Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Prague design tour: from art nouveau to cubism

Christmas is at our house this year! Though, I should really say our flat, or our three point five rooms. The thought of entertaining 12 people for a week at Christmas is slightly daunting, to be sure, so I’ve decided to get organized and forego my usual lackadaisical tour guide approach (here is a map marked XYZ, take the tram to the castle - X, roll down the hill and you’ll hit the Charles Bridge - Y, here’s our house - Z, see you in time for dinner!)

This time I've decided to think thematically, to try to come up with new routes around the city that bypass the end of the alphabet etched in red on all of our maps. Not that I'm throwing away the castle-roll-down-the-hill tour but I’m adding technical museums and architecture, sports centers and opera. Watch this space as new letters get added to the map each week.

The first tour (beyond the castle):

The Mucha museum
Just off one of Prague’s busiest shopping streets, the Mucha museum is a tiny space dominated by the oversize work of Alfons Mucha, the artist who founded the Art Nouveau movement (originally called Le style Mucha) in Paris in the mid 1890s. By spending even an hour here, you’ll exit the museum with a new perspective and understanding on a good slice of the design around Prague - from Czech money to many of the buildings built during a time of great construction in Prague, 1900 to 1910. I recommend watching the video while you're there.
Mucha museum website
Panská 7, Prague 1. Open daily 10:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Obecní Dům, or the Municipal House
A massive highlight of Art Nouveau architecture in Prague, the Obecní Dům is located just down the road from the Mucha museum. Completed in 1912, it was the last of the big Prague Art Nouveau projects, and Mucha had a hand in many of its murals. I recommend viewing it from both outside and in as the Obecní Dům is a beautiful example of design applied to everything from bathroom tiles to building facades.
Municipal House website
nám. Republiky 5, Prague 1. Open daily 10:00 to 6:00 p.m.

The House of the Black Madonna, the Museum of Czech Cubist Art
Built the same year the Obecní Dům was completed, in 1912, the House of the Black Madonna not only demonstrates cubist architecture (apparently an architectural style unique to the Czech Republic) but hosts art by Czech Cubists. It is part of the National Gallery in Prague system.
More information on the House of the Black Madonna
Celetná 34, Prague 1. Open daily except Mondays 10 to 6 p.m.

Grand Café Orient, at the House of the Black Madonna
Recently reopened and reconstructed to exactly match the plan of the original cafe, completed at the same time as the house, the Café is a beautiful place to take a break and have some coffee. Reviewers recommend the latte.
Celetná 34, Prague 1. Open daily 9 a.m.–10 p.m.

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1 comment:

Katka said...

This is a pic I took of Obecni dum. And another one.