725–1802), his son, Field Marshal General and diplomat

Owner of the family estate since 1918

The Czechoslovak Republic revoked the titles of nobility on December 10, 1918. According to German nobility law , which also applies to the former crown lands of the Habsburg monarchy and is officially documented in the Genealogical Handbook of the Nobility , the head of the house continues to bear the nobility title Prince Lobkowicz, Duke of Raudnitz and the other members of the house the title Prince or Princess (addressed Your Highness ). In Belgium, the Lobkowicz with the equivalent salutation "Altesse Sérénissime" belong to the princely and ducal noble families by royal Belgian decree of August 31, 1957 and diploma of February 12, 1958.

  • Ferdinand Zdenko (previously 10th Prince) Lobkowicz (1858–1938), see above
  • Max (imilian) Lobkowicz (1888–1967), his son, ⚭ Gillian Margaret Somerville Expropriated by the Nazi regime in 1939, restitution in 1945, again expropriated by the communist regime in 1948
  • Martin Lobkowicz (born 1928), ⚭ Margaret Brooks Juett received most of the property back under the 1991 restitution laws
  • William Lobkowicz, his son. He is the current owner of the Lobkowicz Palace in Prague Castle (on the Hradschin ), where he has set up an important art history museum. He has his private residence in the Nelahozeves Castle and is also the owner of the Střekov Castle .

Heads of the Lobkowicz House

  • Jaroslav Lobkowicz (1877–1953), cousin of the 10th prince, after Max Lobkowicz resigned he became head of the Lobkowicz family, ⚭ Maria Theresia Ernestine Countess von Beaufort-Spontin
  • Bedřich (Friedrich) Lobkowicz (1907–1954), his son
  • Jaroslav Lobkowicz (1910–1985), his brother, ⚭ Gabrielle Countess von Korff , called Schmising-Kerssenbrock
  • Jaroslav Lobkowicz (* 1942), his son, politician, owner of Křimice Castle in Pilsen , ⚭ Elizabeth de Vienne

Czernin Palace

The Czernin Palace (Czech: Černínský palác) is the largest of the baroque palaces of Prague, which has served as the offices of the Czechoslovak and later Czech foreign ministry since the 1930s. It was commissioned by the diplomat Humprecht Jan Černín z Chudenic, the Habsburg imperial ambassador to Venice and Rome, in the 1660s. [1]

The palace features stuccos by Italian artists. [2]

In 1666, Humprecht Jan Černín purchased a part of the debt loaded property of the House of Lobkowicz, including a building plot with gardens located in the centre of Prague. In 1668, he commissioned Francesco Caratti, a Swiss-Italian architect, and assigned him to develop the project of his new palace on the site.

The next year, building contractors Gione Decapaoli and Abraham Leuthner started construction. The plasterers Giovanni Maderna and Giovanni Battista Cometa were replaced by Francesco Peri and Antonio Travelli in 1674.

Practical information

The Prague Panorama Tour at Lobkowicz Palace

Prague Castle visitors can now "tour" the breath-taking Prague cityscape from an exclusive perch – the terrace of the Lobkowicz Palace. While enjoying the stunning 180° view, they are entertained and enlightened by a recorded commentary by the Palace owners, William and Alexandra Lobkowicz who share their insights, stories and remembrances. The audio tour provides a perfect introduction to Prague’s history and its most important sites.

Not to Be Missed: The Lobkowicz Collection in Prague

Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Haymaking 1565

This year I returned to visit one of my early paintings commissioned by the Prince Lobkowicz family. It is a portrait of their daughter. Since the time that I painted the portrait, the Czech Republic returned to them much of their property, including a number of their castles and their artwork. The Lobkowicz family has the finest collection of European Paintings in Central Europe. I had seen the collection 10 years ago on exhibit at one of their castles, Nelahovenes while I was speaking at the opening of the art collection at the U.S. Embassy residence in Prague. My painting Reunion at Dusk was on exhibit at the U.S. Embassy residence through the U.S. State Department's Art in Embassies Program and I was invited to speak about my 9/11 series of paintings.

