Sweerts Sporck Palace

The Institute of Translation Studies is situated in the Prague city centre at the Sweerts-Sporck Palace on Hybernská Street, No. 3. The palace is thought to be the last Baroque building to have been erected in the city.

The building known as the Sweerts-Sporck Palace is first mentioned in sources referring to several mediaeval houses on this site in 1463 and 1464.

The Palace frequently changed hands in subsequent decades. At the beginning of the 17th century it was owned by Valentin Kochan of Prachová, who paid with his life for participating in the Estates Uprising, then by the financier Jean de Witte, and later by the father of the engraver Václav Hollar. The premises were evidently unoccupied in the latter half of the 17th century; then in 1694, the dilapidated building was purchased by Count Karl Joachim von Breda, who built a splendid three-storey Baroque palace on the site. The appearance of this palace has been preserved for posterity in the engravings of Martin Engelbrecht of Augsburg. Unfortunately, this building work exhausted all the Count’s funds and he fell into debt. Only a few years later, in 1699, he sold the palace to one of the most prominent personalities of Prague Baroque culture, Franz Anton Sporck (1662–1738).

The Count was a renowned patron of the arts, employing, amongst others, the Baroque painter Peter Brandl and the sculptor Mathias Bernard Braun. The material produced on his printing press at Lysá nad Labem included unconventional religious texts which were regarded with suspicion by the authorities. Consequently, the substantial library of the Sporck Palace was repeatedly visited by senior officials who took suspicious titles away to be censored. Contemporaries were intrigued by the skull of the Count’s mother, displayed in his bedroom as a reminder of the transient nature of life on earth.

However, the palace’s place in the cultural history of Prague owes more to performances by the Italian opera ensembles of impresarios Antonio Denzio and Santa Lapis which continued for a period of almost two decades in a theatre open to the public.

In the second half of the 18th century, Sporck’s grandson Johann Franz Christian carried out extensive reconstruction. His father Franz Karl Rudolf von Sweerts had been adopted by his father-in-law, Franz Anton Sporck, who had no male offspring.

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