Újezd 450/40 Michna Palace (Tyrš House)

This sumptuous late renaissance structure in Prague’s Malá Strana district was developed from a property owned by the Kinsky family. After 1623, on the instructions of the new owner Pavel Michna of Vacínov, it was enlarged into today’s five-winged palace, and further enhanced with baroque detailing throughout the first half of the 18th century.

The artist whose hand is most evident in the unfinished east-facing facade is Francesco Caratti (later employed by Count Czernin as the main architect of the colossal Czernin palace near Prague Castle). A splendid avant-corps (pictured above) juts out into what would originally have been a formal garden leading to the riverbank. The exquisite stucco-work, dating from 1644, is almost certainly the work of the master plasterer Domenico Galli.

The Michna palace underwent frequent changes of owner until 1767, when it was purchased by the Austrian government for use as an army barracks. A century and a half later, having fallen into serious disrepair, it was bought by the Czech Sokol organization, a society committed to the physical fitness of the Czech population. The renovation of the building included extensive additions to the estate. A new gymnasium was added facing the courtyard, as well as changing rooms, administrative offices and a subterranean swimming pool. The garden became an open-air athletics training ground.  The entire complex was renamed after the co-founder of the Sokol movement, Miroslav Tyrš.