Prague: Obecní dům – a Genius Loci of fine Art Nouveau


Great sculptors and painters of their time have created an architectural treasure, whose masterly opulence bears witness to their genius to this day. Jan Preisler, Mikoláš Aleš, Max Švabinský, František Ženíšek, Ladislav Šaloun, Josef Mařatka, Josef Václav Myslbek or Alfons Mucha – names difficult to pronounce – were but a small fraction within the remarkable group of skillful artists involved in building and decorating Obecní dům – the Municipal House located right in the heart of Prague. Since its inauguration in January of 1912, the extraordinary building has served as a splendid stage for atmospheric concerts, grand festive balls and fancy fashion shows and is justly listed a national heritage site.

Its two protagonists – the Smetana Hall and the restaurant Francouzská – alone are well worth the trip to Prague, from whichever corner of the globe it may have to commence.

A cultural monument for the citizens: Obecní dům

Obecní dům in Prague

Obecní dům, a masterpiece of concerted Czech art, side by side with its famous neighbour: the Gothic Powder Tower is a testament of an era, when the country was ruled by Bohemian kings.

Art Nouveau Lamps

Alfons Mucha, one of the Czech Republic’s greatest sons, regarded art an essential benefit to humanity that should be seen and enjoyed by as many people as possible. The independent Mucha Foundation preserves and actively promotes Mucha’s work through worldwide exhibitions and publications and locally runs the Mucha Museum

The truly singular Muncipal House in Prague.

The truly singular Municipal House was built by Czech architects Antonin Balšánek and Osvald Polivka. Its most prominent venue, the magnificent Smetana Hall, forms the centrepiece and is several floors high. Designed as a multipurpose space, the hall is dominated by the organ decorated with a medallion depicting Bedřich Smetana, who gained international fame through his powerful musical work „Vltava“ – The Moldau. Smetana Hall, home to the Prague Symphony Orchestra, seats 1,067 for concerts. Interesting details for MICE planners are here:

The splendid Francouzská restaurant in Obceni Dum + Prague

The ravishing Francouzská on the ground floor is considered one of Prague’s finest restaurants holding two valuable Gault & Millau toques (equals 15 of 20 possible points). Its stunning interior exudes authentic Art Nouveau charm and features large stained-glass windows, original furniture, upholstery and silverware. Contributors to impressively embellishing the ceiling with stucco ornaments and paintings, were noted Czech sculptors and painters such as František Kraumann and Alfons Mucha.

The Old Town of Prague

The Old Town of Prague: could a city be more picturesque?

Photo credits:

Header image (Smetana Hall), Francouzská Restaurant (interior) and Old Town of Prague courtesy of ©

Image Obecní dům (exterior) provided by ©Francouzská Restaurant.

Art Nouveau lamps: ©Christina Feyerke