The Hotel

As with all Hradcany houses, there are many gaps in the recorded history of the house at number 178. One reason is that the Hradcany contract ledger and other town records have not survived intact, not least because they were badly damaged in the Prague Old Town Hall of 1945. One of the most valuable of these documents was manuscript number 72, which was directly referenced to the third Hradcany contract ledger, which was detailed in Tomek’s Chronicle of the Prague.

The first mention of the house at plot number 178 is an entry in Tomek’s Chronicle in 1372. The house was owned by a Mr. Jindrich (Domus Henrici) who was registered as the owner until 1381. By 1388 the widow Katerina Jindrichova was the owner of the house, until she sold it in 1390 to Vaclav for 300 (recorded as ‘fifteen times three-score’) groschen.

There then follows a gap in the recorded history of the building because the second Hradcany contract ledger was not preserved.

In about 1481 the property was divided into two separate houses, ‘a’ and ‘b’. The exact date of the division is not clear. The eastern part of the house was purchased in 1498 by Mr. Jindrich of Kolovrat, the most senior judge in the Czech kingdom, whom Tomek lists as the owner until 1511.

The second half of the house, known as “ad alucem lunam” (sic – it probably should be “ad claudam lunnum” – “at the everchanging moon”) also changed hands often until 1503. In that year, the house on the street leading to the Pohorelec Gate was sold to the same Mr. Jindrich of Kolowrat and Krakowec for 3600 groschen (‘sixty times three-score’).

Since it seems that this Jindrich had owned the eastern part of the house since 1498, the two parts of the house were re-united under one owner.

This is the second instance of the name Jindrich playing a significant role in the history of this house.

Another interesting event in the history of the house took place in 1602 when his Excellency Emperor Rudolf II bought the house for slightly over a quarter of a million groschen (‘4170 times three-score’).

From that date the house was joined with the adjacent property at lot 179, known as ‘The Old Renthauz’ for a lengthy period. The combined property served as the “Head office of the Imperial Court”, which had previously been based in a part of The Old Renthauz. It was administered directly by the Czech Chamber and the Court Construction Office (as the senior executive body for construction matters). The Office carried out a series of minor alterations and maintained the building in good condition.

The building of the office of the Imperial Court was involved in events of a wider-ranging nature in 1806. The Governor’s Councillor Prokop Flatzer was ordered by the highest burgrave to the office of the Imperial Court to remove the sign “Private Office of the Holy Roman Emperor and His Royal Majesty,” which he gave to his superiors for future use. This occurred following the abdication of Frantisek I as Holy Roman Emperor in 1806.

At this point, the building of the office of the Imperial Court had lost its raison d’etre and a new role had to be found for it.

At the end of 1807 the Governor’s Councillor and Beroun Regional Mayor Prokop Platzer requested that the former Imperial office be converted into a private institute for the blind. The Imperial Decree of 22nd December 1807 and the official comments of the Czech governor of 3rd January 1808, signed by Earl Wallis, contain no objections to this conversion.

The house at plot number 178 was registered as owned by the institute for the blind in 1814. The house is described as a one-storey building in good structural condition.

The institute for the blind ended its occupation of the building in 1838, when Jan Rád Alexander became the new owner of the building.

A series of major and minor structural alterations was made to the building between that year and the beginning of the First World War.

After the First World War, construction work continued at the former office of the Imperial Court.

The Karlasova family owned the building since the death of T.G. Masaryk (the first President of Czechoslovakia), and their descendants still own the building.

In 1925 the then owner submitted a plan to adapt the building for use as a hotel. The project, prepared by architect Jindrich Pollert, was approved. The upward extension of the building was completed in 1926.

This is the third time that Jindrich had a significant influence on the building. The building of the top-floor rooms marks the beginning of hoteliery in this building.

The Hotel Milan opened for business, run by the Karlasova family for almost 30 years (including during the Second World War) until 1953, when they were forced out of Prague by the Communist regime and the hotel was nationalized.

After the Velvet Revolution in November 1989 the house was returned to its previous owners. However the building was in poor condition and required wide-ranging reconstruction. The reconstruction began on 4th September 1995. On 30th June 1996 the tradition of hoteliery could continue, with the opening of the Residence Domus Henrici.

The current building has lost many of its original architectural features, but plans dating back to the second quarter of the 18th Century show that the Imperial Office was one of the most beautiful renaissance buildings in Hradcany.