When it comes to art in Prague, many of the coolest galleries are located away from the big museums. The city’s most creative art hubs are changing the face of the industry with intriguing collections ranging from the works of emerging Czech artists at Hunt Kastner Artworks to provocative pieces at Futura Gallery and cutting-edge photography at Leica Gallery Prague. Next time you visit, add a few of these trendy spaces to your itinerary.
When in the Czech Republic, discover the best emerging talents from across the country at Hunt Kastner Artworks. The gallery in the trendy Žižkov neighborhood is the best place to go to immerse yourself in the local art scene, with exhibitions focusing on young and progressive artists such as Tomáš Vanêk and Michaela Thelenová. Curators constantly work with collectors to offer visitors a rich and varied collection of contemporary Czech art, so there’s always something new to uncover.
Leica Gallery Prague is more than an exhibition space, it’s a gallery, a bookstore, a café, and an art school all rolled into one. Located in Prague’s New Town, the institution is dedicated to photography. Art lovers can visit the gallery to discover local and international talents in thought-provoking exhibitions, browse the bookstore and purchase photographic works or specialty books, or simply take a break in the café and gaze at further works on its pop-up exhibition walls. Aspiring photographers can also take part in workshops to hone their skills and get hands on experience with the guidance of a local expert.
Speaking of cathedrals, St. Nicholas Cathedral is among the most famous Baroque structures in the city. Situated on Malá Strana and visible from the Charles Bridge (the iconic green Baroque dome makes it easy to spot), make sure to venture inside the cathedral to see the beautiful frescoes on the ceiling by Viennese artist Jan Lukas Kracker – as well as the organ, which Mozart himself played in the 18th century.
All the rage in the 19th century, Historicism was a concept liberally applied to architecture in Prague. Channeling the architectural styles of bygone eras, the National Theatre building and the National Museum are quintessential examples of this period in building, both being highly decorated, grand Neo-Renaissance structures designed to evoke the Italianate designs of the Renaissance. Similarly, the State Opera building is another homage to history, but this time of the beautiful Neo-Classical persuasion – don’t miss the mythological figures in the triangular frieze on the outside of the building.
For a touch of ornamental Art Nouveau on your architecture tour of Prague – and to take us swinging into the 20th century – make sure to stop off at the Municipal House to take in its colourful, opulent façade. And, for something a bit different, check out the concrete Cubist Lamp Post (think: Picasso made 3D), just around the corner from Wenceslas Square – the only such structure in existence.
The Villa Müller, a house designed by Adolf Loos in the late 1920s, best typifies Functionalist architecture in Prague – the design of function and utility, not fancy – with its clean lines and bold, “modern” aesthetic. And, for a dose of Communist Prague, few buildings exemplify this era quite so vividly as the solid, unsentimental Former Parliament Building at the top of Wenceslas Square, which is now home to a wing of the National Museum.
To conclude our tour of architecture in Prague, we move into the 1980s and ‘90s. Built in the “high-tech” architectural style, the TV Tower is now one of Prague’s “thousand towers”, albeit it is a strikingly modern, metallic one – perhaps best known for its sinister crawling babies.
Also well worth a look is the award-winning mid-90s Dancing House, designed by Vlado Milunič and architect-extraordinaire Frank Gehry. This dynamic building is so named for its curved shape and sense of movement. Book a table at restaurant Ginger & Fred (get it?) for fine French fare and views over the Vltava River.