That first visit 10 years ago was a private tour through Nelahozeves Castle located 35 km north of Prague, high above the Vltava River. I recall the impressive Renaissance architecture as well as waiting in the Grand Drawing Room with important paintings by Jan Brueghel the Elder, Rubens, Veronese and Panini, along with exquisite pieces of pietra dura furniture. Situated below the Castle is the birthplace of the Antonín Dvořák. The house, owned by the Lobkowicz family and operated by the National Museum, is known as the Antonín Dvořák Memorial with an exhibit that focuses mainly on the composer's childhood and youth.

The Lobkowicz family has had the Lobkowicz Palace, part of the castle compound in Prague, returned to them which now houses their incredible collection as a museum. The museum is not to be missed for a number of reasons. This extraordinary collection offers visitors the opportunity to explore the history of Europe through the unique perspective of the Lobkowicz family.

I walked through the 22 well presented galleries visiting masterpieces by Canaletto and Velázquez an impressive display of family and royal portraits fine porcelain, ceramics and rare decorative arts dating from the 16th to 20th centuries as well as an extensive collection of military and sporting rifles from the 16th to 18th centuries. It was, however, the music room where I had to catch my breath. The Lobkowicz family were patrons of Beethoven and Mozart and on exhibit were original scores and manuscripts by both, including Beethoven's 4th and 5th symphonies and Mozart's re-orchestration of Handel's Messiah. Beethoven dedicated his Eroica Symphony to Prince Lobkowicz as well as two of my other favorite symphonies, the 4th and 5th. For me it was exciting to think that the same family who were patrons and commissioned artworks of Beethoven and Mozart also commissioned a painting of mine thirty years ago.

The audio guide (which is free) is unique to this collection. The current Prince Lobkowicz and his family narrate and talk about the collection and the 600-year history of the Lobkowiczes, including the dramatic story of how the family lost everything twice and got it back -- twice. In 1939, the invading Nazi forces confiscated the Palace along with all other Lobkowicz family properties. The Palace was returned in 1945, only to be seized again after the Communist takeover in 1948. For the next forty years, the Palace was used for a variety of purposes, including State offices and as a museum of Czech history. After the Velvet Revolution of 1989 and the subsequent fall of the Communist government, President Václav Havel enacted a series of laws that allowed for the restitution of confiscated properties. Following a 12-year process, the Lobkowicz family once again became the rightful owner of its palace in 2002. It is by far one of the most unique and engaging audio guides I've come upon.

At 1:00 p.m. every afternoon there is a classical music concert performed in the beautifully decorated 17th century baroque concert hall with a varied program of solo and ensembles presenting works by Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, and 19th century Czech composers, Dvořák and Smetana. Concert tickets may be purchased online at

There is a great view from the Lobkowicz Palace Café terrace of Prague and the café is also a good place to take a break. I enjoyed a visit with Prince William Lobkowicz over a cup of peppermint tea. There is a nice selection of foods, homemade desserts and a fine array of award-winning Lobkowicz wine and beer. The Lobkowicz Palace website highlights the various museums, history and other helpful information.

Bohemian Rhapsody: Tour Of Prague With A Czech Prince

"Let's take the red carpet. Why not?," says William Lobkowicz, as we veer around the pillars of Prague's venerable Estates Theatre. We are smiling at ourselves as the camera flashes begin strobe-ing, two American guys measuring--without having to say so--the distance from our images of Oscar night to this rather more subdued opera premiere in the Czech capital.

But whether the four or five paparazzi shouldering in here realize it or not, they've just photographed one of their country's most important cultural celebrities. Fifty-one-year-old William Lobkowicz--Prince William, if the Czech Republic permitted noble titles--a onetime real estate broker from suburban Boston, has taken up where about 1,000 years of his family left off after British Intelligence arranged his grandfather's escape from the Communists in the 1940s: Lobkowicz manages a defining portion of the Czech patrimony and, with it, a key to the country's future.

Tonight's performance isn't the biggest opera debut ever at the Estates Theatre--that would be when Mozart premiered Don Giovanni here in 1787--but it is a happening: the first-ever showing on Czech soil of native son Josef Myslivecek's Olimpiade, last performed 235 years ago for the Queen of Naples. Attorney-by-day Pavel Smutny , the mega opera buff who labored for years and called in chits all over to pull this off, steps out from the crowd under the portico to bear-hug Lobkowicz. "We are bringing our culture home," Smutny says, eyes alight. "Because culture is power, don't you agree?"

