(d. 1552, Praha)

Exterior view

Queen Anne's Summer Palace, Prague

Queen Anne's Summer Palace (Belvedere) is a Renaissance building in the Royal Gardens of the Prague Castle. Dating back to the 1538-1563 period, its construction was ordered by Ferdinand I for his wife Anne of Bohemia and Hungary, though she did not live to see it completed. Constructed in Renaissance-style, it was designed by Paolo Stella, and after his death it was taken over by Bonifaz Wolmut (d. 1579).

The Belvedere was the most important Renaissance building of its time in Central Europe: with its wide arcade at ground level, the building recalls the medieval Palazzo della Ragione in Padua (1172-1219; loggias 1306), while Sebastiano Serlio's Regole generali di architettura (1537) may have provided the pattern for the windows. The roof has a double-S profile, and the upper-floor windows alternate with niches. From May 1538 Stella led a group of Italian masons in Prague who sculpted a series of reliefs - the most extensive of their kind in Central Europe - for the Belvedere.

Paolo Stella created the bottom part of the Palace, i.e. the ground floor and arcade gallery, while Bonifaz Wolmut made the upper floor after 1550. We can see Tuscany capitals as well as reliefs, mostly with antiquity motives, one of them depicting King Ferdinand I and his wife Anne.

Throughout its history, the Summer Palace served various purposes: originally a dancing hall and gallery, under Rudolph II it was an astronomical observatory. Today it is a venue for fine art and artistic crafts exhibitions.