Prague Blog

Architecture in Prague, Art

Prague Museum of Decorative Arts – a must see spot in Prague

One of the Prague neo-renaissance jewels, Prague Museum of Decorative Arts dedicated to applied art and design is a place you should not miss when in Prague. Designed by architect Josef Schulz (who also designed Rudolfinum, a concert hall across the street from museum), it houses extensive collections of ceramics, porcelain, textile & period fashion, toys, jewelry, and more, it is a dream of every art lover. The museum has been extensively reconstructed and re-opened in November 2017.

Originally, a building dates back to 1897 inspired by similar institution in London, the South Kensington Museum (today, Victoria and Albert Museum). The Museum soon became an important cultural and educational center in the Bohemian Kingdom, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and important figures of the art/business/political life were appointed to the Museum Board  including a progressive feminist Continue reading “Prague Museum of Decorative Arts – a must see spot in Prague”

Discover Czech Republic

A Trip to Cesky Krumlov

Karel Čapek ilustration Pictures form HomeA UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ceský Krumlov is famous for its Old Town, with 300 protected medieval buildings, and its castle complex, the second largest in the Czech Republic.

Going to Cesky Krumlov is a busy one day trip or a relaxed two day trip. You can go by bus (it takes 3 hours) or by train (you need to change the train in České Budějovice) or we will arrange a car and a driver for you. Visiting Cesky Krumlov is worth a trip.

To imagine what a magic place Cesky Krumlov is, read an excerpt from a story written by one of the greatest Czech writers of the early 20th century, Karel Čapek in his Pictures from Home.

“…I do not know how many times the Vltava meanders before you get through the town – doing so as directly as possible you will cross it about five times and each time you are surprised that it is so golden-brown and in a hurry. Neither do I know how many inhabitants Krumlov has, but there are twenty-four pubs, three churches, one castle, still two large town gates and a large number of monuments; in fact the whole town is one big historic monument which reminds one of Sienna or Stirling or other famous places. Well, there are old gables, bays, dormers, arcades, arches, galleries, battlements, sgrafitto, frescoes, stairs up and down, balustrades, fountains, columns, corner stones, nooks, frame-works, maßhaus, underpasses, historic pavement, zigzagging lanes, Bethlehems, high roofs, a Gothic church, Minorites and all over the place the red roses of the Rosenbergs, everywhere you stir you can see only picturesqueness and antiquity and historical fame, while in the old suburbs there are only low houses whose roofs you can touch with your hand, geraniums in the windows and the sign over the door, here old crafts are still alive as in the fifteenth century.

Everything is dominated (and really so after the Dukes of Eggenberg) by the castle over there and particularly the tower, one of the most towery towers which I have ever seen, I would say that towers are a Czech specialty because nowhere else can you find such strange cupolas, paunchy onion-domes, poppy-head cupolas, lanterns, stuck little turrets and galleries and spires as in this country; each old Bohemian town has its own particular tower by which you can tell that this is Hradec and this is Brno and this is Budějovice and this is Český Krumlov.

As concerns the castle, it is all decorated and covered with frescos inside as well as outside but the best of all is the little Baroque theater in which the old decorations still hang; an eighteenth century Italian opera could haunt this place at this moment but it does not because it is not allowed to perform here because of safety measures. Further there is the summer-house Bellarie with such funny stairs on the facade and lots of other Baroque things; for three crowns this is enough and to spare…”

Karel Čapek – Pictures from Home

Architecture in Prague

Art Deco Arcades in Prague

Art deco arcades in Prague, modernist and cubist are interesting, vibrant, loved by locals and overlooked by tourists. Most of the arcades are close to Wenceslas Square, Vodickova and Stepanska streets.

The architecture enthusiasts should not skip at least Lucerna, Rokoko and Koruna arcades. Lucerna, once built by former Czech President Vaclav Havel’s family is admired for Arabic bazar style decoration while Rokoko arcade is a small art deco jewel. Most of the „passages“ – as locals call them, were built between the turn of 19th and 20th century and the end of the „First Republic“ (1918 – 1938). Don’t forget to visit Cafe Lucerna – yes, it would deserve  a facelift but still, you will enjoy its former glory and art deco charm, it is still there. Continue reading “Art Deco Arcades in Prague”

Art, Prague Literary Tour

A Prague lover’s reading list

These are just few books that a Prague lover may want to grab before heading to Prague or after getting back from your Prague literarary tour. We will be adding books but will be happy if you let us know of any treasures that you feel other Prague lovers should know of. Thank you! 

