Queen Ann’s Summer Palace is an elegant Renaissance building situated in the Royal Gardens of the Prague Castle. Today, it is mostly used in the summer months as space for fine arts and applied arts exhibitions. In popular folk speech, the locals refer to it as the Belvedere.
Queen Ann’s Summer Palace is one of the first purely Renaissance monuments in Bohemia, and apparently, the first building of its kind north of the Alps. The design of the palace, with its arcades around the whole rectangular structure, was, at the time, ground breaking, even in Italy, the cradle of the Renaissance. Inevitably, Queen Ann’s Prague Summer Palace became an inspiration for many later buildings. The house was officially named in honour of Queen Ann of Jagiellon, whose husband, King Ferdinand I of Hapsburg, commissioned and had it built for her in the 16th century. In reality though, the palace was only used by the Hapsburg family to entertain, from the very beginning. During the reign of Emperor Rudolf II, the house was used as an observatory by the famous astronomer Tycho Brahe.
Today, people visit the summer palace not only for the exhibitions, but also to see the famous Singing Fountain, which has adorned the courtyard since 1558.
If you get to the summer residence outside working hours, do go round and have a look at its rich relief décor on the arcades. The building is circled by an 80cm tall ornamental and figural frieze, 36 columns of the outer arcades are topped with decorated Tuscan capitals and there are 114 reliefs on the walls. Not far from the summer palace, you can also admire another architectural marvel in the Royal Gardens: the modern glass orangery by Czech architect Eva Jiřičná.Vendula