Prague of the 16th century had become the centre of Europe again. Rudolph II, a Habsburg who had no political ambitions or abilities, but had a great passion for art, history, occultism and alchemy, decided to make it the head of the Habsburg state. Just like Charles IV gave the capital its most notable buildings, Rudolph granted it an unforgettable air of mystery and created the famous Rudolfinian Prague. He was interested in Kabala and his understanding of Jewish culture led to further assimilation. During his reign, the Jewish part of Prague, Žižkov was built.
Rudolph’s close ties with foreign scientists and painters gave him a mysterious image in the eyes of ordinary people. In fact, he was mentally ill and had syphilis. He detached himself from the outer world and turned the Prague Castle into his own private kingdom with exotic animals, laboratories and libraries full of mystical writings. Although a devout Catholic like many Habsburgs, he gave a secret nod to the Protestants. Unfortunately, he abandoned his duties as a ruler and was overthrown by his brother, Mathias, who moved the Habsburg court from Prague back to Vienna.