The Picture Gallery of Prague Castle
The Picture Gallery is situated on the ground floor of the northern wing of the Second Courtyard. The rooms housing the gallery underwent gradual restoration and alteration from 1922 to 1964. The Picture Gallery contains the remainder of the once extensive collections of Emperor Rudolf II, which were held at the Castle in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Unfortunately, many of the best items were sold off by his successors or carried off by invading Swedes or Saxons. Perhaps the most famous is the portrait of Rudolf made up entirely of fruit and painted by Giuseppe Arcimboldo.
Several of the remaining works are of exceptional importance and include paintings by Tintoretto, Titian, Veronese, Rubens, Fetti and other famous artists. The galley has been open to the public since 1965. Examples of Czech Baroque art include paintings by Jan Kupecký and sculptures by Matthias Bernhard Braun.
In 1950, during archaeological research carried out at the Picture Gallery site, remains of the oldest church at Prague Castle, dating from the end of the 9th century, were found. When work was being carried out to adapt the rooms for gallery use, the excavated parts were left so that they could be viewed by visitors. The preserved sections are most likely to be the northern section of the nave, with the apse and altar. The upper parts of the masonry date from the 10th century; beneath them is the masonry of an older structure dating from the latter half of the 9th century. It is very likely that the building was the Church of Our Lady, which the founder of Prague Castle, Prince Bořivoj, had built.