Today our class met in Wenceslas Square for an architecture tour. I figured we would start at the Square and venture out to far distances in Prague. Yet, I didn’t realize how much interesting architecture and history we could cover in a small area. The tour mainly consisted of comparing different buildings’ architectural styles, with Art Nouveau being the most prominent style we looked at. The tour guide started with an explanation of how Art Nouveau buildings were being constructed at the same time as neoclassical buildings. The two architectural styles were almost in a competition of which one was the best. At the time, many people wanted to see something new and fresh in the city and they were tired of neoclassical architecture. However, when the elaborate Art Nouveau style was introduced in Prague, there was a lot of opposition to the style because it was so different. We looked at many Art Nouveau buildings, but my favorite had to be the well known Café Imperial. The Café Imperial was filled with ceramic tiles and mosaics of the most intricate detail.
The other Art Nouveau building that stood out to me was the Lucerna Palace. It had a oriental style and was filled with impressive marble. Photographed above is a sculpture placed in the Lucerna Palace. The Upside-Down Horse sculpture, by the infamous Czeck artist David Cerny, is comically placed in this building. It’s hard not to miss the sculpture when it sharply contrasts with the architecture around it.
Another style that I thought was really interesting was the Cubism architecture. Cubism architecture is an unique architecture style that branched off from Cubism art work (for example, Picasso). As told on the tour, Cubism architecture is only found in Prague. A famous example of Cubist architecture would be the House of the Black Madonna. The building looks much more modern compared to those around it due to it’s geometrical shapes within the structure. Even though today was scorching hot, I was happy that we got to go on this tour because we learned so much in a short amount of time. Now I want to go back and visit many of the architectural sites and possibly get a coffee to drink in the view.
Yesterday we traveled outside of Prague to go to a small town named Kutná Hora. I knew we were going to see the “Bone Church”, yet I had no idea what else the day had in store. I was immediately in awe with the beauty of the city and all the greenery that surrounded it. Just by looking around, one could tell how much wealth the city once had. The rich city got its fortunes from silver mining and coin making. At the end of the trip we actually got to go deep underground to see where the silver miners used to work.
For our first stop, we visited the Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady at Sedlec, which was made up of a very simple Baroque Gothic architecture when compared to the other churches we visited. It was interesting to find the two styles of architecture together, yet they were put together flawlessly in this cathedral. The next church we visited was the “Bone Church” or the Ossuary at Sedlec. The church comprised of thousands of actual human bones and it was an amazing site to see! The bones were connected together in very creative masterpieces used to decorate the church. It was interesting to find that the inside architecture was overwhelmed by bones. I did not want to stop looking at it all, yet we had so much more in the town to see. Next, we went to the massive and astounding Church of St. Barbara. I could not get over the size of the church. It was not hard to miss the huge flying buttresses on the exterior of the church. The Gothic architectural style had so many intricate details that I also did not want to leave the area because there was so much to loot at. We even decided to have lunch at a place with a perfect view of the Church of St. Barbara so we could keep staring at the wonderful site. Kutná Hora appeared to be a fairy tale city made up of the most astounding architecture and I want to come back to see even more.
The Church of St. Barbara
Out of the many wonderful things about Prague, one of the most amazing characteristics about the city is it’s architecture. Since I have walked around the city for a week now, I have noticed that Prague houses a multitude of architectural styles. From the modern Dancing House building to the gothic churches, you can find such a range in style. I love looking around at the city’s architecture because it reflects Prague’s past and present. The city’s history shines through in its architecture and every piece of architecture has it’s own story. So far, my favorite style of architecture is Art Nouveau, which has characteristics of blending in with natural and organic surroundings. Art Nouveau has stood out to me from the first few days of being in the city. I first noticed the style within our visit to the Olšany Cemetery whenever I noticed gravestones carved out like trees. Next, we learned about Alfons Mucha, a famous artist during the Art Nouveau movement. His art pieces included natural elements like vines and flowers intertwined with beautiful women. Another style of architecture that stood out to me is the Gothic architecture. The Charles Bridge and the Prague Castle first comes to my mind when I think about this style. Also, Gothic architecture often seems to show up whenever I look up at massive churches with ribbed vaulting and pointed arches. Another odd, but interesting style of architecture I have noticed was during the Communist era. If you look at the skyline of Prague, you can see a tall modern needle-like building in the distance. It contrasts so sharply with all the ancient architecture around the city. Even though some styles may seem out of place, Prague’s various architectural styles make the city what it is today.