Malé náměstí 142/3: U Rotta

U Rotta, Prague

The foundations and surviving romanesque cellars of this substantial property on Malé náměstí (Small town square) date from the second half of the 12th century. Five hundred years later, the house — now known by the name ‘The Three White Roses’ — was restyled in renaissance fashion, and a second storey added. But it was the final phase of development in the 1890s that was responsible for the building we see today.

In 1840, a certain Vincenc Rott first established his ironmonger’s on the opposite side of the square, at number 10, So successful was he that by 1855 he had negotiated the purchase of The Three White Roses to accommodate his much expanded business.  Rott’s son Ladislav took over the company in 1872, commissioning architect Eduard Rechziegel to renovate the hardware store in a way that could not fail to promote the name still further.

Constructed between 1895 and 1897, the crowning achievement is the highly-decorated facade containing scenes of largely rural trade and industry. The figures are using tools (including a sickle, a scythe, a rake, and metal- and wood-working tools) which could all have been purchased from this popular retailer. The elaborate paintings were done by A. Hofbauer and L. Novák based on cartoons by the artist Mikoláš Aleš.

In the cartouche above the second floor is written the common benediction ‘Nedej zahynouti nám ni budoucím, Sv. Václave!‘, an invocation to Saint Wenceslas to preserve both the current and future generations. Alas, V.J. Rott’s empire was not to last, but its exquisite facade is preserved for the enjoyment of those making their way to the Hard Rock Café, which currently occupies the premises.