Wallenstein Palace (Czech: Valdštejnský palác) is a Baroque palace in Malá Strana, Prague, currently the home of the Czech Senate.
In the lower part of the Malá Strana you’ll find the decorative and enjoyable Wallenstein Gardens. These beautifully preened and organized gardens are lined with fountains, trees and numerous bronze statues, and it’s free to enter. During the warmer months there are also many free concerts and performances taking place here so make sure to check out the schedule.
The original Palace was built in years 1623-1630 by Albrecht von Wallenstein, Duke of Mecklenburg (1583-1634), who made his name and fortune as the Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial forces in the Thirty Years War. Emperor Ferdinand II feared Albrecht von Wallenstein’s calculating mind and had him assassinated in 1634 in the town of Eger (now Cheb). He lived in the palace for only a year before his death. His widow sold it to his nephew and it remained in the Wallenstein family until 1945. After the Second World War, the palace became Czechoslovak state property and was renovated to house government offices. Today, the Senate of the Czech Republic operates out of the main palace buildings. The Riding School is used as a branch of the National Gallery in Prague. The challenging restoration of the main building began in mid-1999. The most valuable parts of this building in historical and artistic terms are the Main Hall, the Knights' Hall, the Antechamber, the Audience Hall and the Mythological and Astronomical Corridors.
Albrecht of Wallenstein had traveled in Italy, and when the palace was built between 1623 and 1630, Italian architects and artisans were used including Andrea Spezza (likely the main architect), succeeded in 1628 by Niccolo Sebregondi. The interiors were decorated by the Florentine Baccio del Bianco (1604-1656), who completed the ceiling fresco in the Main Hall, figure paintings in St. Wenceslas Chapel, and most important parts of the decoration of the Mythological Corridor during the first year of construction. The Florentine Giovanni de Galliano Pieroni (1586-1654), engineer and army colonel, played an important role in the construction. Pieroni's father Alessandro (1550-1607) had been an architect for the Medici. Pieroni studied the design of the new part to Wallenstein’s Castle in Jičín and the church of St. Jacob there, and the garden, Sala Terrena, and Riding School are attributed to him. Pieroni also influences the astrological and astronomical decoration of the Mythological Corridor and other interiors. The total value of interior furnishings after his death was 70 000 gold pieces, while another 134 000 gold pieces was invested in jewels and tableware made from precious metals.
To make space for this palace, Wallenstein razed 26 houses, six gardens, and two brickworks at the site. Wallenstein Palace was built to rival Prague Castle. Four courtyards are created by the palace layout. Its complex includes period gardens, the Avenue of Sculptures, stables and the large Riding School. The monumental conception of the loggia with three arcades on doubled columns recalls the Baroque style. The Italian style garden includes an aviary, a grotto, and a fountain by Adrian de Vries (c.1545-1626). After years of neglect after the war, the gardens have been reconstructed. Wallenstein would have dined in the huge sala terrena (garden pavilion) that looks out over fountain and rows of bronze statues. The sala terenna and its rich stucco decoration were modeled after the portico of a Livornese church. Today, these are copies of the Netherlander sculptor Adriaen de Vries’ works. The originals were looted by the Swedish army in 1648, and they can be seen today at Drottningholm Palace. Immortal Beloved (film), a 1994 film about the life of Beethoven was filmed in the gardens.