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2. Belvedere

The Belvedere is the jewel of the Royal Garden.  It is a prime example of Italian Renaissance.  Upon seeing its arcades, Ionic columns and reliefs depicting mythology, wars as well as scenes from hunts, it is evident why this building is considered the most beautiful example of Renaissance north of the Alps.  It was meant to be a gift for Queen Anne from her loving husband Ferdinand I of Hapsburg.  Sadly, the beloved queen died during her fifteenth childbearing.  The royal couple thus could not enjoy the beauty of the building but they were immortalized in its decorations – one relief shows the king as he presents Anne with a flower.  The keel-shaped roof is also noteworthy.  It was originally painted red and white and decorated with signs symbolizing the Czech kingdom.  The palace was most widely used at the time of Rudolph II.  Not only did he convert the first floor into an observatory, where one could meet famous astronomers such as Tycho Brahe or Johannes Kepler, but he also installed a part of his artistic collections there.  He certainly would not have done it, had he known, that the place was doomed to dilapidation and, what is even worse, to plundering of Swedish troops during the Thirty Years’ War.  Some of the stolen objects are now placed in French Louvre.