From its Gothic cathedrals and Baroque churches to its Baroque palaces and Renaissance houses from an architectural point of view Prague is in a league of its own. We have compiled a list of the Czech capital's 12 most stunning buildings to give you but a small taste of what this incredible city has to offer in terms of stunning architecture and breathtaking design.
Charles's Bridge (or Karluv most), which crosses the Vltava River, is Prague's oldest bridge. It was built in the 14th century during the reign of King Charles IV, and was the most important connection between Prague Castle and the city's Old Town. There is a tower standing on each end of the bridge, which can be climbed for an impressive view of Prague. Baroque statues are places along the bridge, including that of St. John of Nepomuk, a Czech martyr who was executed during the reign of Wenceslas IV. Touching the statue is supposed to bring good luck and ensure your return to Prague.
The Dancing House was built in 1996 by architects Vlado Miluni? and Frank Gehry. The curved lines of the narrow-waisted glass tower clutched against its more upright and formal partner led to it being christened the 'Fred & Ginger' building, after legendary dancing duo Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The building houses offices, a ground-floor gallery, a rooftop restaurant and, since 2016, a luxury hotel. The very non-traditional design was controversial at the time because the house stands out among the Baroque, Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings for which Prague is famous, and in the opinion of some it does not accord well with these architectural styles.
Designed by the Czech architect Josef Zítek in a neo-Renaissance style, Prague's national theatre opened its doors to the public in 1881. However, just over a month after its opening a devastating fire destroyed the theatre's auditorium, stage and magnificent copper dome. With the help of public funds the National Theatre was reconstructed and reopened in 1883. The incredible interior and exterior decorations we can see to this day were all inspired by Slavonic mythology and Romanesque landscapes.
The Powder Tower, or Powder Gate, is one of Prague's thirteen original city gates. Built in a gothic style, it was a coronation gift to king Vladislav II in 1475. Originally known as the New Tower, its name was changed to the Powder Tower in the 18th Century as a nod to the fact that from around 1715 it was used to store gunpowder. Today, the Powder Tower houses an exhibition entitled "Prague Towers" and photos by Ladislav Sitensky, although the main attraction is the view from the top. Visitors can climb the 186 steps inside the tower to reach the viewing platform 44m above the ground and marvel at the views over the Old Town.
The main building of the National Museum is the largest and oldest museum in the Czech Republic. It was built in the 19th century in Neo-Renaissance style by architect Joseph Schultz as a symbol of the Czech National Revival. Its magnificent interior is a shrine to the cultural, intellectual and scientific history of the Czech Republic. The main building of the museum is closed until 2018, however its annex, the National Museum New Building is open and hosts temporary exhibition. This New Building is an imposing structure, built in the 1930's, which used to be the home of Radio Free Europe, before becoming a museum.
The gorgeous Jubilee Synagogue, which was opened in 1906, was designed by the architect Wilhelm Stiassny and named in honor of the silver jubilee of Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria-Hungary. The synagogue brings together Moorish revival design and Art Nouveau decor to produce one of Prague's most colorful buildings.
The stunning Kinsky Palace, with its delicately elegant pink and white, stands in Prague's world famous Old Town Square. The neo Rococo palace was completed in 1765 and became the residence of Jan Arnost Goltz, whose family owned the building until 1945. To say that the palace has had a rich history would be a grand understatement. It was the birthplace of Baroness Bertha von Suttner, who would go on to become the first Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 1905. It also housed a German language school which counted amongst its pupils Franz Kafka. In 1948 Klement Gottwald proclaimed the beginning of communism from the palace's balcony and less than 50 years later Vaclav Havel announced its fall from the same balcony!
St. Vitus Cathedral
Located at the heart of Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral is a prime example of the gothic architecture that has become so synonymous with the Czech Capital. Construction of the cathedral was commissioned by Charles IV in 1344. The building's original architect was Matthias of Arras who drew inspiration from the grand cathedrals of his native France. However, in 1356 Matthias died and the construction of St. Vitus was passed on to Peter Parler. Unlike Matthias, Parler did not want to base his design on existing cathedrals, but rather wanted to create something completely unique. Due to a multitude of delays construction of the cathedral was only completed in the 20th century!
The House at the Minute
The beautifully quaint House at the Minute was constructed sometime in the early 15th century in late Gothic style. Its ornate Sgraffito decorations, which depict scenes from Greek mythology as well as Renaissance legends, were added in two phases in the early 17th century. The building derives its name from 'minutious' meaning very small, as the house was once home to a tobacconist's shop which sold minced tobacco. The House at the Minute was also the childhood home of Franz Kafka, who lived here with his family between 1889 and 1896.
St. George's Basilica
St George's Basilica is the oldest surviving church building within Prague Castle, and the best preserved Romanesque church in Prague. The basilica was founded by Vratislaus I of Bohemia in 920. It is the resting place of several Czech historical figures, including the remains of the murdered princess Ludmila, the first female Czech martyr. The building now houses the 19th century Bohemian Art Collection of the National Gallery in Prague, and also serves as a concert hall. Entrance to St. George's Basilica is included as part of the admission ticket to the Prague Castle complex.
St. Nicholas Church
The Church of Saint Nicholas is a Baroque church in the Lesser Town (Malá Strana) of Prague. It was built in the 18th century on the site of a 13th century gothic church, also dedicated to Saint Nicholas. The Baroque church was actually inspired by the Invalides chapel in Paris. However, the Church of Saint Nicholas in the Lesser Town should not be confused with the Church of Saint Nicholas in the Old Town Square, which is home of Europe's largest fresco, Johann Kracker's Apotheosis of St Nicholas. You can climb the church's bell tower via a separate entrance on the corner of Malostranské nám?stí and Mostecká.
Completed in 1911 the Municipal House is Prague's best known, and arguably most loved, example of Art Nouveau architecture. The building, which was built on the site of the Royal Court Palace, was designed by Antonin Balsanek and Osvald Polivka. Today the building hosts a grand concert hall, a cafe, the Francouzska Restaurant, as well as exhibition halls, conference rooms and even a basement bar!