Don’t be confused by the name of the Prague Castle Riding Hall and don’t look for horses there. True, there might be some horsepower under the car bonnets in the presidential garages, but the equestrian entertainment for aristocracy, which was the purpose of the premises in the 18th century, has been replaced by art exhibitions in the reconstructed building.
If you are want to see a top exhibition, you cannot choose wrong from the programme of the Prague Castle Riding Hall. In the past, it held an exhibition of Cartier jewellery, the first exhibition of the complete work by Zdeněk Burian, and a retrospective exhibition of one of the most precious Czech artists, Josef Čapek.
The transformation of the Riding Hall into an exhibition hall
The vast baroque Riding Hall with a courtyard farm and stables date back to the end of the 17th century. Upon the initiative of Leopold I, it replaced a smaller construction built in 1572 to provide sufficient facilities for equestrian training and aristocratic entertainment. To remind the original purpose of the Riding Hall, there are two extant sculptures of leaping horses in the facade.
The residence with the ground plan of 92 to 40 metres was designed by the Prague architect Jan Baptista Mathey. Inside, you can see the original ceiling from 1760. The Riding Hall got it after a fire when it was reconstructed for the first time. At that time, two new parts of the compound – the summer and winter riding halls – were built.
The compound was used for horses and horse riding only for a relatively short period of time, 103 years. Then, it served as a storehouse for 150 years. In 1948-1949, the Riding Hall was transformed into a prestigious exhibition area as we know it now (designed by the architect Pavel Janák).
Elevated terrace with a view of the Prague Castle
When the Riding Hall was transformed into a gallery in the first half of the 20th century, the summer riding hall was rebuilt into garages and a car repair shop serving the Office of the President of the Republic (1950-1956).
After the open compound was roofed, a large garden terrace with gravel pavements was created. Today, we can admire the scenery of St. Vitus Cathedral and the northern part of the Prague Castle fortification there. Important open-air events and concerts take place at the area of 0.03 ha, as well.
How to get there
The Riding Hall is situated in the complex of the Prague Castle in U Prašného mostu Street. You can get there by tram 22. If you get off at the Prague Castle stop and go towards the north gate of the Castle, you will find the Riding Hall on the right side, opposite the entrance to the Royal Garden above the Stag Moat (Jelení příkop). It is open only when there is an exhibition, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The admission fee depends on the exhibition.