- Aqualand Moravia
- Pasohlávky 110 E, 691 22 Pasohlávky
- Czech Republic
- GPS: 48°54'9.936"N, 16°34'28.524"E
- [email protected]
Mozart and Prague
Mozart was much more appreciated in Prague than in Vienna and his home town of Salzburg, and he visited Prague many times. On his first visit in January 1787, he was the guest of Count Thun and stayed at his palace in Malá Strana, at Thunovská 14, Prague 1, today the British Embassy. A rumor tells about a meeting between Mozart and Casanova in the Bretfeld Palace at Nerudova 33, Prague 1, during the same month. On his first visit, Mozart also stayed at the House at the Golden Angel at Celetná 29 in the Old Town.
Mozart spent most of his second stay in Prague from September to November 1787 in the Villa Bertramka, which at that time was out in the countryside and now is part of the Smíchov district and is located at Mozartova 2 in Prague 5. Unfortunately, the original villa was destroyed in a fire but the house now serves as a museum dedicated to Mozart where you can see some of his original notes and the piano he played while in Prague. Concerts are held in the garden in the summer. For convenience, Mozart stayed at the House at the Three Golden Lions near the Theatre of the Estates at Uhelný trh 1 during the premiere of Don Giovanni on October 29th, 1787.
During his trips to Prague Mozart played the organs in the Saint Nicholas Church in Malá Strana and the Monastery of Strahov. After his death, a special mass was held in the Saint Nicholas Church in Malá Strana.
If you are interested in the styles of the late 1800s and early 1900s (Art Nouveau, Neo-Gothic, Neo-Baroque, Neo-Renaissance), this district is worth a visit. During the reign of Charles IV, this hill, as many others in Prague, was covered with vineyards. The name still preserves this old aspect of the area. During the 17th century many botanical gardens rose in this area; they were closed in the 19th century to free the space for the newly born community of Vinohrady founded in 1879. The town planning was started at the beginning of the 20th century and in 1922 this area became part of Prague.
Take the metro - Green Line (A) - and get off at Jiřího z Poděbrad where we start our walk. If you want to take an extra trip, get off at Želivského (second stop from here). Right outside the metro station you will see the New Jewish Cemetery where Kafka and Max Brod rest in peace face to face. To find their graves, walk in, turn right and continue along the wall until you reach the second gate.
Jiřího z Poděbrad Square (Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad) - This square takes its name from George of Poděbrady, the Bohemian king elected by the Hussites in 1458. In this square, we can see the Church of the Sacred Heart by J. Plečnik, the architect who restored the Castle during the First Republic. The church dates back to 1928-1932 and it is a résumé of the ancient styles, for example the clock that represents the rose window of a gothic cathedral or the base inspired by ancient temples. From here we walk to the telecommunications tower.
The tower was built in the 1980s and at that time it was very criticized for spoiling the landscape of the city. Thus it was nicknamed "The Rocket of Vinohrady" or, with more irony, "Husák's finger" (Husák being the last communist president). The tower is 216 m high and it's possible to go up for a nice view. Entrance fees: adults 120 Kč; children 60 Kč. At the height of 65 m, there is a restaurant and a cafeteria and at 93 m, there is an overlook with a nice view of the region on clear days. I suggest going there in the morning to have a good light above the city center.
From the tower, which is located in Ondříčkova Street, we go up to Slavíkova and turn to Mánesova. This is a nice street with wonderful facades. We walk down and then turn to Anny Letenské crossing Vinohradská. We walk along Šubertova to get to Náměstí Míru (Peace Square). Náměstí Míru is one of the main squares of Vinohrady. In the middle of this square, there is the Church of Saint Ludmila, Neo-Gothic from 1888-1893 by J. Mocker. There is also the Vinohrady Theater, a very nice example of Art Nouveau from 1905-1909. From here we take Jugoslávská to get to the I. P. Pavlova metro station - Red Line (C). If you still have time, walk around the streets to the left of Jugoslávská. They are really worth a visit.
The New Town
The New Town is not as new as it might seem nowadays since it was founded by Charles IV in 1348. The purpose was to increase the population and to find a new area for the workshops out of the Old Town. The idea was very advanced for that time and the plan included three large squares for the city markets that would be connected by a long street to ease the commerce. The three large squares were the Horse Market, now Wenceslas Square, the Cattle Market, now Charles Square (Karlovo náměstí), and the Hay Market that kept the same name, Senovážné Náměstí. The long street is now composed of Vodičkova and Jindřišská.
Not very much has been preserved of the gothic period since this district of Prague has evolved more than the others over time and now is mostly composed of architecture from the end of the 1800s to the contemporary style. Wenceslas Square has witnessed all the events of modern history of this country from the Red Army liberation in 1945 through the Prague Spring of 1968 to the Velvet Revolution of 1989.
We will start our walk from the top of Wenceslas Square, metro C, stop Muzeum. The square is 700m long and 60m wide so you can use it to count distances on the map. At the top you can see the National Museum; together with the National Theatre they were built at the end of the 1800s during the Czech Renaissance. During the Prague Spring the museum was shot at because the soldiers thought it was the Parliament. You can see traces of the restoration mostly on the columns. The exposition includes history and natural sciences.
Going down the square, we can see the Monument of Wenceslas placed here at the end of the 1800s. It had become the symbol of the nation; in fact just in front of it Jan Palach burned himself to death on January 16,1969 to protest against the invasion of the tanks from the Communist Block that had occurred one year earlier. Today the Wenceslas statue is the most common meeting place for locals. They meet "under the tail" or "at the horse". A few steps down we encounter the memorial to the victims of communism with the pictures of Palach, Zajíc and Masaryk.
