Municipal Hall

Motto: Genuine Art Nouveau in Siege of Tourists

The address of the Municipal Hall is No 5 NáměstíRepubliky, Prague 1.
It is one of the most famous Prague structures built in the style of Art Nouveau.

History

The Municipal Hall is situated at the beginning of so called Prague City Line (or Royal Rout). Originally it was the place where the King´s Court was built by the king Wenceslas IV around the year 1380. In addition to a palace the Court buildings involved noblemen´s houses, a bath, cages with lions and a garden. After Wenceslas IV, it was the place where his brother Sigismund and other rulers lived. Among them were George of Poděbrady, Vladislav of theJagellonians, who moved his seat from Prague´s Old Town to Prague Castle.

The King´s Palace was the place from which coronation processions of Czech kings used to start.

The Habsburgs, who occupied the Czech throne from 1526 on were not any longer interested in King´s Court. The royal seat which had been buildings he established an Archbishop´s Seminary. In 1776 the Seminary was moved to Clementinummonastery and the King´s Court was allotted to military, which madethere a caserne.

The idea of building a Municipal Hall resulted from the need to establish a center of Czech national and social life, as a counterpart to the German Hall (at present Slavic Hall).

After rather a longish architectural competition the Municipal Hall was built in the years 1905-1912 according to the design by the architects Antonín Balšánek and OsvaldPolívka. The Municipal Hall is one of the foremost structures of Prague´s Art Nouveau, which, however, at the beginning of its existence was accepted with embarrassment and was criticized. At the time of its dedication the style in which the Municipal Hall had been built, was considered by some architects as outdated. Later it became obvious that that style is an exceptional connection of visual styles of the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The impression from the unique architectural style is amplified by exquisite decorationsof the building by such painters like MikolášAleš, Max Švabinský, FrantišekŽeníšek, AlfonsMucha, Jan Preisler and Václav Jansa, as well as the sculptors Josef Václav Myslbek, Josef Mařatka and Ladislav Šaloun, to name at least the most important artists.

The Municipal Hall has undergone several partial reconstructions, the last one in the years 1994-1997.

Our impressions

The afternoon coffee at the end of August. One of the sunny days of a weary summer. It´s pleasantly warm. Most of the visitorsgave preference to sitting outdoors in “the little garden”, as it is called.

We enter the Municipal Hall through the imposing entrance and continue to the café, which is next door on your left. Everything is in a unified style, typical interior including a cascade fountain at the front of the hall, in the style of Art Nouveau. The walls are covered with inlaid wooden tiling. Huge Art Nouveau chandeliers with crystal glass elements and corresponding all inner details, making a harmonious whole, contribute to creating the atmosphere typical of the cafés of the early 20th century.A welcome complement of the social environment is a café orchestra with swing repertory, which starts its performance at 4 p. m. sharp.

The offered menu comprises breakfast of most different kinds and names: Czech, French, English, Milk or even Abundant.

A large offer of cold cuisine including vegetable dishes, salads and omelet are also available.

As for coffee, not only coffee of all basic types is served, but also special variants like Bombardino and Mexican coffee.

Vine: Moravian, Italian, Australian and Chillian.

In case you are almost starving, a special day menu is at your disposal.

We order espresso. The coffee is served in stylish cups of asymmetrical shape with the logo of the Municipal Hall. On a nickel silver tray is, apart from the cup of coffee, a small glass of water and a small pot with milk. Desserts are offered from a trolley, which is covered with a glass hood. So the customers may watch the sweets properly. We choose a chocolate cake, again with the logo of the Municipal Hall, and a piece of nut cake. Both are magnificent.

The surrounding hall looks so spacious that a visitor may feel almost lost. Waiters and waitresses areidle and not very attentive. The outfit of the personnel is not as perfect and adequate as might be expected.

Though the artistic value of the interior of the Municipal Hall is indisputable, we don´t feel comfortable. The café is mostly oriented on foreign clients: around us we can hear English, Spanish, Italian and French. On and off you also hear a click of a camera.

Conclusion: exceptional interior, good coffee, service has still reserves.

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