Franz Kafka (1883 – 1924)

It is impossible to talk about 20th century literature in Prague without mentioning Franz Kafka. For those who would like to penetrate the mysterious world of this Prague born Jewish German-language writer, their reading list should include:

  • The Metamorphosis
  • The Trial
  • The Castle
  • America

 

Only a few of Kafka’s works were published during his lifetime but the publisher, Max Brod, ignored Kafka’s wish to have the manuscripts destroyed, and published most of his works.

E.E. Kisch (1885 – 1948)

Czech writer and journalist, who wrote in German. Nicknamed the “Raging Reporter from Prague”, Kisch is considered one of the founders of the Czech investigative and reportage journalism. He wrote books about his numerous trips, such as:

  • Zaren, Popen, Bolschewiken (On the Soviet Union) (1926)
  • Paradies Amerika (On the United States) (1929)
  • Secret China (1933)

Franz Werfel (1890 – 1945)

Czech-Jewish novelist and playwright born in Prague, later moved to Vienna where he met and fell in love with Alma Mahler, widow of Gustav Mahler, the former lover of the painter Oskar Kokoschka, and the wife of the architect Walter Gropius. By the end of the nineteen-twenties, Werfel had become one of the most important and established writers in German and Austrian literature. Werfel and Alma left Austria after the German occupation in 1938 and finally settled in the United States where Werfel died in 1945. Continue reading “A Prague lover’s reading list”

Prague Cafe Slavia slider
Cafes and Restaurants in Prague

10 Prague Cafés you should not miss

There are some new cafes but also cafes that have been in Prague for ages and you shouldn’t miss them.  

Breakfast with Kafka

Kavarna Obecni dům (Municipal House Cafe)  by itself is an Art Nouveau gem, so it is worth to book a tour of the Municipal House after enjoying your breakfast. The entire building is a reminder of the good old Prague Grand Cafe atmosphere (20s and 30s of 20th century) and Belle Epoque style. It is one of the most famous Cafes in Prague, together with Cafe Slavia (opposite the National Theatre)  and Cafe Louvre (at the crossroad of Narodni trida and Spalena street). Louvre Cafe serves coffee since 1902. It was one of the favorite places of Franz Kafka and Albert Einstein during his stay in Prague. If you like cubism, the only architecture style invented in Czechoslovakia (in the beginning of 20th century), you should visit The Grand Cafe Orient at the Black Madonna House at Ovocny trh 19 and its hidden cafe on the first floor. Continue reading “10 Prague Cafés you should not miss”

Discover Czech Republic

Prague birds-eye view

 

You probably heard of the Petrin lookout tower. It reminds the Eiffel tower in Paris because the Czech tourist club members liked the Eiffel tower so much that they decided to have one – a smaller one in Prague. That was in 1891 when they returned from the World Exhibition in Paris.

The Prague tower was built just in four months, it is 63.5 meters high with 299 stairs. There is an elevator for those who may wish to skip the exercise. The Petrin lookout tower is open daily from 10am to 6 pm (November to February) and to 10pm (from April to September).

Once you will be at Petřín hill (where you can get by funicular) from Ujezd station of tram No. 22) you will be in a beautiful park, with a mirror maze. There is also a little booth with beer and famous Czech bramborak (potato and garlic pancakes). And the best, you will be able to cut through the Petřín park to the Prague Castle where you end up at the amazing view of Prague just underneath the Strahov Monastery.

Art

Vysehrad Cemetery in Prague

It may be compared to Paris cemetery Père Lachaise. The Vysehrad or Slavin cemetery in Prague where most notable figures of Czech nation are buried. Writers, actors, artists, poets and many others. Place of a magic and poetic atmosphere, just peace and art.

Vysehrad national burial ground was established in the second half of 19th century in place of an old Vysehrad cemetery dating back to 1660. It is one of the most significant Prague cemeteries. One of the notable Czech architects, Antonin Wiehl designed the neo-rennaisance arcades, which have been built according to the Italian style around the border of the cemetery. The cross vault of arcades decorated with paintings is carried by Tuscan pillars of sandstone. Walking through the Vysehrad cemetery is like walking in an open-air art gallery. Most of the tombs hold a piece of art work.

Vysehrad hill is linked to the origin of Prague when the Slavic Princess Libuse had a vision. She apparently stood on a cliff overlooking the Vltava, pointed to a hill across the river, and proclaimed: “I see a great city whose glory will touch the stars.” A castle was built at a place where a man was building the threshold (which translates práh in Czech) of a house. “And because even the great noblemen must bow low before a threshold, you shall give it the name Praha”. About two hundred years later, the city of Prague became the seat of the Premyslid dynasty. You will find statue of Princess Libuse and her husband, Prince Premysl as well as of Prince Wenceslas, later St. Wenceslas, a patron of the Czech nation who founded the first basilique (at the place of St. Vitus Cathedral) at the Prague Castle. Vysehrad is not exactly in Prague center but it should not be missed by art lovers.

