About Alchymist Prague Castle Suites
Alchymist Luxury Group
The Alchymist Prague Castle Suites is truly a jewel in the Alchymist Luxury Group crown. This aged residence, with the intriguing name of “At the Turk’s Head,” envisions a visitor’s stay in Prague as something more than simple accommodation at a five star hotel as we believe in the value of experience.
If you are looking for unique accommodation and you are fan of heritage tourism, this residence is definitely the right place to stay.
The Alchymist Prague Castle Suites resides in an area that has witnessed many important events in Czech history.
The first written mention of the mansion dates back to 1415 when the house was owned by an important representative of the Czech Catholic nobility, Mikuláš Zajíc z Hazmburka, who was a strong opponent of the Hussites and great supporter of the king. During the 1420 Hussite uprising, the Lesser Quarter was gravely burned and devastated. Unfortunately, Mikuláš Zajíc’s home received the same fate and was sold as “wasteland” for a very low price in the 1460’s. It was then rebuilt and, towards the end of the 15th or beginning of the 16th century, the two adjacent houses were joined to form the present mansion. During the beginning of the 16th century, the house was inhabited by Albrecht Rendl of Ušany, the Vice Chamberlain of theKingdom ofBohemia, and in 1518 the house was sold to Squire Wolf Ždárský. In 1541, another fire desecrated most of the Lesser Quarter, along with the mansion and its surrounding quarters. Renovation work was slow until 1583 when the imperial court of Rudolf II moved toPrague; the Emperor’s introduction into the area resulted in a significant regeneration of the Lesser Quarter as everyone wished for proximity to the ruler.
At this time, the mansion was rebuilt in Renaissance style and bought by the court ribbon weaver, Michael Langrand of Burgundy. In the ten years that Langrand owned the house, its value tripled—another sign of the major construction activities and improvements that he undertook. The Renaissance reconstruction of the house resulted in a two-story building with Renaissance gables that looked like this until the end of the 17th century.
Historical sources affirm that the famous Baroque painter, Petr Brandl (1688-1739) spent six years of his life in this mansion. An entire hall in the National Gallery in Pragueis devoted to the work of this great artist, featuring his superb work, “Bust of an Apostle,” dating from some time before 1725. Brandl is known for his technique entitled impasto, which refers to the laying of paint very thickly onto the canvas so that the brush or painting knife strokes become visible.
In 1687, the widow of Michal Brandl (Petr Brandl’s father) sold the house for 1500 gold pieces to Tomáš Ignác Pretschner, who invested heavily in a Baroque reconstruction of the building. From 1796 to 1804, the house changed owners various times and its value became four times the original amount. It soon became an object of speculation as fast political and social changes within the Empire brought an influx of country folk into towns and, subsequently, and increased demand for living quarters. As time passed, the house was altered many times and in numerous ways in order to achieve the most effective use of space and greatest number of rooms. There is not much information regarding the history of the house during the 19th century, nor its owners or value.
In 1903, Vojtěch Hrstka, a book printer and binder, sold the house to Josef Fanta. Fanta (1856-1954) was a Czech architect, furniture designer, sculptor and painter; he was one of the most prominent representatives of Czech Art Nouveau architecture and created many notable, public works such as the Prague Railway Station. Fanta was also friends with Alfons Mucha, a famous painter and decorative artist whose style is distinctive and easily recognizable. Mucha’s touch can be seen throughout the mansion; when you arrive at the Alchymist Prague Castle Suites, you are bound to notice the beautiful main entrance and balcony railings featuring Mucha’s design.
Permission was granted to Fanta to renovate the house on 14.5.1903 and it is astonishing to reflect that his builder, Frantisek Schlaffer, had completed the renovation work by November of the same year. In stark contrast to this speed has been the care and attention to detail involved in the mansion’s current restoration. Not only have the owner and his team painstakingly researched and restored all the Renaissance, Baroque and Art Nouveau features of the house, but they also had to contend with the approximate fifty years of complete neglect suffered by the property during its period of confiscation by the Communists.
The House “At the Turk’s Head”
If you, like us, wonder why this mansion is nicknamed “At the Turk´s Head,” we will have to disappoint you as we have not been able to uncover any legend or scandal to justify its name. However, we can reasonably presume that the name has some connection with the House of Thun, an ancient aristocratic family that was heavily involved in the wars with the Turks; the Thun Palace, which today houses the British Embassy, is only a stone’s throw away from the house “At the Turk’s Head.”