Let's continue down the square until we reach the Hotel Europa, a nice example of Prague Art Nouveau. Art Nouveau took the name "Secese" here since it was the secession style from the official and academic style of the Habsburg Empire. In front of the hotel, there is the publishing house Melantrich. Havel and Dubček had one of their biggest speeches in front of a crowd of 1,000,000 people during the Velvet Revolution of 1989 from the balcony on the second floor.
We go to Štěpánská Street and turn right into the Lucerna Passageway. Passageways are typical in Prague, both in the Old Town and in the New Town. This one is very famous because it was built by Václav Havel's grandfather. It's a huge complex of buildings that includes a theatre and a disco underground and a movie theatre on the first floor. Entering the passageway you can see the old elevator that never stops. You must jump in and out at the right time. A little further you can see a statue with a horse upside-down. It makes fun of the statue of Wenceslas on the top of the square and represents the horse tired of the weight of the knight.
Let's step out of the passage and turn left on Vodičkova Street. Don't forget to look at the house U Nováků, another nice example of Art Nouveau. We walk along the street to the end and reach the Charles Square; this is the biggest square in Prague and once was called the Cattle Market. You can see the New Town Hall with its tower from 1400. The first Prague defenestration occurred here in 1419.
Looks like defenestrations are a habit in this country since this first one was followed by the second and most important in 1618 from the windows of the Prague Castle that was the starting point of the Thirty Years War. The most recent occurred in 1948 in the Černín Palace in Hradčany. The victim was the son of T. G. Masaryk, the first president of the Czechoslovakian Republic. His name was Jan Masaryk and he was the only non-communist member of the government after the coup d'état in 1948.
There is also a baroque Church of Saint Ignacio of Loyola - it was part of a huge Jesuit convent, now a hospital. We take Resslova Street and walk down to the river where we can see the Dancing House built in 1996 by F.O. Gehry, the American architect who also built the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. The people of Prague love their city and this modern office building shocked them for its position right on the bank of the river, so close to buildings from the 19th century. From here we turn right onto the bank of the river. While looking at the nice facades of the buildings, we reach the National Theatre, another great monument of the Czech Renaissance of the late 1800s. A few days after the great opening the theatre burned down and the Czech composer Smetana managed to collect money in three months and it was built again in two years rejoining all the main artists of the period.
Would you like to take a break now? Well, we are at the right place! In front of the theatre, on Národní Třída, there is the Café Slavia with a nice view of the most common Prague panorama: the Castle and Charles Bridge. After your long meditation we start again along this street keeping to the right side, not to miss the two nice Art Nouveau facades on the opposite side. Near the theatre there is a modern building that was supposed to temporarily replace the old theatre during reconstruction but then (sigh!) it stayed. It is the Laterna Magika, a special show created for the Bruxelles Expo of 1958 and still playing. It is a mix of cinema and theatre.
In the passage of the building no. 18 there is a memorial of the beginning of the Velvet Revolution on Nov. 17, 1989. At the end of the street we arrive at Jungmann Square where we can see a unique building. It's the Palace Adria built in Rondo-Cubist style. Like the one on the opposite side of the street, it belonged to the Italian insurance company Reale Adriatica di Sigurtà. In front of the Bata Building, in the same square, you can see a Cubist street lamp. Following the 28. rijna Street, we get to the bottom of Wenceslas Square. This area is called Můstek, which means "Little Bridge". There was a moat dividing the Old and New Town in the past. We take the Na Příkopě, which means "On the Moat", and let's keep looking at the facades because they are very nice.
We are now in the Republic Square - Náměstí Republiky - where we can admire the best example of Art Nouveau in town. This is the Municipal House or in Czech Obecní dům. It was built from 1906 to 1912 and now is used for concerts and exhibitions. On the ground floor, there is a café and a French restaurant. In the cellar, there is a Czech Pub, and on the first floor, there is a large concert hall, the Smetana Hall, where the opening concert is held for the Prague Spring, a musical festival held in May every year. At the place where the Municipal House is now, there used to be a Royal Court before that was abandoned in the late 1400s when the kings went back to the safer Castle.
On the left you can see a tower that once was the gate to the Old Town, then it became part of the Royal Court and it was later abandoned to be used in the 1700s as storage for gunpowder. Now it is called the Powder Tower. We now walk to Hybernska Street where we can see another nice Art Nouveau building, the Hotel Central made by the same architects of the Hotel Europa in Wenceslas square. A little further there is the American Cultural Center. Wow! How the history changes, this was the Lenin Museum in the past! On the opposite side of the street on the corner, the Café Arco was recently re-opened. It used to be the meeting place of Kafka, Brod and friends. They were called the Arconauts for this reason.
Take a look around the corner on the left and you will see the first Prague train station from 1845, now only for local traffic, dedicated to the first president T. G. Masaryk. We take Dlážděná Street to Senovážné náměstí, the old Hay Market. The buildings in the middle don't allow us to see the whole square. We turn right and then left to Jeruzalemska Street where we can see the Synagogue of the Jubilee built at the beginning of the 1900s in Moresque-Art Nouveau style. At the end of the street, we are in front of the Main Train Station. Its old part is worth seeing, so we cross the park and enter the modern station to go upstairs. This is another nice example of Art Nouveau.
We go back to the park and take Washingtonova Street to go back to our starting point, Wenceslas Square.I have two suggestions for your lunch break. They are both small breweries with restaurants where you can enjoy good beer. Beer is a must here. It helps you get in the Prague mood.