U obecního dvora 798/5: House of the Censors

The short mediaeval street near the Convent of Saint Agnes has a fascinating history. In the Middle Ages, Prague’s Municipal Court (Obecní dvůr) had its seat here. Two doors away sat the Censors, whose job it was to control publications. This task was carried out with some fervour until the mid-nineteenth century – even though a free press had existed since 1781. The initial over the door is that of František Antonín Mayer, one of the most feared of all censors, who had the house remodelled in 1795.

Next door, as the plaque records, ‘in house number 799 was born on 12 May 1820 the Czech painter Josef Mánes’. Mánes was one of a great dynasty of Prague artists and the man responsible for the addition of the months and zodiac signs to the mediaeval Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square. His father Antonín, the father of Czech landscape art, had had his studio in the turret of the House of the Censors.