Architectural styles in Prague: a guide for investors in historical properties in Prague

Post date: Jun 17, 2020 12:55:27 PM

Architectural styles in Prague: a guide for investors in historical properties in Prague 

One of the things which makes Prague into a leading real estate investment site is its architecture. In fact, Prague can also be called "a world architectural treasure" without any exaggeration. Unlike other cities, where one can usually see one or two dominant architectural styles, in Prague one can be wowed by all of the central historical architectural styles in Europe: Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, Art Nouveau and many others. And if this is not enough, Prague has several architectural styles that developed into specific sub-styles that cannot be found anywhere else (for example, Czech Rondo Cubism, also known as Czech Art Deco). These architectural styles are expressed both in residential buildings and commercial buildings.

In order to avoid boring you, we will explain this complex topic to you in a manner which will be easy to digest and understand. To do so, we have tried to make this guide an enjoyable and example packed text as possible. So let's leave on a short chronologically – historically ordered tour in everything art afficionados might find to be of interest in Prague. We will start off with 1000-year-old architecture and conclude with fascinating contemporary architectural projects.

Romanesque architecture in Prague: the story of the cannonball in the wall

Romanesque architecture was inspired by the ancient Roman architecture and was typical of 11th to 13th century European architecture. The typical Romanesque structure had thick walls, thin windows, tall towers and massive supporting pillars. A famous example of Romanesque architecture in Prague is the Rotunda sv. Martina in the Vyšehrad fortress Park. this Rotunda structure is the most ancient of its type to be preserved and is beautifully set off on the background of the lovely scenery of Vyšehrad Park. When you are near it seek out the cannonball imprinted at the front of the building.

Another type of rotunda structure is the Rotunda of the Discovery of the Holy Cross (Rotunda Nalezení sv. Kříže). What makes this structure so fascinating is not only its own beauty, but also the completely different architecture surrounding it – as if it had been forgotten in place (or as if it belonged to another place and time).

Gothic architecture in Prague: the kind you can’t miss

The gothic style, which originated in France, dominated European architecture between the 13th and 16th century. You should definitely visit some of Prague's spectacular Gothic cathedrals. As soon as you enter, imagine that you are medieval residents of Prague, standing in awe before the glory of the kingdom of heaven. That effect is, of course, precisely the underlying premise of the gothic style cathedrals – to get the Christian faithful to feel 'small' compared to the power of Jesus and the Christian Church.

Renaissance in Prague: let's play ancient tennis!

Renaissance architects mostly sought to revive the classic architecture of ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. The renaissance period of Prague is dated between the 15th and 17th centuries. An unforgettable element of the Renaissance architecture is Sgrafitto, a method similar to wall painting (fresco). One can find an incredible example of this in the Míčovna building, when one wanders through the beautiful royal gardens near the Prague Castle in the Hradčany Prague Quarter  (The Castle Quarter). The meaning of the name Míčovna is banquet hall. This hall was used as a sort of sports hall for the nobility, where they played an ancient version of tennis.

That famous Prague Baroque

The first association people have in regard to Baroque is that of angelic cherubim with plump bellies and chubby hands, who cavort and play on the columns of churches. For architecture neophytes, Baroque is often the most recognizable style. Baroque in architecture is very intense, it makes use of many decorations, dramatic décor, colorfulness and extravaganza. The Baroque style sought to make those who viewed it to feel very emotional and involved in the artistic creation.

And indeed, the baroque style distinguishes Prague in terms of architecture. It can be found anywhere – from residences to castles and churches.

If you wish to enjoy the pinnacle of Baroque architecture in Prague, we recommend you take a long walk from the old city quarter Mala Strana towards the Loreta Square. This walk is a magical and enriching experience. As soon as you reach Loreta, don’t miss the massive Chernin Castle, whose main façade, 150 meters long, faces the Loreto Compound, and serves as the residence for the Czech Foreign Ministry.

The neoclassical style.

Much like the renaissance, the 19th century neoclassical style was heavily influenced by ancient Greece. Nonetheless, the 19th century, unlike the renaissance, did not require quite as many sumptuous palaces. That is why the neoclassical style was usually implemented on public buildings such as schools, hospitals and administrative buildings. A splendid example of this style are the capitol hill buildings in Washington D.C. , in the United States.

