- By Kevin
- On Dec 19, 2017
- Travel Tips
You'll find exquisite examples from the history of European architecture in Prague -- from Romanesque to Renaissance, from baroque to Art Nouveau to cubist -- crammed side-by-side on twisting narrow streets. To enjoy the historic buildings & monuments in Prague with us in this paper. Seen from Charles Bridge, this jumble of architecture thrusts from the hills and hugs the riverbanks, with little of the 20th century's own excesses obscuring the grandeur of the past millennium.
The excellent examples of whimsical Art Nouveau architecture are the Hotel Evropa, on Václavské námestí, and the main train station, Hlavní nádrazí, on Wilsonova trída, both in Prague 1.
Prague's finest cubist design, the House at the Black Mother of God (Dum U Cerné Matky bozí), at Celetná and Ovocný trh in Old Town, is worth a look. The building is named for the statuette of the Virgin Mary on its well-restored exterior. It now houses a Museum of Cubism and modern art gallery. You'll also find a full cubist neighborhood of buildings directly under Vysehrad Park near the right bank (Old Town side) of the Vltava.
The city's most unappealing structures are the socialist and Brutalist designs built from the mid-1960s until the end of Communism. Examples are the entrance and departure halls of Hlavní nádrazí, Wilsonova trída, Prague 1; the Máj department store (now a Tesco), Národní trída 26, Prague 1; and the Kotva department store, námestí Republiky.
However, the absolute worst are the prefabricated apartment buildings (paneláky) reached by taking metro line C to Chodov or Háje. Built in the 1970s, when buildings grew really huge and dense, each is eight or more stories tall. Today, half of Prague's residents live in paneláky, which rim the city.
One postrevolution development -- the Rasín Embankment Building, Rasínovo nábrezí at Resslova -- continues to fuel the debate about blending traditional architecture with progressive design. Known as the Dancing Building, it opened in 1996.
Codesigned by Canadian-born Frank Gehry, who planned Paris's controversial American Center and the Guggenheim Bilbao, the building's method of twisting concrete and steel together had never before been tried in Europe or elsewhere. An abstract Fred Astaire, dusting off his white tie and tails, embraces an eight-story ball-gowned Ginger Rogers for a twirl above the Vltava. The staggered design of the windows gives the structure motion when seen from afar. The only way to get the full effect is from across the river. The kicker is that the building is made out of prefabricated concrete, proving that the Communist panelák apartment houses could have been made more imaginatively. Ex-president Havel used to live next door in a modest apartment in the neoclassical building built and owned by his family.