The Ball Game Hall (Míčovna) is a terrific sight. Set in the Royal Garden, it’s a huge hall, long and narrow, once used for ball games and a riding school. It gives a real sense of a 16th century nobleman’s world where the Royal Courtiers played the forerunners of tennis with leather balls and shuttlecock with feather balls. The Hall was built in 1569 and was only used as a games hall for a few decades before it was turned into stables, and then a military store. It is an example of Renaissance garden architecture, built by the architect and stonemason Bonifác Wohlmut, who was also responsible for the Royal Summer Palace.
It is worth noting the sgraffito decoration, a fanciful feature of this period, made by scraping off a layer of plaster in intricate patterns, a darker layer being underneath. The figures are allegorical. They represent the four elements – wind, fire, earth and water; six virtues – justice, valour, prudence, temperance, continence and faith; and eight sciences – divinity, music, astronomy, geometry, mathematics, oratory, dialectic and grammar.
The building was set on fire in 1945 by the Nazis and reconstructed in the 1952 but it was closed to the public until 1989. It’s used currently for exhibitions and concerts.