Path of light • Renaissance
Renaissance came to gothic Prague relatively late. The key year was 1526, when the Bohemian lands were included within the Habsburg Empire and subsequently a tragic fire in 1541 damaged Malá Strana, the Hradčany area around the Prague Castle and even the castle itself. The burnt-out properties were bought by the aristocracy and gave way to a wide range of Renaissance palaces and other monuments. Prague unexpectedly became the center of Renaissance life in 1583, when Roman Emperor Rudolf II, King of Bohemia, Hungary, and Croatia, moved his court from Vienna to Prague. Rudolf II was not a particularly apt ruler, but he hosted many artists, scientists, alchemists, astronomers and astrologers at his court. Among them were the Italian artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo and Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, German Jan Kepler and the fraudulent English alchemist Edward Kelley. Rudolf II was also a great collector of artworks, which he imported to Prague from all over Europe, including paintings by Leonardo DaVinci, Lucas Cranach the Elder and Pieter Brueghel.
The Glassmaker Aristocrats
Dozens of glassworks were built in Bohemia during the 16th century, becoming the foundation for the later worldwide triumph of Bohemian glass. The business success of some of the kiln-masters reflected in their elevated social prestige. In 1530, Paul Schürer, originally from the Saxon side of the Ore Mountains, built his glassworks in Falknov, near Nový Bor. By 1592, his offspring were already active across Bohemia and promoted to hereditary knighthood, becoming the Schürers von Waldheim. The glassmaking dynasty of Wanders is exclusively tied to the Jizera Mountains, having their coat-of-arms since 1599.