Art Nouveau & Cubist Architecture: Prague after 1900

3-Hour Tour

One of The Guardian’s 10 Best Architecture Tours in the World

Uncover the History that Prompted a New National Style

Explore the radical design aesthetics that swept across Europe and flourished in Prague at the turn of the century. This Art Nouveau and Cubist architecture tour represents a pre-war social elite with new standards for modern luxury, a clubby commercial class that drank absinthe and the first mixed cocktails, booked voyages on ocean liners, and read fashion magazines. It isn’t an accident that most Art Nouveau buildings are hotels, elegant bars, restaurants, and train stations. These were the watering holes of those enjoying the fruits of 19th-century industrialization in the first decade of the 20th century before global war swallowed up their world. During this architecture tour of Prague, you take in the dramatic social and political history of the Czech capital in the 20th century, even while discovering how the style was embraced by the nationalist cause along with Cubist architecture (a building style unknown outside of the Czech Republic). See why this tour was featured in The Guardian as one of the ten best architecture tours in the world and in The Week as one of the five best architecture tours in Europe.

Learn to identify the features of Art Nouveau, from gingko biloba leaves to elaborate lighting fixtures to curvy typography.

Visit the beautiful Lucerna bar (built by Vaclav Havel’s grandfather), the elegant Grand Hotel Europa and Prague’s monumental Municipal House.

Experience exquisite interiors throughout Prague with the help of your expert guide.

Take in the features of Prague’s unique Cubist and Rondocubist architecture, including the House of the Black Madonna and the Legiobanka, built to house the accounts of the WWI Legionnaires.

Tour Details
Price

Private tour – $240 USD (1-10 persons)
*your guide all to yourself

 

Small groups – $45 USD per person
*still intimate with 8 persons or less


Departure time

Private tours: daily at 10 AM and 2 PM

 

Small groups:

  • Tuesday 10 AM
  • Thursday 10 AM
  • Sunday 10 AM

Meeting point

Private tours include a pick-up at your central hotel or flat

 

Small groups: The House of the Black Madonna /
Grand Cafe Orient, Ovocný trh 19, Old Town, Prague 1

Click here to see map

Availability

Year-round


Duration

3 hours


Group size

Private tours: 1-10 persons
Groups of over 10 should contact us at info@insightcities.com in order to get a special rate for their party.

 

Small groups: 2-8 persons


Participation requirements

Our walks operate rain or shine, though, in the case of inclement weather, our guides often make alterations for our guests’ comfort.


What to bring

Comfortable walking shoes


About your guide

Read about our Prague guides


Cancellation policy

For cancellations 72 hours prior to your scheduled tour, Insight Cities offers a full refund. We cannot refund cancellations within 72 hours of a scheduled tour as we need to pay our guide.

Overview of Your Tour

large room in cafe with low hung chandeliers

In France, it was called Art Nouveau and Style Moderne, and once this modern manner dominated the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris, it came to be known as Style 1900; it was also referred to as Style Métro (after Paris metro designer Hector Guimard) as well as Style Mucha (after the great Czech graphic artist whose posters are considered Art Nouveau par excellence). In Munich and Berlin, it was called Jugendstil, and in Austria-Hungary, it was known as the Sezession. Art Nouveau left its mark across Europe and it was eagerly, even ecstatically adopted in Prague.

At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, Prague was experiencing a whirlwind of national revival activity and ultimately, this movement was embodied in the form of Art Nouveau. From the Main Train Station and the monumental Municipal House to the entire district of Josefov (the former Jewish Ghetto), Art Nouveau constructions represent some of the most significant sights of this city.

tour guide talking to group about large yellow building in backgroundMost of us — when we think of the Art Nouveau buildings and the fine art of the early 20th century — automatically picture intricate floral forms in ironwork and those dreamy, mythic Art Nouveau women with flowing hair. Our guides emphasize that these commonly recognized features of Art Nouveau aesthetics cannot be fully understood without taking into account the new culture of cosmopolitan entertainment, enthusiastic consumption, new opportunities for travel and leisure, the rise of a liberal and reform-minded middle class, and an array of modern technological conveniences.

During this Prague Art Nouveau tour, you’ll learn to recognize the style’s main features from the ginkgo biloba leaves on façades which reveal its oriental influences, to the elaborate light fixtures that mark Art Nouveau interiors, and the curvy, campy typography on building signs that echo contemporary magazine and poster graphics. You’ll visit the beautiful Lucerna bar (built by Vaclav Havel’s grandfather) and the elegant Grand Hotel Europa—examples of a moment of Czech optimism at the turn of the century, signaling the region’s transcendence of older ethnic grievances and its readiness to join Europe by participating in European-wide avant-gardes.

long windows with copper green metalAs an important parallel, we visit examples of Prague’s Cubist and Rondocubist architecture (a building style unknown outside of the Czech Republic), including the House of the Black Madonna (created by Josef Gočár in 1910 as an urbane department store). In many respects, Prague’s Cubist architecture surpassed even Art Nouveau as a statement of the city’s newfound sense of modern sophistication and resurgent national identity. We’ll follow the Czech Cubist movement as it emerged and ultimately became “national style,” the only appropriate choice for the 1920’s Legiobanka, built to house the accounts of the WWI Legionnaires who fought for Czech and Slovak nationhood.

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