Since 1947, Sternberg Palace has been home to masterpieces of National Gallery Prague whose predecessor, the Picture Gallery of the Society of Patriotic Friends of the Arts, had been located there in the 19th century.
The palace was commissioned by the imperial count Wenzel Adalbert of Sternberg (1643–1708), a descendant of one of the oldest aristocratic families and as such, one of the most powerful Bohemian magnates. In 1690 he purchased the estate adjoining Prague’s Archbishops’ Palace. The topographically complicated site, steeply sloping down to the Stag Moat, featured an earlier house of medieval origin. The new owner immediately started planning a large residence. Built between 1699 and 1708, the palace is attributed to Giovanni Battista Alliprandi. Upon Sternberg’s death in 1708, the palace was only partly completed.
Until 1811, the palace was held by the family trust, with the Society of Patriotic Friends of the Arts housed there. The Society sold the building in 1871. For several years, the palace was used as a psychiatric hospital and from World War I it served the army. After World War II it became the seat of the newly constituted National Gallery.
Even though only fragments of the original decoration have remained, Sternberg Palace is a first-rate jewel of High Baroque architecture in Prague. Both the building and its furnishings combine diverse art forms, creating the perfect space for artworks of miscellaneous styles and times.