In Prague, the most famous neo-classical building is the "Estates Theater" (Stavovske Divadlo) built in the Old City of Prague in 1783. This theater was considered one of the most beautiful historical theater structures in Europe and was a centerpiece of the national Czech theater. The history of this theater is also closely associated with that of the genius musician Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – the world premiere of his opera Don Giovani was performed here and is still included in the repertoire.

The art nouveau of Prague and Hollywood films.

The motifs of the art nouveau architecture are flower and leaf patterns, combined with descriptions of beautiful women. The art nouveau architects also sought to eliminate the differences between visual to practical (everyday) arts, or classical art and modern art.

The most distinctive symbol of the Prague art nouveau architecture is the Prague Town Hall (Obenci dum) whose construction was completed in 1911 in what is now the Republic Square. Even in this case, this is precisely a case of a "must see" structure, which you can't miss when you are in Prague. Every visitor to Prague passes at least once in the Republic Square, so simply notice what is around you when you are there.

Another great building is the Grand Hotel Eyropa, located in the Vaclav Square. This hotel was renovated into an art nouveau style back in 1905. Its extraordinarily decorated façade also appeared in Hollywood films. For example, it served as a template for the décor of the restaurants in the "Titanic" movie, and also served for real filming of scenes from the movie "Mission Impossible" (1996).

Pseudo – Moorish style – a little oriental exoticism in Prague.

This is a fascinating and truly exotic style which was influenced by Europe's min 19th century artistic romanticism. The romanticists were fascinated by anything which seemed oriental to them. In Prague, the Moorish revival style was mostly adopted by the Jewish Community, which made use of it in the decoration of synagogues. The most famous examples are the Sephardic Synagogue in the Josefov Quarter and the Jerusalem Synagogue (Hayovel) near the Vaclav Square.

Cubism in architecture – a Czech phenomenon

You've surely heard of Pablo Picasso, right? And you must have seen some of the creations of the more familiar cubist artist. In principle he performed a geometric processing on everything, creating completely unique paintings. But how can cubism be transferred from canvas paintings to building facades? Well, very few architectures around the world made the attempt. It was in the Czech Republic, in the early 20th century, that the cubist principles began to be uniquely implemented on building design.

A Czech school of cubist thinkers, architects and designers became so unique and renowned, that the Czech branch of cubism was granted its own name: rondo cubism architecture. This style is characterized by greater decorativeness than ordinary cubism in architecture.

A surprising connection between Czech cubism and real estate investments can be found in the iconic cubist building of the Adria Palace, in the street corner of Narodni and Jungmannova. One of the centrals lease holders of the Adria Palace is the leading energy distribution company in Prague - Prague Energetics, who have an energy supply contract with most apartment owners in Prague. That is why every time an apartment owner sells, purchases or leases out his apartment, he needs to go through the PRE employees in the building. No real estate agent in Prague is unfamiliar with this building.

Another prominent cubist architecture building that is very popular with tourists is the Grand Orient Café in the Old City of Prague – it is considered to be the only cubist café in the world.

Socialist architecture – an unloved legacy of totalitarianism

Honestly, this is not something the residents of Prague are particularly proud of. But for good or ill, socialist architecture is part of the scenery, and can be perceived as part of the legacy of the ling period of communism, imbuing it with real testimony in the field. 

Socialist articles usually could not be creative or bring in their own design ideas. They were usually constrained to work according to standard concept approved as "politically correct". An example of this attitude is socialist realism. This style has usually been used to design representative structures of the state and led to the design of identical buildings throughout the Soviet Union.

The International Hotel in the Dejvice Neighborhood in Prague is an early example of this. It was constructed in the early 1950s under the supervision of the Ministry of Defense of the dictator Stalin in Prague. The hotel was strongly inspired (or simply plagiarized) by the Stalin Towers – a group of seven multistory buildings in Moscow, built as a symbol of pride in the Soviet Empire.

Prague's prefab buildings

We will now review a more common communist architectural "style", one that can be found everywhere in Prague – the panelak neighborhoods. Prague is considered by the world (and aspires to be) a beautiful city packed with magnificently designed neighborhoods and quarters. In reality, however, tens of thousands of Prague residents live in "panels" – blocks of prefabricated buildings who were so typical of countries under Soviet rule or influence.

During communist times the goal was to build as many apartments, as quickly as possible. As a result, the panelank buildings show zero creativity and aestheticism. This type of residential building dominates the neighborhoods of Prague that are farther from the center of the city.

