NEWS: 30 05 2023
Head to the newly renovated Zdík Palace on Friday to celebrate the Night of Churches! From 18:00 to 21:00 we will have FREE admission!
The Episcopal Palace is among the most important residential buildings from the High Romanesque period in Europe. It has often been referred to as the Premysl Palace, in the mistaken belief that it was once home to the Olomouc dynasty of that name. We now know, however, that it was in fact the residence of the Bishop of Olomouc Jindrich Zdík, one of the outstanding figures of 12th Czech history.
Jindrich Zdik is thought to have been the son the chronicler Cosmas. With his excellent education and regular contact with influential circles throughout Europe, he gained a broad knowledge of intellectual, political and ecclesiastical life, enabling him to carry out many ambitious projects such as introducing the Premonstratensian Order to the Czech lands. He also attempted to reform the Moravian church. Bishop Zdik was more than just a politician and reformer: he was also a great lover of the arts. On his travels around the continent he invited the best sculptors, stonemasons and illuminators to work for him in Olomouc, where they created many magnificent works.
As we have seen, it was built soon after the Church of St. Wenceslas, which was founded at the beginning of the 12th by Svatopluk, Duke of Olomouc, and completed by Bishop Zdik. Next to the church the bishop then built himself a magnificent residence, attached to which was a small rectangular cloistered courtyard and a chapter-house intended mainly for social receptions. In 1141 Zdik moved into his new quarters, along with twelve of his canons. Architecturally, the residence was unique in 12th C Bohemia and Moravia. The palace was oblong in shape and had two storeys. The ground floor housed administrative offices, while the clerics’ private apartments were all on the first floor.
The ornate palace windows are clear evidence of both the sophistication of Romanesque art and the refinement of Bishop Zdik’s taste. These two-light or gemel windows are made of a soft limestone known as spongilite well suited to intricate ornamental carving. The style of the superb lace-like tracery suggests that specialist stonemasons were employed for this work, most likely from the Rhineland and southern France. The windows were originally fitted with shutters.
Yet neither this extraordinary Romanesque building complex, nor the communal ecclesiastical life within its walls, survived long after the death of Bishop Zdik in 1150. After a series of fires the buildings were demolished and replaced with the cloisters you see now.