The Prague Loreto is an artistic and historical monument, as well as a Baroque pilgrimage site the renown of which in the city can perhaps be compared only with that of the wonder-working statue of the Infant of Prague. Construction of the Prague Loreto Santa Casa (illus. 9) began on 3 June 1626, at the instigation of Baroness Benigna Katharina von Lobkowitz. The Loreto arose gradually over the course of the 17th and 18th centuries; the interiors were partly renovated in the 19th century; and in the 1950s and 1960s, a new treasury was built, accessible to the public.
The pilgrimage site is conceived as a self-contained complex of buildings around a central Santa Casa, with an oblong, two-storey arcade courtyard (unlike the Italian Loreto, where the Casa is inside the pilgrimage church). The present-day Church of the Nativity of Our Lord (on the longitudinal axis - no. 8) and two of the chapels (in the middle of the northern and southern wings - nos 4, 10) were only shallow alcoves with altars in the original design from the 1660s. As the renown of the Loreto grew, the number of visitors increased and it was necessary to enlarge the liturgical spaces of the pilgrimage site. Thus, gradually (by the end of the 17th century) the larger oblong chapels were built in the corners of the courtyard (nos 3, 5, 9, 11); subsequently, both chapels on the transversal axis were enlarged and the Chapel of the Nativity of Our Lord reconstructed in several phases into a more spacious church.
The town of Hradcany was estabilished thanks to the proxinity of the royal seat. It was founded during the reign of John of Luxembourg sometime after 1320 as a town, which was under the office the Prague Castle burgrave.
At the beginning it is covered approximateey half its present area, to its full size it was expanded during the served as a town market place. Paradoxically the proximity of the Castle prevented the natural development of this town. Noblemen and St Vitus canons started to build their palaces and houses around the square.
Since the fire of 1541 reached here as well, only the parish church of St Benedict, now altered in the Renaissance style, was preserved here from the Gothic period. Today together with the adjacent Renaissance building, it serves to Carmelite nuns.
In this area, there are only sporadic monuments from the Gothic period, for example parts of the Gothic fortificatons walls, preserved in Kepler Street. They date back to the times of this town extension under King Charles IV rule. Other buildings of this town are mostly of Renaisance and Baroque style.
Hradcany Town Hall
The building of Hradcany Town Hall (Loretanská 1/173) from the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century can be pointed out as an example of Renaissance burges architecture. The originally tributary town of Hradcany was promoted to a royal town as late as during the reign of Emperor Rudolph II and the hall was built in the same period.
The sgraffito decoration includes the sign of the town as well as the imperial spradeagle. There is another object of interest - it is the preserved all of Hradcany (on the right side of the door), which was used as a unit of measurement in the Hradcany market place. Here all customers could make sure that they had not been deceived by sellers.
The construction of the new main entrance to the Prague Castle stimulated other building activities on Hradcanske
Square. In the close neighbourhood of the royal seat the Archbishop`s Palace
(Hradčanské náměstí 16) is situated. The original building from the 16th century was reconstructed later on.
The architect Jean Baptiste Mathey redesigned the building in the Early Baroque style in the end of the 17th century. A later alteration in the style of the High Baroque responded to the changed situation of the Prague Entrance and estabilished a respectable opposite to the secular power.