 

Prague Castle

Don’t wait in queues at the Prague Castle

I am sure you have seen it or heard of long queues due to security checks at the Prague Castle. Why don’t you visit Prague Castle like a local knowing of more entrances. You still will be checked but you will not wait in queue but rather enjoy a walk through the Prague Castle courtyards, take a look inside the St. Vitus Cathedral, find out about St. Wenceslas, a patron of the Czech nation and the Czech King and Roman Emperor Charles IV. who made Prague one of the major medieval cities. You may find out why the Pope got upset with King Charles at one point (quite unexpected and surprising). And…..we will take you to a hidden café in one of the palaces at the Hradcany Square to enjoy coffee and cake or sandwich, of course like a local and for local prices.

Take me for a walk.

 

 

Art

Czech King and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV – National Gallery Exhibition

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If you are a fan of medieval history and the exceptional figure of these times, Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, you should not skip the National Gallery exhibition at the Waldstein Riding School in Prague. The exhibition presents Charles IV as a unique figure of Europe’s political and cultural history, an ambitious sovereign and visionary. Charles IV was famous for using arts and architecture to promote the imperial majesty, being one of the most generous patrons of arts in Europe. It is Charles IV to whom Prague may thank for being one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Charles IV has been known as the Father of the Homeland and many Czechs think of him as sort of icon, and idealized monarch. He was born on 14th May 1316 into a Royal family and was first named Václav, in honor of his illustrious ancestors on his mother’s side. It was only during his seven-year stay in France that he ‘picked up’ by confirmation the name of his uncle, the French King, Charles the Fair.

At the age of seven, Charles IV found himself deposited among his relatives at the French court, where he had his own private tutors. All at once, an extensive education, as well as to notable political and personal contacts were available to him. His friends included for example, the future Pope Clement VI. Last but not least, Charles brought back with him from Paris his first beloved wife, Blanche of Valois.

His all-round preparation for life continued in Luxembourg, on the family earldom, where the adolescent heir to the throne was raised by his authoritarian great uncle Baldwin of Luxembourg, Archbishop of Trier. Charles continued his studies of diplomacy and statecraft, added German language to French, Latin and Italian, as well as becoming fully conversant with courtly etiquette and knightly virtues. After many years, Charles eventually returned to Bohemia, in the autumn of 1333. Standing in for the absenting Head of State he served as Margrave of Moravia to administer the Czech Kingdom. In 1344 Charles achieved the elevation of the Prague bishopric to an Archbishopric, thus freeing the Czech State from under the Archbishop of Mainz. This was followed by his important election to the Head of the Holy Roman Empire in 1346. The Czech royal coronation took place in September 1347. Uplifting the Czech Přemyslid dynasty traditions, the monarch had commissioned the St Wenceslas Crown, which along with the scepter and orb become emblematic of the universal power of the King of Bohemia. Charles chose Prague as his capital residence, making the Czech State the main power base of the Luxembourgs. In April 1355, Charles attained his Imperial coronation in Rome, formally instating him as the secular head of Christendom. Founding of the University in Prague in 1348, was the next step by which the monarch strengthened Prague’s significance.

Today, Charles IV is regarded as a capable instigator-founder and developer, whose architectural efforts are evident in many places. Great care and considerable sums were expended by him on the construction of churches and monasteries. Charles IV died at the age of 62, on 29th November 1378. Even his lavish funeral, accompanied by impressive ceremonials, gave witness to the political power of one of Europe’s most noteworthy rulers.

The exhibition will be open until September 25, 2016 and will move then to the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nurnberg.

 

Art

Titian in Prague

Tiziano,_flora,_dettaglioPrague added another attraction for the visitors, an exhibition of Italian Renaissance painter Tiziano Vecelli (Titian, 1485-1576). The exhibition includes Tiziano’s paintings from the Prague Castle Gallery as well as his Flora from the Uffizzi Gallery in Florence.

The exhibition called Tiziano – Vanitas, the Poet of the Image and Shade of Beauty takes place in the Imperial Stable at the Prague Castle.
The exhibition also includes a number of paintings loaned from international galleries and private collections. These are primarily women’s portraits and Titian’s portraits from his later works.

The exhibition is open until March 20, 2016, everyday from 10am – 6pm.
The entrance fee is 180 CZK/6 EUR/$7
Don’t miss the unique opportunity.