The Haunted Mansion Prague

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Praha, Namesty Republiky 001 by sebd_ch.

A symbol of the modern city, since 1912 the Municipal House in Prague is the key stage of the twentieth century Czech history. The traveler stops at a few meters from the entrance to the old city of Prague, against Namesty Republiky square in the republic. On one side, the Gothic Powder Tower. The other, the Municipal House in Czech, (Obecni Dum), a work of outdoor art that was built between 1905 and 1912. Since then, this building witnessed the turbulent Czech history. It housed the first seat of local government, but also was and is the concert hall of the philharmonic orchestra, a cultural center with exhibition hall, restaurants, and coffees.

This is the place frequented by writers Franz Kafka and Rainer Maria Rilke, politicians too Tomas Masaryk and Edvard Benes. All this feeds the legend of the Prague Municipal House, a work of “total art” full of details from ceramics and mosaics that decorate the walls to the design of Art Nouveau lamps, stained glass windows and panels, the fusion of themes of folklore of Bohemia and Moravia with the styles of art in Europe in those years.

Art for all

All the elite of architects, decorators, painters and craftsmen Czechs early twentieth century worked in this building, including the painter and designer Alfons Mucha, held in Paris by Sarah Bernhardt. Many decorated the large circular room that is above the main entrance, the Hall of the Administration of Prague, with allegorical murals and stained glass Slavic history. Two great architects, Osvald Polivka and Antonin Balsanek designed the building with the most advanced technology of the time, including electric lifts.

The other rooms of the house were decorated by the painters Jan Preisler, Karel Spillar, Josef Wenig, Mikolas Ales, Frantisek Zenisek and Max Svabinsky. The sculptures are the work of Saloun Ladislav Josef Maratka, Karel Novak, Bohumil Kafka and Josef Myslbek. They are all big names of Czech art: the Municipal House would be the testimony of the cultural rebirth of a country that, in the early twentieth century, should fight for its identity between the various nationalities of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Now restored to its original splendor between 1993 and 1997, a visit to the Municipal House confirms that only here you can see the typical Art Nouveau in Prague with Czech variant of Cubism and Art Deco architecture in addition to references imagery of different and varied rooms that refer to Greece and Egypt.

If this house talk, could tell you that in October 1918 on the ruins of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of the First World War, was officially proclaimed here the birth of the Czechoslovak Republic. In November 1989, was the scene of the “velvet revolution” that ended the communist era. In those days of 1989, future president Vaclav Havel of the country met here with Prime Minister, Ladislav Adamec, to resolve the political crisis.

From outside, the traveler sees a two-story building with a monumental facade decorated with allegorical sculptures, full of decorative details in metal, glass, ceramics, wood, stone and stucco. On the ground floor, facing each other, are the Francouzska Restaurace, a French restaurant with the most luxurious interior and coffee Prague Kavarna Obecni Dum, both in Art Nouveau style, with geometric glass chandeliers František Križík, Thonet furniture and a fountain with marble from Carrara.

In the basement of the building, the inspiration came from Chicago to make the American Bar and then from Munich to the Pilsen Restaurant. Of course, the star is on the first floor, is the Smetana Hall, dedicated to classical music and equipped with a 4736 pipe organ. Acted in this room, among other musicians, Igor Stravinsky, Bruno Walter, Arthur Rubinstein and Bela Bartok.

Walking the Smetana Hall is like taking a quick course in art: the work of wood sculpture of Jan Navratil, Josef Kalvoda boxes adorn the main, two statues of Ladislav Saloun – “Vysehrad” and “Slavonic Dances” – adorn the ends of setting. The ceiling, decorated with glass panels and allegorical paintings, is one of the masterpieces of Karel Spillar.

Good Travel!

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