Expert recommendations and insider tips for first-time visitors and locals alike from ARTĚL’s founder, Karen Feldman, who has lived in Prague since 1994. Click on the links below for detailed reviews – from Feldman’s own unique perspective – of all the best that Prague has to offer...
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Published on March 07th, 2013 in Sights
Cubist lamppost (1911–1913), Emil Králíček
Cubist Triple House (1912–1913), Josef Chochol [photo © The Prague Vitruvius]
Cooperative Houses (1919–1921), Otakar Novotny
Czechoslovak Legion Bank (1924), Josef Gočár [Watercolor by Jaroslav Šetelík]
Czechoslovak Legion Bank - Interior
Palác Adria, (1925), Pavel Janák and Josef Zasche
Palác Adria - Interior, (1925), Pavel Janák and Josef Zasche
Veletržní palác (1928), Josef Fuchs
Batá building (1927), Luděk Kysela [Watercolor by Jaroslav Šetelík]]
Bull Staircase (1929–1931), Josip Plečnik
Müller Villa (1930), Adolf Loos
Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord (1932), Josip Plečnik
Architecture buffs who visit Prague will be pleased to note that Frank Gehry’s Tančící dům (Dancing Building) isn’t the only modern marvel in town. Do not overlook these lesser-known gems which speak to Prague’s rich architectural tradition, represented by its numerous building styles including rare Cubist buildings.
Králíček’s Cubist lamppost, a funky concrete column hidden in a shady corner of Jungmannova náměstí, is said to be the only one of it’s kind in the world. Though a bit worse for the wear these days, it still merits a visit.
Its prominent Cubist facade, deeply recessed windows, pronounced ledge, and vivid coloring make this captivating series of Cubist villas beneath Vyšehrad a must-see—while you are in the area I suggest a stroll along the embankment for its terrific view of Prague.
Built during the "second wave" of Cubism, after World War I, the Cooperative Houses—once a Teacher’s Union, now an upscale residential block in Prague’s tony Jewish quarter—have a playfully colorful façade, atypical of the monochromatic Czech Cubist style.
Gočár’s Rondocubist building (Rondocubism utilized rounder forms) may not be as well known as his celebrated House at the Black Madonna on Celetná, but no less worth a look in my opinion. Wander inside during the bank’s opening hours and peek at the fantastic Art Deco interior.
Clearly the most ambitious of the Rondocubist buildings in Prague, this faux Venetian palace integrates sculpture to photo-worthy effect. The building’s terrace café overlooks Prague’s bustling “golden cross” intersection.
If you’re shopping in Prague take a moment to appreciate the sleek functionalist lines of the seven-story Batá flagship at the bottom of Wenceslas Square. Perhaps best viewed by night, it’s an unassuming architectural gem and Prague’s largest shoe store to boot.
The National Gallery’s bewilderingly large collection of contemporary art is housed in a Functionalist palace originally designed for trade fairs. Once you’ve properly appreciated the splendid exterior, head to the second floor to see the Social Realism section, my favorite.
Ancient Prague Castle is the last place one might seek out modern design, but Slovenian architect Plečnik’s Bull Staircase—ornamented with tiny bronze bulls—was part of President Masaryk’s 20th-century initiative to renovate the grounds. Located in the third courtyard, it leads to the south gardens.
Along with Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, and Mies van der Rohe, Adolf Loos was one of the fathers of Classical Modern architecture. The Müller Villa, his masterpiece, should not be missed. Loos not only oversaw the design of the building, but also the entire interior which is surprisingly luxurious given the architect’s famous essay on “Ornament and Crime.”
Many Czechs consider this modernist church, designed by the same architect responsible for the modernization of Prague Castle, a complete eyesore. On the contrary, I think it’s a national treasure. The interior is every bit as unique as the exterior, so be sure to visit both.