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National Museum


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The National Museum in the corner of Wenceslas square is a lonely, large building built in neo-renaissance style. On it s place Horse-gate, one of the gates of the old market stood once. The National Museum was founded by a couple of devoted Czech aristocrats and peers in 1818, about in the same time, when count Ferenc Széchenyi founded the Hungarian one. First the collections of the museum were kept in St. Jacob monastery and from on 1819 in Sternberg palace in the Hradjin. To the final place they were brought in 1846 from Nostitz palace which had been purchased for the goals of the museum.

The palace of the museum was constructed between 1885 and 1890, on the grounds of the plans of Josef Schulz, who dedicated his work to the celebration of the international re-birth. A double row of stairs from the left and the right lead us up to the building with two floors and a mezzanine. It is one of the most monumental buildings in Prague; its front is 100 m long. Its outer ornaments are the middle dome copying the Pantheon in Rome, and two smaller domes on the right and the left wing of the building. Above the parapet of the main stairs we can see allegoric statues of Bohemia, the Elbe, the Giant Mountains, the Moldava river and the Ottava river.

On the two sides of the entrance we can see two allegoric sitting sculptures - one of History and one of Nature Science. The reliefs on the front crowned by the dome: king Wenceslas II founds the monastery in Zbraslav; King Charles IV founds the university, and we can see scenes from the age of King Rudolf II. The reliefs of the tympanon were made also by sculptor Wagner, depicting the patron of science and art. On the four sides of the dome stand the allegoric statues of Generosity, Love of Truth, Enthusiasm and Kove of the Past.

The entrance hall with colonnade is decorated by the sculptures of princess Libuse, the two Premysl reigning princes and king Wenceslas II. Also at the inner stairs of the building we see statues of historical figures, and under the glassed ceiling there are 16 bronze busts of those who have done much for the museum. We can also see relief portrays of Czech kings here, and on the walls of the staircase wee see depicts of the 16 castles in Bohemia.

The most interesting room in the museum is the national Pantheon where we can see portrays and bronze statues of Czech national saints and prominent figures. Also memorial meetings take place here, and prominent persons are laid out here.

In the rooms of the museum several exhibitions wait for the visitors, most significant of them are the archeological, the litho logical, the anthropological, the zoological and the numismatic collections.



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