For 68 years Emperor Franz Josef ruled over the Czech Republic. His reign shaped Prague enormously. Both architecturally and culturally, the traces of his reign in Prague can still be discovered today. However, he never received the Bohemian crown – despite several attempts.
Born in Vienna in 1830, since his earliest childhood Franz Josef had been educated to take over the throne. The high expectations of him did not make him doubt, but only spurred his ambition. At the age of 18, he took over the leadership of the Empire after the abdication of his uncle and took extremely harsh measures against the revolution in 1848. His conservative ideas were also directed against the Czech aspirations to establish a constitution. Nonetheless, Prague was right at the top of the list on his first trip outside Austria.
In the footsteps of the Emperor in Prague
The honeymoon of the newlywed imperial couple Franz Josef I and Elisabeth of Bavaria, Sisi for short, took them to Prague. There they were in the center of attention. It should remain the most popular visit of the emperor in Prague.
Today, his traces can be found in the Lapidarium of the National Museum. There is a bronze statue of Franz Josef I, which was originally at the main station. Also on display in the lapidary are the portrait busts of the imperial couple created by the artist Antonin Pavel Wagner.
Furthermore, the emperor visited the industrial palace at the exhibition center in 1891, in which the industrial exhibition celebrated its anniversary. He also took over the patronage over the exhibition. Finally, a mooring at the Kaiserwiese in Prague was named after Franz Josef and even personally visited by him in 1907. Also named after him were for some time the main railway station (1871-1919) and Náměstí Republiky, which was from 1916-1919 the Franz Josef I. – Square.
Today’s Legion Bridge was named the chain bridge of Emperor Franz Josef I. until 1898. However, it was replaced in 1901 by the Legion Bridge and so today there is no evidence of his rule at this point anymore. However, many of the places that still exist in the city today are, by some means, associated with Emperor Franz Josef I, but either replaced or renamed. But with a little research, you will quickly find connections.