Prague’s Astounding Architecture

Sun-gilded buildings on the Old Town Square at around 8 p.m.

One day left in Prague — we have explored it on foot from top to bottom, taken trams and the metro, and feel we’ve done it justice — but I can’t leave without taking another look at the astounding architecture. Every time you turn a corner, there is a new façade in a delicious new colour or another unusual sculpted figure or a different mischievous cherub.


Mustard-yellow, Salmon-pink … these are apartment buildings!



Lime or mint-green is a favoured colour, and it’s always gorgeous.


Gothic, Baroque, Art Nouveau … it’s all here.



There are also modern parts to the city, one area even called Nové Mĕsto which translates as “New Town”. This unusual-looking building above right is known as the Dancing House (think Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers), and was designed by one of my favourite architects Frank Gehry, together with Vlado Milunič. It’s in fact two buildings and two individual façades.


Worthy of a wedding cake. Always, always, elaborate decorative mouldings.

This is the closest we got to the Spanish Synagogue, with its distinctively Moorish details. Its lavish interior details are reminiscent of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, hence the name. Ironically, it’s the ONE site we were determined to see on our visit . . . and it’s closed for renovations!!! Grrr…

Left a detail on the Spanish Synagogue, right a blessing hand on the wall of a Christian edifice.


So this is the hilarious part about how Hirsh and I do our exploring. “The one last building I really, really have to see before we leave is the Municipal House”, I insist one evening, having trawled through our guidebook. So we set out to find it. Yet once we’ve located it, we realise that we walked right past it on our first day in Prague. We even walked inside, and I posted an image of the colourful Art Nouveau glass canopy. The mosaic is titled “Homage to Prague”. Talk about blundering into famous sites without having a clue you’ve done so. No Asian city tours for us.

Elaborate isn’t the word. The Municipal House is one of Prague’s most famous buildings and houses a major concert hall, Smetana Hall, which is also used as a ballroom. Many works by the Art Nouveau artist, Alphons Mucha, are featured inside.


The Art Nouveau decor at a cafe/restaurant inside (taken on our first exploratory tour!).


Last but not least is the very, very famous Astronomical Clock. The top dial shows the movement of the sun and moon through the signs of the zodiac, and also the planets around the earth. The bottom dial has pictorial images corresponding to the zodiac symbols. Every day, on the hour, as the clock chimes tourists gather outside the tower to watch a supposed procession by 12 apostles.

So there we stood, at 12 noon in the blazing sun on one of Prague’s hottest days, heads craned upwards, a backup of 10,000 troops breathing down our necks (the tourists). We watched and waited with bated breath. When the clock finally chimed, those two blue doors at the top slid open, and slowly, slowly, 12 shadowy figures bobbed and wobbled past the openings. It didn’t help that there was netting on the apertures, obscuring our viewing. When it was all over everyone tittered a little self-consciously, having stood so transfixed for something that was just a teeny bit underwhelming. Fun, nonetheless and I’m glad we did it.

The best part was the skeleton on the outside façade who purportedly pulled the string (his arm did move up and down) for the chiming of the bell.