Wednesday, July 25, 2018


Our first duty in Prague was to admire the beautiful white swans which inhabit the river city.. then it was off to the Old City Square and an architectural tour..

Awakening on our last morning on the boat, I looked out to see a mother swan and little sweet and charming...

Soon we were on our way to Prague Castle, high on the hill overlooking the city.  The complex includes the home of the Czech Head of State, the historic St Vitus Cathedral, and a series of historic churches and museums.

Our first destination was a tour of the only privately owned palace within Prague Castle, the Lobkowicz Palace:

Google image

Our group had a private tour, and we were ushered into this, the concert room:

Google image

Once seated were greeted by William Lobkowicz (b. 1961).

This charming and engaging Prince with an American accent presented the remarkable story of the Lobkowicz family, dating back to the 14th century.
Interesting family members include Nicholas of Lobkowicz (1378-1435), the supreme scribe to King Wenceslaus IV; Jiri Popel z Lobkowicz (1551-1607) who founded a Jesuit college, and became the Court Administrator at the Imperial Court.  The family intermarried with the Habsburg empire and as Catholic nobles, in 1624 Zdenek Vojtech Popel z Lobkovic was granted the title Imperial Prince by Ferdinand 11, and thus the first hereditary Prince Lobkowicz.  

In the 18th century, the 7th Prince Lobkowicz was a patron of Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven.  For seven centuries, the family has been integral in the preservation of Czech culture, and have amassed significant culturally significant collections of art and archival materials in Central Europe.

Following World War I, and the foundation of the Czechoslovak Republic, the then Prince Lobkowicz, Maximilian, opposed the rise of Hitler in Germany.  Listed to be arrested after the 1939 occupation, he escaped to London during the war.  After the communist took over in 1948, the family again fled and all the family property was seized.

Ten castles, and hundreds of thousands of objects were taken over by the state.  The family relocated to the United States, and two generations passed.
William (b.1961), the grandson of Maximilian, was educated at Harvard majoring in European history, and began a career as a realtor in Boston.

Following the fall of the communist government in 1989, William moved to the Czech Republic in 1990, speaking very little Czech.  He told us that new laws had been enacted to allow restitution of property, but it was a long, difficult and costly legal process.  His father financed his first efforts, and over a period of 22 years, the palaces and much of the collections have been restored to the family.  Some buildings have been sold to finance the restoration of the four palaces now open to the public and maintained by the family.

Most breath-taking of the objects (for me) were the rooms of antique musical instruments, the portraits and the original hand-written manuscripts of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven...

Antonio Canale called Canaletto (1697-1768) The City of London from the River Thames with St Paul's Cathedral 1748
and the Canaletto!  This was on loan to London during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year.

William now spends his life sharing his family's cultural collections, overseeing the properties which are used for concerts and other public events, and continuing the research into the family history.
We wished him well and enjoyed his story very much.

A few steps away from the palace stands the beautiful St Vitus' Cathedral..

Alphons Mucha, Stained Glass window 1931

While the cathedral is 700 years old, restoration during the 20th century saw the installation of a beautiful window designed by Art Nouveau artist Alphons Mucha.

The silver tomb of St John of Nepomuk, the saint of Bohemia.

and of course, 'Good' King Wenceslas:

Nearby, the swans of Prague..

and if that wasn't enough excitement for one day, we went off to the Opera that night, to see Romeo and Juliet - set in an Italian Art Deco hotel in the 1950s.
And it worked!



  1. Thank you for the wonderful photos of Prague. It does remember me to the time we spend there, a long time ago....sweet memories.

    1. Hello Janneke, I am glad you liked the photos, which don't do it justice! It is a very beautiful place indeed.

  2. This is very fascinating, Trish. I am impressed by many aspects. I don't know how the Lobkowicz family had enough money to go through the legal system to get back many of their possessions. I am also amazed that their valuables weren't lost, dispersed and stolen over the decades.

    How did the city survive the war. Looks like it was not bombed.

    As beautiful as Prague is, I'm impressed that anyone would leave the only home and culture they know to go live in another foreign country ... that is if you already live in a first world country. He must have felt a calling to preserve history and his family's legacy. The last thing I will mention, is luckily the family had a business sense. It's one thing to want to turn palaces into museums and public concert venues, but it takes a clear focus and know-how to actually pull it off. Bravo to the Prince!

    1. Thank you Debra. Some things were not explained, but it was never stated that they left without funds, so perhaps there were Swiss bank accounts or similar. Maximilian became Czech Ambassador to Great Britain in London during the war. The properties were seized twice, first by the Nazis then after 1945 by the Communist regime. The city survived the war for a creepy reason: Hitler ordered it to be kept intact to become a Museum to the Vanished Race!! that is the Jewish people. I don't know how the family was employed in Boston but William obviously was raised with knowledge and pride of his family history. He began the search in 1990 by going to public records in both Germany and Czech Republic. The Nazis had confiscated art and collections but always had records. William found the family archives early on, and they could be used to prove ownership. The Czech palaces and castles were requisitioned (twice) and used for other purposes eg military schools. Some of the contents were packed away and stored at the sites, others became part of public museum collections during the Communist years. There is no doubt the whole family have good business sense, for example they have sold some properties to fund the entire project. William travels the world to fund-raise as well, telling the story of the aim to preserve the Czech history and culture. I did notice he never told us very specific details as to how he found certain paintings, books, furniture etc. but he did say that often he would chase a lead for a long time with no results! There is surely material here for books, film or TV series, and maybe he holds back on the stories for that reason. Good luck to him!

  3. Hi Patricia wow what amazing pics of a wonderful country,thankyou for sharing my friend xx

    1. Thank you, it was very stunning ... and different from Australia! xx

  4. Dear Patricia - what a wonderful trip you had - Prague is such a beautiful city to visit, and I am sure that you were charmed by it. The medieval architecture is splendid and I love the way that it is interspersed with some magnificent Art Nouveau buildings too.
    How privileged you all were to have a private tour of the castle and be greeted by Prince William Lobkowicz, and then to finish off the day at the opera - what a memorable and full day it must have been.

    1. Yes, we fell for the charms of Prague immediately Rosemary. I loved that medieval/Art Nouveau mix too, and on our last day we had an Art Nouveau tour which was quite wonderful. It was a weekend to remember!

  5. Replies
    1. Yes Jen, it certainly was. I just found your blog again - I must have missed when you changed over. Will get you back into my blog roll again :)

  6. How beautiful is Prague. . . . . . and your photos took me back to my time spent there some years ago. One of my favorite cities.
    I need to catch with your travels Patricia - looks like you had a great trip!

    1. Yes it is beautiful indeed Mary. I can imagine one will never forget it and I am sure you enjoyed it greatly too. We did have a great trip - and unfortunately a sudden rude awakening when we got home!!

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