Building History

Previous Structures on the Site

The first known structure on the site of what is now CERGE-EI was a pharmacist’s home during the time of Charles IV (1346–1378). The street was then known as “Angel Street,” and the pharmacist was especially known for his kindness to the sick. To this day, all Czech pharmacies bear the symbol of an angel.

Later, the pharmacist’s home was demolished and a palace was constructed on the site by Kristof of Wallenstein. The palace was destroyed by fire in 1757, and the remains were purchased by the Merciful Brethren. It then became the site of a convent-hospital operated by the Brethren. Eventually Austrian Empress Maria Theresa bought the property and converted it into a facility to accommodate some of the many children orphaned by the famine and plague of 1771.

The Current Building

The present building was commissioned in 1871 by a well-known entrepreneur and railroad builder Jan Schebek. The three storied building was designed by the architect Ignác Ullman and inspired by Italian palaces (above all the Palazzo di Venezia in Rome). Its most striking features include a marble staircase and ceilings painted by Viktor Barvitius.

In 1890, Schebek’s son sold the palace to the Austro-Hungarian Bank, and thus began the long association of the building with economic activities. In 1918, after the founding of the First Republic (independent Czechoslovakia), the building became the headquarters of the State Bank of Czechoslovakia.

During World War II and the Nazi Occupation, the Gestapo used a building on the same street as its headquarters. In memory of the victims the street nowadays bears the name “Street of Political Prisoners” (Politických vězňů).

In 1963, ownership of the building was transferred by the National Bank to the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, which made it the seat of its Economics Institute. Since 1991, Schebek Palace has been the residence of CERGE-EI, a joing workplace of Charles University and Czech Academy of Sciences.