Best Art Nouveau in Prague
Art Nouveau is everywhere in Prague. Walking through the city, you will spot an abundance of buildings with Art Nouveau details. The best examples are in the centre of Prague and within walking distance of each other.
Art Nouveau is a decorative style and is the French term for a form of architecture and applied art dating from the end of the nineteenth century to early twentieth century. The style is also known as Jugendstil and Secession. The characteristics of Art Nouveau-style are graceful, flowing forms and ornamentation either painted or sculpted often in the form of female figures. When you stroll through Prague, you will stumble upon Art Nouveau architecture and decorations.
Best Art Nouveau Buildings in Prague
Prague has a unique cultural heritage because most of the Art Nouveau and Baroque buildings in the city centre are still intact. The city was never bombed in the Second World War and suffered hardly any war damage. True to say, during the Communist period the buildings were neglected but, today, many of them have been carefully restored with financial help of the European Union and Unesco. Private house owners received a generous subsidy of 70% of the expenses when they renovated their property.
Best Art Nouveau in Nove Mesto
Obecni Dum (Municipal House), Topic House, Praha Building and Novak are the striking and flamboyant buildings in Art Nouveau-style. Walk through the Nove Mesto neighbourhood at leisure and discover many more.
1. Obecni Dum: the best example of Art Nouveau architecture in Prague
The Municipal House, Obecni Dum in Czech is the best example of Art Nouveau architecture in Prague. It is the ceremonial building of the Prague municipality and located at Namesti Republiky, Republic Square. Marvel at the lavish entrance. The central wrought iron gate and stained-glass canopy compliment a delightful mosaic entitled Homage to Prague.
The gilt inscription in the mosaic is taken from Hail to Prague, a poem by Svatopluk Cech written at the end of the nineteenth century. Join the guided tour and soak up the interior peppered with mosaics, filigree metalwork and many other flamboyant art nouveau details. Round off your visit in Grand Kavarna, the Municipal House café. Return one evening to listen to a concert in the Smetana Hall, home of the Prague Symphony Orchestra. Listen to a rousing performance of Smetana’s My Vlast.
Address: Republiky Square 5, Nove Mesto
2. Topic House and the Praha Building
Small oval windows spell out the word PRAHA. The mosaics inscriptions zivot, kapital, duchod, veno and pojistuje, life, capital, income, dowry and insurance, show that the building started as Insurance Company Praha. Statues of females and old men augment the art nouveau motifs.
On the right is the publishing house Topic House. Floral wreaths and garlands embellish the white wall. These moderate art nouveau details enhance the symmetry of the building and form a strong contrast to the Prague Insurance building next to it.
Address: Narodni 7 and 8, Nove Mesto
3. Novak: former department store
The building is ablaze with colours and fairy tale motifs in stucco. Metal parts, grilles and the coloured glass decorated entrance door are true eye catchers.
Address: Vodickova 30, Nove Mesto
4. Hlalol and Masarykovo nabrezi
Masarykovo embankment features several houses with beautiful Art Nouveau decorated facades. At no. 32 is the Goethe Institute, the former East German embassy. No. 26 an apartment building with owls in graceful foliage that twines around the door, from the balconies on the fifth floor, two dogs peek at the life below in the street, some birds perch high on the balcony railing. The house at no 16 is the house of the Hlalol Choir and decorated with musical motifs. Under the roof a mosaic depicting music. The motto underneath says “Let the song reach the heart; let the heart reach the fatherland.”
Adres: Nasaryko Nabrezi, de embankment between Legii Bridge and Jiraskuv Bridge
Best Art Nouveau Hotels in Nove Mesto
Staying in an art nouveau hotel is a pleasure for the eye. The Restaurants, breakfast rooms, foyers and also the staircases and lifts are a pleasure for the eye. The guest rooms are often standard rooms with hardly any period furnishing. Two striking hotels are K+K Hotel Central (do not confuse Central Hotel in Rybna street) and Hotel Evropa.
1. Hotel Central: first Art Nouveau building in Prague
The pastel coloured façade of Hotel Central is adorned with Art Nouveau sculpted elements; a bush growing around the central oriel. Inside, the stairwell, staircase and the lift are even more beautiful. In the 1920s when the cinema became popular, the hotel’s large banquet hall was transformed into a cinema and in the 1930s it became a theater and now used as breakfast room.
Address: Hybernska 10, Nove Mesto
2. Hotel Evropa: striking art nouveau facade
Grand Hotel Evropa and its slim neighbor Hotel Meran are jewels of flamboyant art nouveau style. The gold and yellow exterior is festooned with floral motifs and colourful mosaics. A gilded group of female nudes holding a crystal-shaped lanterns crowns it all. Hotel Evropa is under construction.
