Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Legend of the Day...The Palace of the Kinskýs

leg·end [lej-uhnd]  
A non-historical or unverifiable story handed down by tradition from earlier times and popularly accepted as historical.

The Palace of the Kinskýs
The Kinský Palace, Old Town Square 

The beautiful Rococo palace of the Kinskýs in Old Town Square was built in the 18th century by the architects Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer and Anselm Lurago for Count Goltz, and only later did it come into the hands of the Kinský Counts.  The palace is striking for its position; it looks as if it has proudly stepped out from the ranks of the surrounding houses and into the square to emphasize its distinction.

The tale goes that when the architect showed the count the preliminary sketches for the palace, he also showed him how splendidly the palace would stand out if it was conspicuously set forward from the row of houses beside it.  Count Goltz was enthralled by the idea, but he knew it would be very difficult to arrange.  First he respectfully asked the Prague counsellors for permission to build the palace further out to the square, but they considered the very idea a piece of impudence and refused to countenance it.  He therefore met secretly with three counselors who had a reputation for being fond of money.  He flattered them, argued persuasively in favor of his plan, and when he also offered a large sum of money, they agreed to grant permission.  The clever count was aware that the battle was not yet over.  

He had a large fence built around the site so that no one could see precisely where the foundations were being laid, and so for a long time nobody had any inkling that there was anything suspicious about the count's construction work.  And by the time the walls of the palace had risen above the fence, it was too late to change anything.  The infuriated counselors immediately called the count to the town hall, demanding an explanation and the immediate demolition of the building.  But the count played the innocent and showed them the official planning permission.  The three corrupt counselors when white as ghosts, especially when the count readily revealed who it was that gave him the planning permission and how much money he had been forced t pay for it.  There was a huge scandal and the three dishonest counselors ended on the gallows.  And the place?  It was left where it was...

After the death of Count Goltz, the palace was bought by family who stayed in the palace until 1945. The Kinský Palace contained a valuable family library, now it hosts collections of the National Gallery