The Prague Gate, Mělník, Czech Republic

prazska brana melnik hlavni foto

Address:
Pražská brána, ulice 5. května, Vodárenská, 276 01, 276 01 Mělník
Description of work:         Renovation of the outer casing of the tower
Restoration of architectural stone elements
Discovery of the medieval staircase
Contractor: GEMA ART GROUP a.s.
Investor:
The Town of Mělník
Implementation:
07 -10/2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 PHOTOGALLERY:
The Prague Gate - before renovation of the outer casing of tower The gate The Prague Gate - after renovation of the outer casing of tower Tower clock - after restoration Stone elements of the exterior - before restoration The interior of the Prague Gate - after restoration

  • History
  • Restoration work
  • More information

The Prague Gate most probably dates back to the end of the 13th century, when the early medieval fort was replaced by a new system of fortifications. The town walls originally had two gates: the preserved Prague Gate and the Labe (Elbe) Gate, which no longer exists. The first preserved written mention of the Mělník fortifications from the 2nd half of the 14th century refers to this Labe Gate.
During its lifetime the Prague Gate underwent several building alterations. The most significant of these was the Renaissance modification from 1536 when one and a half storeys were added on the top. Further reconstructions occurred in 1652 and 1799, when the building caught fire and had to be partially rebuilt.
The fortification system gradually fell into disuse during the 19th century and the same fate could have befallen the Prague Gate, which was sold off in 1836 and subsequently used as a water reservoir. The last significant alterations were carried out between 1916 and 1920 according to plans by the architect Kamil Hilbert. At present the building is used as a gallery and tearoom.

Sources:
DRAGOUN, Zdeněk a kol. Románské domy v Praze. Praha-Litomyšl:Paseka, 2002. 365s.
VLK, Miloslav. Domy v Husově ulici. České muzeum výtvarných umění[online]. Vystaveno 2007[cit. 2011-05-16]. Dostupné z: < http://www.cmvu.cz/cz193m-/domy-v-husove-ulici/ >.
GASK O NÁS[online]. Vystaveno 2010[cit.2011-05-16]. Dostupné z: < http://www.gask.cz/o-nas >.

Work carried out under the management of the company GEMA ART GROUP a. s. involved renovation of the outer casing of the Prague Gate, renovation of selected stone parts in the interior, installation of new historically appropriate wrought iron grilles and repairs to the roof frame, which was damaged by rot.
During the restoration and building work several new stone elements were discovered, which broadened the scope of knowledge regarding the history of the building. For this reason new historical and architectural research was carried out as a follow up to the previous survey of Mělník's town fortifications, which took place in 1980. The most important new discovery was the medieval staircase at the northern side of the tower, which was made newly accessible. The experts also inserted probes into the masonry at the forth level of the tower and located a stone niche and a hollow space. It was originally anticipated that this might have been the site of another staircase now hidden in the strong walls but the probes disproved this presumption.
GEMA ART GROUP a. s. was also responsible for rewiring the building, and the installation of new heating radiators and dehumidifiers.

Restoration of the stone elements of the exterior:
The restoration work comprised of renovation of the stone escutcheons of the windows and the tower clock face, the raking geison ledge, two of the keyhole loopholes and the reinforced quoin. Some stone elements were found to be in a state of advanced degradation. Worst damaged were the ledges on the north and west side of the Prague Gate, which had deteriorated to such a degree that it was decided to carry out partial replacement by copies made of Hořice sandstone. All stone parts were covered by layers of dirt and growths of mosses and lichens. The dirt was removed using a steam jet, and the vegetative matter by application of biocides. Subsequently the stone was treated with an organo-siliceous consolidant. More extensive fissures were sealed with a special solution. Unsuitable pointing was replaced by high quality breathable lime mortar.
Special attention was paid to the original Late Gothic window in the south wall of the gate. To facilitate the restoration, the considerably damaged Gothic tracery was professionally taken apart and the fragmented parts re-joined together using polyester binder.

Tower clock - detail of destruction Detail of the destruction The Prague gate - stone elements before restoration Detail of the stone elements - before restoration Reconstruction work in progress Detail stone element - chiseled of the dating - year 1536 Jamb of window - work in progress Jamb of window - work in progress Jamb of window - work in progress Jamb of window - work in progress Jamb of window - work in progress - puttying Jamb of window - after reconstruction
Partial building renovation in the interior:
Restoration of the interior of the Prague Gate was included in the renovation remit given to the GEMA ART GROUP a. s. This included repairs to the argillite masonry on the forth level and to plastering on all floors. The interior plastering was relatively recent and as such in reasonably good shape.
Plasterboard wall cladding on the forth and fifth level of the gate was dismantled. After its removal small amount of loose masonry and minor cracks became apparent and were immediately professionally dealt with.
Rough argillite masonry was rid of dirt and non-original additions. The cracks were in-filled using lime mortar with added ferrous pigments.
The niche located on the forth level was found to have loose stone work. The experts first removed the individual blocks, cleaned them and then reset them using hydraulic lime mortar.

Stone wall - before reconstruction View of the interior - before restoration Interior - befor reconstruction Interior - after reconstruction Interior - after reconstruction The soil
Discovery of the medieval staircase:
Test probes have established the existence of a medieval staircase between the first and second floor on the north side of the Prague Gate. Consequently the later building additions and rubble were removed and stonemasons carried out repairs to some of the individual steps to ensure safe access for staircase users.