Prague Castle: Vladislav Hall

Vladislav Hall, Prague Castle

Commissioned by the Jagellon king Vladislav II, this palatial hall was constructed within the walls of Prague Castle between 1485 and 1502. Designed by the master-builder Benedikt Rejt, the hall was used principally for ceremony and entertainment.

Together with Matěj Rejsek, Rejt had been responsible for the second phase of building of St Barbara’s cathedral in the royal city of Kutná Hora, fifty miles east of Prague. His reputation was thus well established by the time he started work on the hall.

On its completion, Rejt connected the hall to the southern rampart wall via the so-called Ludvík wing (named after Vladislav’s son and heir). It was from a window in this tower that the second defenestration of Prague took place.

Vladislav Hall ceiling, Prague

The most striking feature of Rejt’s masterpiece is its late Gothic ribbed vaulting, which carries the ceiling across a span of over fifty feet. Not only was this an astonishing engineering achievement for its time; it also meant that the Vladislav Hall became the largest secular vaulted room of its type in Europe, capable of hosting (among other celebrations) any number of jousting tournaments.

Since the establishment of Czechoslovakia in 1918 the hall has been used for less energetic displays of national prowess, including the inauguration of the Presidents of the Republic. On these and other select occasions, the crown jewels of Charles IV, including the Wenceslas crown (pictured below on its outing in 2016) are displayed in the hall. They are exhibited in a special case designed by Josef Gočár.

Wenceslas crown