When first you come upon this, rising serenely in all its ornate loveliness out of the roar and rattle of the traffic, the sight of it catches your breath. King Vladislav II caused it to be erected one of the gates of the old city. An unhappy King this latter, I should say; at least his lot was cast in unhappy times.
But the good work that Vladislav the King had started on Mount Zion of Strahov was not allowed to perish; the monastery re-arose from its ashes after each visitation, with renewed strength, arose to look out over Prague from its terraced height.
I cannot imagine that the aspect of the Mala Strana which Vladislav got while proceeding to his coronation was very different from that of to-day. The Bridge Street on the left bank was possibly narrower and ill-paved, but I am certain that the general aspect of arcaded houses was much the same as it is to-day.
It must have been a-building when the enemies of Vladislav attacked the city, it was destroyed when the Hussite wars broke out over Bohemia, and it suffered at the hands of the Swedes during the War of Thirty Years.
One of the first of these was Vladislav himself; weary of war and worn out by internal dissensions, he abdicated and retired to Strahov to end his days.
You may recognize it some way off by a number of heavily mullioned windows in contrast to the very plain setting of the endless rows of other windows all along the front of the castle buildings. This palatial part of the castle it is that nearest to the cathedral was begun by Vladislav as soon as he had settled down to his kingship, and was finished in 1502.
Of the buildings and other matters of interest which date from the tenth and eleventh centuries and are to be seen in Prague. Of the bridge built by Judith, Queen of Vladislav II, in 1167. Of some churches in Prague and the round chapels. Of Vratislav, first King of Bohemia, and his fights for the Empire.
Both these were crowned by Sava, and Vladislav married the daughter of Tsar John Asen II, under whom Bulgaria was then at the height of her power. Sava journeyed to Palestine, and on his return paid a visit to the Bulgarian court at Tirnovo, where he died in 1236.
Of the end of the Jagoilla dynasty on the throne of Bohemia when Vladislav's son Louis was drowned after the battle of Moháč. Of how Ferdinand of Austria married Anna, daughter of Vladislav, and became King of Bohemia. Of great doings in the Hall built by Vladislav on the Hradšany. Of the beautiful Belvedere which Ferdinand caused to be built for Anna, his Queen.
I have often wondered how and where people crossed the Vltava previous to 1167 when Judith, Queen of Vladislav II, built a bridge very near the site of the present Charles Bridge.