Vladislav Hall, Old Royal Palace Prague, 1493-1502
Prague Castle encapsulates in its development so much of the history of the Czech capital, from the early Middle Ages when the Romanesque St George’s Basilica was built, to the first half of the 20th century which saw extensive renovations carried out by Slovenian architect Joze Plečnik. Situated on a hill on the left bank of the Vltava, the castle complex is dominated by the Gothic St Vitus Cathedral and flanked on one side by extensive terraced gardens. One of its most notable buildings is the Old Royal Palace, built at the turn of the 9th and 10th centuries, rebuilt in the 12th and enlarged at various stages during the 15th century. Its spectacular Vladislav Hall, here seen in a photograph of the 1890s, was built by leading Bohemian architect Benedikt Ried between 1493 and 1502. Its elaborate vaults, which serve a decorative more than a structural purpose, create an impression of movement and are almost organic in form. A highly inventive expression of the late Gothic period, they coexist with sober Renaissance features such as the hall windows.