MICHNA’S SUMER PALACE—VILLA AMERICA

At the beginning of Ke Karlovu Street, opposite the neurological clinic, is Michna’s Summer Palace.  The Baroque garden villa was probably built on the basis of the design of the most significant Czech architect of the time, Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer, between 1715 and 1720, for Count Michna of Vacínov.  Sculptures of an unknown author from the circle of the workshop of Matyáš Bernard Braun were placed in the garden. Michnuv_letohradek.jpg

From 1729, the villa was held by count Karel Josef Desfours; after 1826, the garden restaurant Amerika was there; and since 1843, the garden and the building have been owned by the City.

The villa was also used by the Minerva secondary school for girls and it once served as a welfare home for the poor.  In the neighbourhood of the villa, the City had small houses built, from which cattle trading was controlled.  In 1880, the cattle market was transferred from there to the Blind Gate (Slepá brána), at what today is I.P. Pavlova Square.  The garden gradually disappeared before 1990, due to the building of medical faculties.  At that time, Villa America was nearly torn down; but in 1908, it was renovated and briefly housed a museum of school supplies.

In the 1930s, the Society for the Erection of a Monument to Antonín Dvořák, later the Antonín Dvořák Society, obtained the villa, which then built the Dvořák Museum there.  The exhibition covers the life story of A. Dvořák, offering correspondence, photographs, the master's portrait by Max Švabinský, and his desk, piano, viola, and glasses, as well as the scores for the Slavonic Dances and Symphony No. 9 e minor, from the New World.  The Antonín Dvořák Museum allows for scientific research to be conducted at the villa, and also concerts are held there.

The summer palace is separated from the street by wrought bars, behind which two statues of heroes from classical mythology are located in the elevated garden (the one on the right is probably Hercules).  Both are dated around 1750.  The space to either side terminates with two entrance pavilions.

Behind the summer palace are more statues and two baroque vases adorned with little angels – putti, two sculptural groups of ancient gods, probably Bacchus and Demeter, and on the right probably Apollo and Artemis.  Both groups are dated around 1730.  The garden closes with a bust of an Imperator, from around 1700.

 

ANTONÍN DVOŘÁK MUSEUM

Zveřejněno: 21.06.2011 – webadmin@praha2.cz
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