Down in the theater's basement bar le tout Prague mingles with a crowd of Parisian opera lovers who've flown in for the night. One Frenchman bounds up to Lobkowicz (at 6'4" he is a beacon) and says, "I had the pleasure of visiting your cousin's castle."

Lobkowicz, a genuinely down-to-earth man, but with no phony "ah, shucks" to him, answers, "Oh yes? Which one?"

Whether he means "which cousin" or "which cousin's castle" isn't clear to me, but it's a fair question either way. There are quite a few castles in the family. Lobkowicz and his father had 10 of their own 13 restored to them after the Velvet Revolution--including the whole eastern end of Prague Castle, the city's looming landmark. And cousins abound. We greet several relations in the pre-opera Champagne line before Lobkowicz spots an immaculately turned-out, silver-haired man who looks like the casting call winner for European Statesman. "Hey," Lobkowicz says, "it's the Austrian ambassador." Cousin Ferdinand.

Olimpiade itself is a familiar experience for a reluctant operagoer like me: richly realized scenery, staging and singing yoked to an interminable, grinding clunker of a storyline. But what a night to be in Prague! The Estates Theatre--one of three devoted to opera and ballet in this cultivated city of just over 1 million--is packed and buzzing to the top of its confectionery, blue-gray-and-gilt wedding-cake tiers.

The after-party floats over to the Municipal House (Obecni Dum) , whose anodyne name belies the building's heavily ornamented Art Nouveau exuberance, including its famous murals by Czech hero Alfons Mucha (a banner above the entrance advertises a showing within of Ivan Lendl's own Mucha collection). In the ground-floor French Restaurant, a gala seated dinner--poultry ballottine stuffed with duck foie gras and glazed with truffles, Henriot Champagne--proceeds with much laughter and speechifying in Czech beneath the spectacular gold and crystal chandeliers.

Lobkowicz and I spill out onto the cobblestones sometime after 2 a.m., pleasantly stuffed and about half-loaded, with party-favor tins of Swiss chocolates under our arms. There is an otherworldly quiet in the fog-wisped Old Town lanes, and I have a momentary sensation of coming unglued in time. The past--many different pasts, really--has a way of pressing in upon you unexpectedly in Prague, a city with a long memory, and one that emerged from World War II with its fairy-tale architecture blessedly intact. There is a side-slipping of centuries here that must strike Prince William almost daily as he wanders the halls of the Lobkowicz Palace.

Here is a man who unforeseen, almost accidentally, inherited the trappings of his ancestors--including the castles with their vast, world-famous collections, and a slew of ancillary businesses--but without the immense capital reserves that underpinned it all or the seasoned cadre of managers who guided it. Through two decades of determined effort, Lobkowicz has 112 people on the payroll of his various enterprises, which also include a historic family winery and his own event management company his grandfather Max employed 3,000, a group that included 150 lawyers and accountants alone. William's father grew up riding his bicycle down the endless hallways of 250-room Roudnice Castle, with its 46 house servants William would love to find a school to take the place over. Lobkowicz has scrabbled and scraped and sold off some of what the government will permit him to sell. But exactly how he might raise the funds to protect the rest has kept William adrenaline-fueled since 1990. "We are a high-wire act," he told me that evening at the Municipal House. "If we run out of money we don't have a National Trust to fall into. We have to figure out how to make these piles of rocks pay."

The next time I hear Lobkowicz's soothing Yankee-patrician voice it is issuing through a set of headphones as I tour the mind-bending collections at the 40,000-square-foot Lobkowicz Palace high on Castle Hill overlooking old Prague. Open since 2007, the Palace's collections attracted 45,000 visitors last year, which means that about a million and a half Prague tourists blew it: In a city chockablock with important museums, this is among the small handful you truly should not miss. Centuries of Lobkowicz princes served the Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperors as chancellors, confidants and generals, amassing riches and honors, and consummating dynastic marriages. ("Lobkowiczes and Schwartzenbergs have been marrying each other for 500 years," William had told me.) Apparently, they held on to everything. When Lobkowicz's grandfather Maximilian fled the country hours ahead of the Panzers--thanks to his wife overhearing two German officers boasting on a train--he was among the richest men in Czechoslovakia.