A fascinating glimpse of Prague's contemporary architecture

One can proudly state that there are so many buildings with extraordinary décor from the past two decades that it is very difficult to select only a few examples. But we still tried. 

A great example of innovative, daring and progressive design which has recently made incursions into the residential structures of the Old City is the "Dancing House" in the Jirásek Square, only a few meters from the Vltava River. The shape of the two towers of the building was inspired by the famous dancing couple Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Currently, the structure serves as a hotel, a gallery, and prestigious office space.

Another daring example is the DRN building, which brought a little piece of nature into downtown Prague. When you look at aerial photographs of it, one can easily imagine it to be a verdant hill, because vegetation and greenery cover the entire façade of the building.

Innovative and important architecture for the development of new residential real estate

"Marina Island" on the Vltava River

A project of the Israeli entrepreneur DARAMIS, on a spectacular location on a peninsula jutting into the Vltava River. Buildings harmonically designed by the prize decorated architecture firm of Moshe Tzur and the AED project offer serenity, comfort and bountiful nature to all visitors. In contrast, the bustle of the city, employment opportunities, shops, cafes, culture and sport and everything else one might desire are only a short walk away, and the project is no more than eight minutes away from the center of Prague.

The V Towers – the first luxury residential skyscraper in Prague.

This V shaped building has a unique appearance. The apartments in the top floors offer a spectacular view of all of Prague – for the right price. The rate of the penthouses in the top floor reaches 200 million Czech Korunas (almost 8 million Euro!).

This is the first European residential project with the Leed Platinum certificate, the certificate requiring the most stringent environmental, operational efficiency, a residential comfort condition. The project has won two prestigious international assets awards. In the "multistory development" categories the project was awarded with all five possible stars, whereas in the "high rise residential architecture" the project reached the world finals and was designated one of the eight best buildings in the world.

The Dock Residence Project

The motto of the real estate developer Crestyl is "always look for the wow effect". This certainly applies to this magical project on both banks of the Vltava river. Part of the residence is a small pier where boats up to one meter long can dock. The project incorporates residential buildings and green commercial buildings. As a result, a new 'quarter', packed and bustling, is created – during the day it is filled by employees, and at night by residents. The project has won many architectural awards, and its new stages are still under construction, in order to create a sort of a magical "city within a city".

Green, innovative, office buildings in Prague

Primary trends in commercial real estate are the sustainability trend and the trend of modern office solutions, such as flexible or shared workspaces. One of the leading examples of implementing these trends can be seen in the "Visionary Building" constructed by the real estate developer CA Immo In the bustling Holašovice quarter. The project not only ensures healthy work conditions for workers, but fun as well. This is the first building in Prague with a running track on the roof, and the building holds the LEED Platinum certificate, the highest energetic rating a building can be awarded with.

Another flagship project of this contractor is the Amazon Court office building. "Who said Prague cannot have a jungle within the city?" was the question presented by the developer CA Imno during the construction of the Amazon Court in the Karlin District. The building won several international awards, particularly for its ecological solutions. Its seven stories are dominated by a beautiful interior atrium which is filled with daylight, greenery and pools of water. It is a place where you can breathe refreshing air and chill out, even in the middle of a workday.

In Karlin you can also find the building with the largest vertical garden in Central Europe – AFI Karlin, built by Africa Israel. Beyond being simply beautiful, the vegetation reduces the dust and regulates the air moisture and the temperature of the façade. Around 60,000 plants grow over a total area of 1,400 square meters. Every office in the building is capable of regulating its temperature, ensuring maximum comfort for workers at the site.

Mosaic house in the center of the city of Prague is the first hotel in the Czech Republic to earn a BREEAM excellence certificate. The building uses 100% renewable energy, a gray water system. The building includes additional environmentally friendly means such as solar panels on the roof, rooms with automatic air conditioning responding to the occupancy of the room, electric shading, RainDance technology showers, low flow restrooms and energy parsimonious lighting.


In this article we have tried to give you a hint of the conflicts and surprises you might find when you discover Prague's architecture. If you are real estate investors considering the purchase of a property (an apartment or a building) in the Czech Republic, we are sure you will find this article extremely useful. If, as your interest develops, you will find yourself in need of assistance in moving forward, we will be happy to help you, both in the purchase and in the management of the property thereafter.