History of the Hall of Mirrors

At the end of the 16th century there were three large halls in which festive and important social gatherings were held in Český Krumlov, the residence of the Rosenberg family. One of them, the so-called Coats of Arms Hall, has not survived. The remaining two can still be seen, but in their altered form as the Hall of Mirrors and the Masquerade Hall. Written evidence about them that dates back to the second half of the 16th century.

Hall of Mirrors in Český Krumlov Castle

Today\'s Mirror Hall was, at that time, designated a Palace. In the inventory, compiled after the death of Peter V von Rosenberg in 1545, we find a brief reference to its furnishings and decorations: "Items in the Palace - two drapes, a carpet cover for two tables, and four bench covers."

According to a report by Václav Březan, on 5th January 1598 this Hall was used as the place where the marriage of Adam Tuněchotský from Poběžovice took place.

The inventory of Český Krumlov Castle from 1607 claims that "in the Palace there were two doors with bars, and five windows with grills. The inventory from 1614 confirms their presence and then continues by stating that there was also a long table, a long bench with a barred backrest, and one empty gilded picture frame. Both previously mentioned inventories are from the period when the Castle belonged to Czech kings of the Habsburg family (1601-1622). It was not permanently occupied, and after Peter Wok von Rosenberg left it in 1602, many of the portable items disappeared. The same number of windows and doors is recorded again in the inventories of the Eggenberg era (1622-1719), from the years1649 and 1664. All these inventories also contain a mention of stoves in the various rooms of the Castle but we can certainly say that there has never been a stove in this particular Hall. It was still referred to as a Palace in the immediate years following the arrival of the Eggenbergs to Český Krumlov. In the Accounts Records from 1625 we read that the glazier repaired a window "in the Golden Palace". It is an interesting record because it uses the old name - Palace, and at the same time, refers to it as "golden". From the 1660s it was known only as the Golden Hall.

In 1677, the floor in the Golden Hall was repaired because the original marble tiles must have become broken and cracked. They were re-set on a layer of lime paste that was intended to strengthen them.

Soon after the Schwarzenbergs occupied the Český Krumlov Castle (1719), the Golden Hall was changed into a theatre hall. The old Eggenberg Castle Theatre was not used from the beginning of the century because it was obviously not suitable. Prior to its radical reconstruction in the 1760s, occasional theatre performances were held in the Golden Hall.

At the beginning of 1768 the then governing Duke Joseph Adam zu Schwarzenberg decided on the complete reconstruction of the Golden Hall. This decision was forced on him for two reasons - the reconstruction of the original Castle Theatre was completed in 1767, and a new ceremonial room was needed for the festival to be held in the summer of 1768 on the occasion of the marriage of Prince Jan Nepomuk. Viennese painters Hans Wetschel and Leo Märkl were commissioned to decorate the Hall. It was at that time that the two windows facing the Courtyard were walled in and the walls were painted with musical motifs and covered with mirrors, which gave the Hall its new name - the Hall of Mirrors. At the same time a completely new wooden floor was installed.

Hall of Mirrors at the Český Krumlov Castle, mural detail

The lives of the following Schwarzenberg generations were concentrated more around their Viennese palaces and the Castle in Hluboká than in the Český Krumlov Castle. That is why they felt the existence of the only ceremonial hall, the Masquerade Hall, to be adequate. The ducal order, issued at the end of 1843, proclaimed that "the dancing Mirror, or Small Hall" be changed into a Library. A rare photograph from 1909 captures the appearance of its interior as it then was.

In 1911 the Castle Library was moved to a different location (what had previously been the Runt\'s Hall with an antechamber). The vacated Hall was then filled with display cabinets containing a collection of ancient garments, and from then on it was known as the "Display Cabinet Hall". The Hall of Mirrors was again empty for a number of years, and was occasionally used for Chamber Music Concerts.

Hall of Mirrors at the Český Krumlov Castle, mural detail, musical instruments and sheet music

The magnificent stonework surrounding the walled-in windows facing the Courtyard indicates that they originate from the same period as the windows and the oriel on the opposite side of the Courtyard, built in 1513 or slightly later. Three windows facing the Deer Garden, once also had stone surrounds of which the remaining sections are now severely damaged.

The remnants of the decorations of the window reveals the one-time Golden Hall, visible from the Courtyard, undoubtedly a valuable source for potential research.


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