Wandering the rooms of the Lobkowicz Palace is like trying to digest a massively rich chocolate cake all at once. If you don't get hung up on the interconnected history in the portrait galleries, you might get snagged for a time by one of Europe's largest collections of antique firearms, including weapons actually used in battle by the Lobkowicz regiments. Or you might enjoy the rooms of historic musical instruments and scores--Mozart's handwritten reworking of Handel's Messiah, say. The seventh Prince was a great patron of Haydn's and of Beethoven's--Beethoven dedicated the "Eroica" (3rd) Symphony to him and premiered his fourth symphony at a Lobkowicz palace. Plenty of Beethoven here.

Or you may drop in just for the famous paintings, like the two Canaletto views of the Thames that Lobkowicz lent to his eighth cousin Queen Elizabeth, for her Diamond Jubilee last year. Or to my mind the topper of toppers: Pieter Brueghel the Elder's mesmerizing 1565 "Haymaking," a turning point in the history of Western art but deeply moving even if you knew nothing of art at all. Reserve a place at the easygoing midday chamber concert or pause for lunch and the view from the terrace cafe. There's lots more.

"We have a chicken-and-egg problem," says Lobkowicz the next morning on the road to his castle at Nelahozeves (nella-HOSE-eh-vess), about 30 minutes outside Prague. "We want to get scholars and foundations excited about what we have, but nobody knows yet what all is there." Among the head-buzzing swarm of activities that engage his workday is Lobkowicz's determination to turn Nelahozeves into a center of European scholarship, starting with cataloguing his own virgin trove. The family has employed world-class scholars, preservationists and restorers, working bit by bit. But the numbers are daunting: 65,000 books, 35,000 boxes of archives, 700 illuminated manuscripts, 5,000 musical scores.

"Everything we are showing is being seen by the public for the first time," he tells me as we drive up the gentle rise to Nelahozeves, a strikingly lovely Renaissance castle with medallions of black and white inscribed in sgraffito across its exterior. The collections here are entitled "Private Spaces. A Noble Family at Home," and the conceit is that antique Lobkowiczes, circa the late-19th-century era of the tenth Prince, are still roaming about the place, possibly just in the next room.

For people of a certain historical--or voyeuristic--turn of mind, the intimate, re-created family spaces are enthralling. It doesn't hurt that the rooms hold works by Rubens, Veronese, Panini, Cranach and Jan Brueghel, plus masterpieces of Venetian glass, 17th-century telescopes, intricately crafted armaments, northern Renaissance altarpieces . "Trust me," says Lobkowicz at one point, "there isn't a bad thing in the place." And stag-horn furniture very cool stag-horn furniture.

As at the Prague palace, the upper floor holding the main exhibits at Nelahozeves is under 501c3 tax-exempt status and is supported by grants and donations, while the rest of the place has to earn its own keep. "We do a lot to bring the castle to life," says Lobkowicz, including producing concerts--Ren?e Fleming has sung here three times--and festivals like one I've just missed that filled the grounds with glassblowers, falconers, puppeteers and sword-fighting demonstrations. On the overcast morning I visit, the liveliness is provided by a school group of 7-year-olds. Decked out in costumes by the Nelahozeves staff (who dress in period garb themselves), they flit through the rooms ahead of us, an amped-up gang on a lark in tricornered hats and princess robes.

Lunchtime finds us back in the historic city center, in Mal? Strana, the artsy, actually older "Lesser Town" across the Charles Bridge from Old Town. The restaurant is a slightly corny evocation of bygone Mittel Europa called U Modre Kachnicky (At the Blue Duckling) that Lobkowicz and I discovered we both had a soft spot for. We sit in the crepuscular, low-vaulted front room with its peeling blue plaster, heavy velvet curtains and highly polished dark wood sipping a perfume-y Moravian red wine.

