Straka Academy turns 120

The building that now houses the government was once for poor nobles

The Straka Academy, which is now the seat of the Czech Government, opened 120 years ago as a school dormitory for poor children from noble families.

The neo-Baroque building was built between 1891 and 1896, and opened March 21, 1897, but it had long been delayed. Count Jan Petr Straka z Nedabylic called for the establishment of the building in his will, which was drafted in 1710. He died in 1720. The family money was to go toward educating poor nobles five years after the death of the last member of the male line, which happened in 1771.

The authorities in Vienna caused long delays in the project. Prague was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the time.

The architect of the building was Václav Roštlapil, and it is his most famous work. Roštlapil also designed several building at the Bohnice Psychiatric Hospital.

The construction of the Straka Academy was by Quido Bělský, who was later a minor politician. Decorative statues on the building are by Josef Mauder. The statues around the cupola represent allegorical figures of Faith and Patriotism. Interior decorations are by Celda Klouček and the garden was built under the supervision of František Thomayer.

The building, which is between the Vltava river and Prague Castle, was built long and wide to accent the shape of the Castle and was meant not to detract from the view. The building has two wings that come out at right angles from the end of the main structure to form a so-called courtyard of honor.

The site of the building was a former Jesuit garden. The cost of the Straka Academy exceeded 1 million guilders at the time.

The building only served its original purpose as a dormitory for a short time. During World War I it served as a Red Cross hospital, and after the establishment of an independent Czechoslovakia in 1918 it became full under state administration, and houses some ministries as well as the Czechoslovak Students Union.

During World War II it was rebuilt inside and used by the occupation government as a court. Since May 1945 it has housed the Czechoslovak and then the Czech governments.

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