This exuberant building, built in 1765 from Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer's design, is considered one of Prague's finest rococo, late-baroque structures. With its exaggerated pink overlay and numerous statues, it looks extravagant when contrasted with the marginally more somber baroque elements of other nearby buildings. (The interior, alas, was "modernized" under communism.) The palace once contained a German school—where Franz Kafka studied for nine misery-laden years—and
now holds the National Gallery's permanent exhibition "Art in the Old World," which displays art and artifacts of ancient cultures of Asia, Europe and North America. Communist leader Klement Gottwald, flanked by comrade Vladimír Clementis, first addressed the crowds from this building after seizing power in February 1948—an event recounted in the first chapter of Milan Kundera's novel The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.