As his roast duck and my saddle of fallow deer with rose hip sauce and Carlsbad dumplings arrive, William is tactfully dodging my question about whether the Lobkowiczes or the Windsors are actually the bigger-deal family, seen historically. He does mention that Britain's Tatler had a big-selling issue a few years back with the provocative cover line "Why Prince William Will Never Be King." Inside, the article turned out to be about him rather than Wills, and featured comparative (and overlapping) family trees.

Outside, Lobkowicz points out some architectural details on a building around the corner. "The best thing about Prague," he says, "is just wandering around and feeling like you're the first person to discover things like that." A handsome, balding man with a touch of Chevy Chase to his features, Lobkowicz is still slender and loose-limbed in middle age--it's not hard to envision the national squash champion he was back at Harvard in '83.

"Its like Belgravia in London," he says as we cross the bridge into lilac-scented Kampa Park, "except that the little parks here aren't closed behind gates. It's more than pleasant it's gorgeous. I love to just walk and get lost."

We come to a bridge over a stream, an old mill wheel turning, the bridge's railings clotted like barnacles with thousands upon thousands of small padlocks. "All the lovers come here to lock their love," Lobkowicz says. And sure enough, each padlock bears a pair of names or sets of initials. A patio restaurant nestles under the trees nearby, wooden stands on each table dangling pretzels the size of basset hound ears. "That place looks kind of, I don't know. cozy," he says, pausing a moment. There is a touch of wistfulness in his voice a man realizing he doesn't "get lost" as often as he'd like.

Across the bridge is the gaudy, odd, wonderful John Lennon wall, splashed and overlayered with spray-painted Beatles lyrics, poems, tags, doodles. It was here, near the end of the Communist regime, that the "Lennonists" would paint their hopes and grievances, each mark an affront to the existing order. For Lobkowicz the place has a further history. Over the wall is the cloistered garden of the Knights of Malta, whose master--Lobkowicz's uncle--gave him access to a dilapidated grain shack out back in the early 1990s. "At first, when things would come back to us [from the state], that's where I'd store them," he says. Surprise treasures had to be tucked away somewhere: "I'd sneak in, unload quickly and put a padlock on the shed."

The flow of the tourist stream increases steadily as we approach the Charles Bridge, the air scented with the sugar-and-cinnamon smells of trdlo buns turning on a roaster at an outdoor stand. "I don't get here very often anymore," says Lobkowicz, ushering me into Truhl?r Marionety. Praguers love their puppets, and Lobkowicz's three children, whom he and his American wife, Alexandra, have raised here, were no exceptions. Truhl?r--a place hung like a meat-house with pricey jaw-snapping fish, violin-playing fairies and astonishingly articulated knights--supplied all the Lobkowicz home theater needs in the years before adolescence set in.

A few doors down is the discreet gray exterior of ARTEL, one of Lobkowicz's pilgrimage spots. A labor of love from New York-born glass artist and tastemaker Karen Feldman (her choices for enjoying Prague accompany this article), ARTEL's two small shops are packed with prizes, including her own bespoke glasses and bowls. In a city full of heavy-stemmed colored glassware, Feldman's intricately inscribed creations look ready to float off the shelves. Her eye for special--if eccentric--gifts has also not deserted her since my last trip to Prague. I leave with a sackful of things I hadn't previously been aware of needing, including a giant red eraser shaped like a rhinoceros.

On the way out Lobkowicz points out a version of the complexly crafted sakura bowl, hand-painted with Japanese cherry blossoms, that he and Feldman conspired to create for Alexandra's last birthday. "Karen," he says, "is just one of those people in life who care enough to keep at it and do something exactly right. People like that energize me."

As we head up the street to St. Thomas, the magnificent Gothic church founded by Good King Wenceslas and closely bound up since in Lobkowicz family history, I reflect that William could as well be talking about himself. At lunch that day he'd said, "The thing about my ancestors is that some were lucky, some weren't--maybe they were on the wrong side of a battle or whatever--but they all put their skin in the game. Well, it's my time to put some new skin in the game."

For all the constantly pressing concerns that arrived in the same giant sack with his surprise inheritance, William Lobkowicz is a happy warrior, deeply engaged in important work, soul-enlivened. Who is to say that he isn't among the richest of his line?

Watch the video: Lobkowicz Events Management - Lobkowicz Palace (June 2022).

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