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© 1993-2011 Frank Derville
I would like to let you see my 7
favorite Art Nouveau
buildings in Prague. If you are interested to carry on such a visit,
you should know that there is much more to see. The Art
Nouveau/Jugendstil period (1898-1914) has seen tremendous builders.
Some whole areas of the town were designed in the Art
Nouveau/Jugendstil style. Once you are out of the inner center of the
town, you will see that the general state of the buildings is painful.
The broken window panes, the tumbledown plaster, the Art Nouveau door
handles replaced by standard ones... are certainly due to the communist
inheritance. On the other hand there haven't been
destruction/reconstruction programs as in western Europe so nearly all
the original Art Nouveau buildings are up.
Art Nouveau apart, you should also have a romantic walk across the Vlata on Charles' bridge, see the great astronomical clock (which is unique in Europe apart the one in Strasbourg in France), the rectangle stone towers, part of the ancient city wall, with their typical steep slated roof and their 4 peaks in the angles. On the other hand, if you enjoy Classical Music, you will soon be charmed by Prague. There is a concert in every church every day.
Till 1918, Prague was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire
and nowdays it is the head city of the Czech
republic, but from the second half of the XIXth century, a
lot of independence movements have risen. These voices claimed not only
a political autonomy but also a cultural one.
Geographically, Prague was not as large of today, a lot of AN buildings that are today in Prague were in fact in other little independent towns like Smichov. The Prague of today was created in 1922. As nearly all large towns of that time in Europe, Prague grew at high speed. The period is contemporary to fast rural depopulation combined with start of industry. All the city walls were razed during the second half of the century.
main architects are Ohmann (1858-1927), Bendelmeyer (1872-1932)
and Kotera (1871-1923). The fate of Mucha (1860-1939), alike Czech, is
his meeting with Sarah Bernhard in
Paris at the turn of the century, but after some time
in the United States, he went back to Prague in 1913 and then he
participated to the
decoration of several buildings. He was an active proponent of a Czech
way for modern art.
If some of the Prague AN artists came from Vienna or have learned in Vienna schools of architecture (and especially Otto Wagner's), Czech artists have developed their proper way into Art Nouveau If you wander a little around AN buildings in Prague, you will notice that Prague AN artists had their favorite decorative pattern: it is a set of tree branches with flat and overlapping leaves. (See on the left the picture of a grave in the Slavin)
Hybernska ulice, 10
Ohmann (1899-1902), with Bedrich Bendelmayer, Alois Dryak
|"Hotel Central" is one of the first AN building in Prague. It is traditionally built with plastered bricks and stuccos. Its milky mint color is largely used in Prague. The stucco pattern is inspired by tree leaves. The lamps, the font used for the hotel name, every detail have been designed by the architect as a total work of Art. Today, the hotel is closed, the ground floor is devastated, the brick is bear and giant placards have been put over the windows. But the rest of the building will let you imagine some of the splendors of Prague in 1900.|
Vaclavske namesti, 25
Bendelmayer and Dryak, 1903-06
|"Hotel Europa" gathers today two hotels. Hotels were a type of building that used very often the Art Nouveau style. The attention that AN architects paid to every detail is used efficiently for a luxury and comfort purpose. These hotels had all the modern conveniences of that time. It was a way to gain an international shining, and to show the state of the Art in Prague. The architects designed all the parts of the building and let some of the best craftsmen realise them, one craftman for each different material.|
Vodickova ulice, 30
Oskar Polivka (1901-04)
|This building was originally built in 1878 adopting a classical revival style and then it was turn into Art Nouveau by Polivka to meet public taste. The metal work of the balconies, the door with stain glasses, the wall covering mosaic (by Jan Preisler) have been greatly restored.|
Hrad, III nadvori
|St Vitus cathedral
was built in gothic revival style and finished in 1912. Two AN features
are visible on the right side of the neve: a stain glass by Mucha and a
wooden Christ on the cross by Bilek. More information about Bilek in
the description of Bilek's house.
