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THE POWDER GATE AND THE MUNICIPAL HOUSE

Old town - Prague 1

GPS: 50°5'13.92"N, 14°25'40.08"E

   The Powder Gate, which opens one of the possible entrances to Old Prague Town, is a distinct dominant of Prague and an architectonic jewel. Its predecessor stood in this site at the end of the 13th century, before origin of New Prague Town and it thus worked as an important part of the fortification system. And when Czech King Wenceslas IV built an important political and social centre King’s Court, used even by his successors, in its proximity in the site of the present Municipal House,, it was decided later on to replace the ruined tower with a new one.
   This tower with rich plastic decoration on the eastern as well as in the western side was constructed in the years 1475-1483, based on design by Matěj Rejsek. It got its name due to the fact that gun powder had been stored there once. During 1875-1886 the Powder Gate was modified in a neo-gothic style based on a design by arch. Josef Mocker. At the same time the figural decoration was supplemented with sculptures of Czech rulers and Czech saints. In the corner alcove of the Municipal House there was placed a modern sculpture of Matěj Rejsek, a piece by Čeněk Vosmík.
   North of the Powder Gate there is another jewel of Prague architecture, the Municipal House in Art Nouveau style, which was constructed in the years 1906-1911 on the building plot of the former King’s Court, based on designs by arch. Antonín Balšánek and Osvald Polívka. In the exterior as well as in the interior the building was supplemented with artistic masterpieces of the artists, who belonged among the most outstanding ones at that time. Art crafts were used there to a great degree.
   The magnificent portal of the main entrance of the Municipal House was made of white granite by company of Ludvík Šalda from Prague. Above that there is a large mosaic, Homage to Prague, based on design by Karel Špilar.  
   Historic event of supreme importance occurred in the Municipal House on 28th October 1918, when autonomy of the Czechoslovak Republic was declared there. The government of the new autonomous state and the Parliament had their first sessions there as well. Also the first acts were enacted there.