Address: Wenceslas Square 25, Nove Mesto
3. Hotel Pariz: Art Nouveau in all its splendour
Hotel Pariz is one of the most splendid examples of Art Nouveau style in Prague. Built in 1904, confiscated by the Communists and returned to the owner in 1991, Hotel Pariz is run by the grandson of the original proprietors. Hotel Pariz is full of Art Nouveau details sculptures that double as lamps, the mosaic in the Sarah Bernardt restaurants are a pleasure for the eye. Wooden wainscoting, brass door-handles and period furniture create a fin de siècle atmosphere.
Address: U Obecniho Domu 1, Stare Mesto
Art nouveau-style in Stare Mesto, the Old Town
The Old Town is characterized by cobbled streets and Gothic buildings, yet there are some Art Nouveau buildings.
1. Prague City Insurance Company
The façade is a mixture of New Baroque and Art Nouveau. The sculptures decorating the front are allegorical symbols of fire and water. The coat of arms shows three golden brick towers. The amount of bricks is equal to the number of districts in Prague. On the shield are three helmets, each holding a flag of the villages that make up greater Prague.
Address: Old Town Square 6, Stare Mesto
2. Villa Bilek: now a museum
Villa Bilek was the home and workplace of the Czech sculptor, architect and graphic artist Frantisek Bilek (1872-1941). The villa is now the Bilek Museum and showcases many of his sculptures and furniture reproductions based on Bilek’s original designs, as well as the original fittings of the villa. All his architectural works were ideologically-motivated, and so was his villa. Its floorplan represents a scythe used for cutting corn, the villa itself represents a corn field and the columns symbolize bundles of corn tied together after being harvested. There are no plastered walls. Bricks and stone bring the building closer to nature.
Address: Mickiewiczova 1, Hradcany
Art Nouveau away from the centre
Two train stations are in Art Nouveau-style: Praha Central Station and Vysehrad Station. The latter is in bad repair no longer used as a station because the station is built in a curve. Trains are longer these days and a curved track as a station is no longer permitted. The present owner has neglected the building and since it is a listed building Prague municipality has taken possession and plans a restoration.
1. Vystaviste: Industrial Palace
The Industrial Palace was built as a landmark of the National Jubilee Exhibition in 1881. It is a prime example of structuralist architecture, using a steel construction filled with glass instead of traditional masonry. An interesting detail is the filigree-like staircase in the dome. The domed clock tower is the most striking part of Vystaviste.
Address: Vystaviste Exhibition Grounds, Holesovice
2. Café Fantova: Pearl of Prague Central Station
Café Fantova is located under the dome of the Prague’s main station. This is the place where people bought their tickets before the new station hall was built. Embedded in the wall are the coats of arms overhead, from right to left: Berlin, Moscow, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Paris and Rome, destinations reached from Prague Central Station.
Address: Wilsenova, Vinohrady
3. Vinohrady Theater
On the roof are of the theatre two allegorical sculptures Courage with a sword in a raised hand and Truth with a mirror. These huge sculptures, eight meters high and eighteen tons in weight, are replicas that have replaced the originals since 1996 due to weathering. The balustrade of the second-floor balcony features four sculptures, allegories of opera, ballet, tragedy and comedy. The interior of the theater is as impressive as its facade. The only way to see the opulent interior is to go to a performance, mainly stage plays and only in Czech.
Address: namesti miru 6, Vinohrady
4. Villa Saloun
Villa Saloun is the former art studio of Czech sculptor Ladislav Saloun (1870-1946), a leading figure of Czech Art Nouveau symbolism who created the Jan Hus memorial in Old Town Square. His villa is an Art Nouveau gem, and although closed to the public, the façade is worth a look.
Address: Slovenska 4, Vinohrady
Alfons Mucha: Master and Art Nouveau
As an Art Nouveau lover, you can’t leave Prague without visiting the Mucha Museum. Czech painter and decorative artist, Alfons Mucha was famous for his posters advertising theater productions. His best known work advertised for the stage play Gismonda in which Sarah Bernardt played the leading role. The museum also showcases bank notes, postage stamps, emblems, jewelry and tableware. Mucha’s masterpiece, the Slav Epic, twenty larger than life canvases depicting the history of the Slav people is exhibited the castle in Moravsky Krumlov. Mucha bequeathed this painting to the city of Prague on condition that a special pavilion should be built. This has not happened yet.
Address: Panska 7, Nove Mesto