Týn 639/1: Granovský Palace

The area bounded by the churches of St James the Greater and Our Lady before Týn is one of the most well-preserved mediaeval public spaces in Europe. A significant trading place since at least the 12th century, the area was known as both Týn (meaning ‘lightly fortified’, like the English word ‘town’), and ‘Laeta curia’ (‘merry court’, presumably because of its several coaching inns).

The imposition of duty on the sale of foreign goods provided a third name – ‘Ungelt’ – from the old German for ‘customs’.  Records from the end of the 13th century indicate that trading took place in an impressive range of items, including leather, wine, hops, wax, honey, linens and furs, salt, sugar, and grain.  From further afield came glass, minerals, precious metals and silks.

Although most of the courtyard-facing houses were remodelled following a fire in 1689, the expansive Granovský palace retains its exquisite mid-16th century loggia, decorated with chiaroscuro representations of Old Testament characters and stories.  The artist is unknown, but evidence points towards a certain Francesco Terzio, a painter from Bergamo, who worked in the court of Ferdinand I. These delicate drawings have been sensitively restored, most recently between 1981 and 1996.

Judith with the head of Holofernes (left); Pero and Cimon (right)

It was Ferdinand who granted specific rights to Jakub Granovský in return for his work as administrator of the Ungelt.  These included a coat-of-arms and, in 1558, the land on which the palace was built.  The entrance to the Ungelt from Týnská street includes two sgraffito portraits flanking the upper windows, which may represent Ferdinand I on the left, handing a decree to Granovský on the right.

Entrance to the Ungelt courtyard from Týnská street