Beer isn’t the only thing Prague has going for it. Tangled in between cobbled streets and hidden courtyards, you’ll discover some of the most unusual architecture on the continent. Nicknamed the ‘City of a Hundred Spires’, the capital of the Czech Republic is boiling over with examples of baroque, gothic, Renaissance and Art Nouveau around every corner. Famous for its medieval Old Town Square lined with colourful buildings, the city on the Vltava River is the gift that keeps giving for architect and design lovers alike. Here’s a list of five of the best buildings Prague has to offer.
Built between 1985 and 1992, the soaring Communist style transmitter tower is the tallest architectural landmark in Prague. Sitting at 216 metres high, the TV and radio tower is also used as a meteorological observatory and tourist attraction. Standing on a hill in Mahler Gardens in the central Zizkov district, the tower is a short walk from Jiriho z Podebrad Square and offers some of the best panoramic views over the city. On a clear day you can see Central Bohemia, almost 100 kilometres into the distance. The futuristic structure is famous nowadays for the iconic bronze sculptures of crawling babies scattered either side, built by Czech artist David Cerny. Despite once being voted the ugliest building in the city, the bizarre tower is most definitely one to add to the list of what to see in Prague.
Located in the Old Town Square, the palace is part of the National Gallery which manages the largest collection of art in the Czech Republic. Formerly owned by the Kinsky noble family from where it got its name, the impressive building is an example of the Rococo style and is a sight for sore eyes with its pink and white façade topped off by a bright burnt orange roof. Famous for the colours and detail of its exterior, the palace was built between 1755 and 1765 on the site of three buildings with medieval foundations that can still be seen in the cellars. Just as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside, Kinsky Palace is home to the breath-taking permanent exhibition of the Art of Asia and the medieval Mediterranean. If you’re an art fan then this has to be your next port of call.
Inspired by the famous inter-war dancing couple Fred Astar and Ginger Rogers, the building overlooking the river is one of the most talked about in the country. Plastered across Instagram, the Nationale – Nederlanden building on the Rasinovo nabrezi is a symbol of the post-revolution era and one of Prague’s most recognised landmarks. Adding a subtle romantic touch to the whole riverbank, the Dancing House is an example of deconstructivist architectural style and is made from reinforced concrete. The ‘Fred’ tower is topped with a stainless-steel mesh dome and the entire building consist of nine floors with asymmetrical rooms. Inside you’ll find some offices, an art gallery, hotel, restaurant, bar and a terrace offering spellbinding views of Prague Castle. As one of the most valuable post-modernist buildings in Prague, you absolutely can’t miss the chance to dance with Fred and Ginger.
Designed by the esteemed Adolf Loos in 1930, Villa Muller is Prague’s answer to architectural avant-garde. Built as a residence for engineer Frantisek Muller, the house is a mixture of functionalistic and classic British architecture. Now open to the public as a National Cultural Monument, the house with inconsistent ceiling heights, is one of the most significant examples of the architect’s ‘Raumplan’ concept whereby the internal layout is more important than the outside. Restored between 1997 and 2000, the white, cubic villa is an interesting visit that is well worth fitting in to your itinerary.
The largest church in the country, the Roman Catholic metropolitan cathedral is one of the most spectacular examples of gothic architecture left in the city. Sitting in the grounds of Prague Castle, the church was originally built in 1344 during which time it was the tallest building in Prague. Consisting of a main hall with a triple-naved room with adjacent chapels, the church is extremely significant to the religious and cultural life of Czech Republic. Expect to see a 14th century mosaic of the Last Judgement, the baroque silver tomb of St. John of Nepomuck, the ornate Chapel of St. Wenceslas and a collection of art nouveau stained glass – to name a few of the treasures inside. A truly spellbinding sight, see the church lit up at night and take in the beauty of one of the coolest buildings in Prague.
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Flights to Prague
- Lucy Norris