Two houses, interconnected in 1603, used to stand in the place where the Kolowrat Palace is now. At the beginning of the 17th century, the then owner of the house, Vilém st. Popel of Lobkovice, had the house enlarged. The next owner, Maximiliana of Götz, rebuilt the house into a two-storey structure.
Countess Marie Barbora Černínová of Chudenice, wife of the rich Heřman Jakub Černín, bought the palace in the 18th century. The new owners decide to rebuild the house with the help of architect Ignác Palliardi. They also bought the Small Fürstenberg Palace, connected it to the Kolowrat Palace and built a terraced garden. At the end of the 18th century, the palace was owned by the nephew of Countess Černínová, Count Jan Arnošt Schaffgotsch, who had both buildings separated again.
Several aristocratic families owned the palace during the 19th century. The palace was owned by Count Zdeněk Kolowrat Krakovský from 1886 and he rebuilt it, adapted its interior in the Baroque-revival style that can be seen to this day and put his picture gallery, library and collection of coins there. After his death, his son Hanuš Kolowrat Krakovský lived in the palace and added an additional horse stable to its north-west part.
After the end of the WWI, in December 1918, representatives of the new Czechoslovak Republic concluded a lease contract with the owner of the palace and used the 2nd floor as offices for the Ministry of Social Care. The state bought the whole palace in December 1920 and used it as the seat of the Presidium of the Council of Ministers after reconstruction in 1923. Important events relating to the Munich Agreement and Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia took place here.
Currently the premises of the Kolowrat Palace serve as a base for some committees, commissions and caucuses of the Senate. The palace’s lounges host sessions of the Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs or the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security, seminars, discussions or meeting with foreign delegations.
The Green Lounge
The Green Lounge was created during the reconstruction of the Kolowrat Palace in the early 1920’s as a meeting room for the Prime Minister and for meetings of the Council of Ministers. It was named after the colour of its interior.
It was the Green Lounge where the Government, led by General Jan Syrový, held its extraordinary meeting on September 30, 1938. The only point on the agenda was a report about the Munich Agreement. The Czechoslovak Government and President Beneš were faced with the key decision on whether to resist the agreement of superpowers or not. After they had considered all circumstances, a decision to accept the Munich dictate was made.
The acceptance of the Munich Agreement led to fundamental changes. On November 30, 1938, Emil Hácha was elected President and a new Government led by Rudolf Beran was appointed on December 1.
On March 15, 1939, at about 3 a.m., Rudolf Beran’s cabinet started its night sitting at the Green Lounge. The Prime Minister informed the ministers in attendance of the President’s trip to Berlin, where Hácha, under pressure from Hitler, signed a document where he ”puts Bohemia and Moravia under the protection of the Third Reich…” The government closed the meeting at about 5 a.m., when German troops were already advancing on the country. On March 16, 1939, the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was officially declared.
Prime Minister Beran was replaced by General Alois Eliáš, until then Minister of Transport, who symbolized Czech patriotism to the citizens of the Protectorate.
President Hácha chose him as Prime Minister for his abilities and loyalty. Eliáš accepted the post, after a short period of hesitation, to ease consequences of the occupation.
On September 27, 1941, when a new Reichsprotektor, Reinhard Heydrich, arrived at Prague, Eliáš was arrested and was executed in 1942 for his resistance activities, the only prime minister in a Nazi-occupied country to receive such a fate. After General Eliáš had been arrested, the Gestapo devastated the Kolowrat Palace and government meetings had to be held at Strakova Academy, where the government sits to this day.
In 2010, a memorial plaque devoted to General Alois Eliáš was unveiled. Those interested may see it on the façade of the Kolowrat Palace in Valdštejnská Street.
The Pink Lounge
After the government’s move to Strakova Academy and a number of structural changes, the Ministry of Culture and Public Education, led by Emanuel Moravec, one of the best-known Czech quislings, found its residence at the Kolowrat Palace.
Emanuel Moravec used the Pink Lounge as a meeting room. The adjacent rooms served him and his officials as administrative space.
Photos © Tomáš Rasl