Sunday, January 30, 2011

Architectural landmark

Architectural landmark, originally uploaded by Silanov.

Municipal House (Obecní dům), Náměstí Republiky, Prague (Czech Republic)

Some background information:

Obecní dům is not only a major civic landmark and concert hall, but also an architecturally and politically very important building.

Around 1900 the building was commissioned by the city on an odd-shaped lot. Two architectural competitions were arranged but unfortunately both were unsuccessful. Thereafter the job was simply given to architects Osvald Polívka and Antonín Balšánek. Construction started in 1905 and Obecní dům opened its doors in 1912.

The Art Nouveau structure is an artifact of the Czech nationalism of that time and carries a wealth of ornaments by some of the leading Czech artists of their day. The main facade features a large ceramic half-dome mosaic above the entry. It’s called "Homage to Prague" and was created by Karel Špillar.

On either side this mosaic are allegorical sculpture groups representing "The Degradation of the People" and "The Resurrection of the People" by Ladislav Šaloun, while the remainder of the rich decoration was made by Josef Mařatka, František Úprka and others, with light stands designed by Karel Novák. The interior of the building includes murals by famous Czech Art Nouveau artists like Alfons Mucha and Max Švabinský.

The concert hall inside the Municipal House is named Smetana Hall in honour of the famous Czech composer Bedřich Smetana. On 28th October 1918 the independent state of Czechoslovakia was proclaimed in Smetana Hall. Nowadays Obecní dům also includes a very beautiful Art Nouveau café and a restaurant just as beautiful. But be mindful of the high prices before you decide on having a lunch, dinner or just a cup of coffee there. ;-)

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