Don't forget to see the Nepomucen's chapel and its baroque grave. |
Mucha is certainly the most well known Czech AN artist in the world. His stain glass, designed in 1931, keep still some very good AN features although the AN period was over. The stain glass represents "St Cyrillus and Method legend".
namesti Republiky, 5
Arch: Antonin BALSANEK, Osvald POLIVKA, 1903-1905
Mosaic: Karel Spillar
Sculptor: Franta Uprka, Josef Maratka
Inside: CHOCHOL, Balsanek, Saloun, Preisler, Alphons MUCHA, POLIVKA,..
outside is built in a baroque revival style with modern
technics including a large fresco on the front, a copper and glass
dome, a large marquee overtopped by cariatide lights (photo
§5). The inside was designed by the most well
known AN artists. The rooms, named after Czech heroes, have a
decoration inspired by nationalism (example : ceramic fresco in the
underground restaurant on photo §3). You will admire the
Jugendstil hanging lights (example on photo §1). It hosts also
in the building: French Restaurant, Mozart Restaurant and
Café Nouveau (photo §3) and a large concert hall.
Except for the restaurants, it is not possible to visit the building
except for some guided tour, which are not regularly nor often
The communal houses, people houses or even national houses are typical buildings from the AN era. It is part of a will to make the Arts available for all the inhabitants of the town and be a show room of national technical and artistic skills. In Prague, it takes a particular taste regarding the will of independence of the czech against austrian. The independance arrived in 1918 at the end of World War 1 (the declaration of independance was made in the building).
The building was restored to its original beauty during the years 1996-97.
8/300, Wilsanova trida
Josef FANTA, architect
Stanislas SUCHARDA, sculptor
main station of Prague is built over drive through
plateforms. It has a symetrical shape and at its center a large and
high semi circular hall with two towers (photo §3). Two office
buildings mark the way outs of the railways. The original floor of the
building is below the street level as a highway was constructed in 1970
together with a reconstruction of the central part and the construction
of an underground hall. You can appreciate this in photo §2
with the old and new iron fences at two different levels (the original
ones with floral patterns as a balcony which is now littls below street
level and the new ones on the pavement to avoid people from falling to
the ancient ground level, more geometrical but still with an Art
Nouveau taste, but dating from 1970). |
Don't miss inside these superbs ceramics frescos (photo §4) in the northen wing in room that is used now as a storage but was a restaurant. Don't miss either the door of the northern office building with sculpures and stain glasses (photo §5).
The building is today in a really bad state (photo §1) and its wonderful Art Nouveau features are not yet restored.
9/1010 and 7/1011, Narodni Trida
Osvald POLIVKA 1906 and 1901
|Topic is influanced by baroco and german
jugendstil. Look at the irisated ceramics displaying "Topic" (Photo
|Praha Assurance building inspired by austrian secession. The bas reliefs of the first floor designed by Saloun are wonderful. The name PRAHA is written under the corniche amidst frescos and small oval windows.|
Mickiewiczova ulice, 1
|Nowdays, it is a museum about Bilek's sculpture work. The whole building has been designed by Bilek from the furniture to the door handles. It is one of the most surprising building in Prague with its semi carved stones and bricks. The plan is very original and functional associating a duplex house part and a one storey workshop/exhibition part. Bilek sculptures are very mysterious and often show some pain. Though he was not part of any movement, his work is close to symbolism.||(88K)|
ulice Na Vaclavce, 30
Alois Korda, 1903
angle tower and floral sgraffito, this villa gathers AN and traditional
features. Although it is the best example of Jugendstil villa near
Prague, it is today very tumbledown.
A sgraffito is a kind of drawing that is made in the wall cement while it is not yet dry.
|15 promenades dans Prague/ Ed Casterman, Belgium||French||This is a guide about architecture in Prague with maps, a thematic identification, black and white drawings every 2 page, an artist index... It is "The" guide||190FF|
|Jugendstil in Prague||Available in English, French and German||This book written by Czech authors is full of addresses of AN buildings. The lack of historical information and general information about AN for a specialized book is very missing. No map. No index. Not very convenient for a visit. It is available in every bookshop in Prague||About 400 Kc|
|The Art-Nouveau-round-the-world server is dedicated to promote a better knowledge of the Art Nouveau period (1890-1914)|