The Czech Republic is a nexus of numerous cultures and historical architectural styles. The Czech Republic has explicitly contributed to the trends of European architecture, from Bohemian Gothic to Bohemian Baroque to Renaissance. Contributions from the twentieth century include Socialist realism, the Cubist Czech interpretation of architecture and well-known iconic pieces of modern architecture like Mies van der Rohe’s world-heritage-listed Villa Tugendhat. Prague‘s stunning city also features masterpieces of modern architecture that are a must-see, in addition to its historic bridges and modernist structures.
Czech Gothic architecture
Czech Gothic refers to the style of architecture prevalent in the modern Czech Republic region during the Late Middle Ages. In the first part of the 13th century, the Gothic architectural style first arose in the Czech lands and was popular until the early 16th century. The Bohemian governing dynasty of the corresponding period is frequently used as the name for the periods of the development of Gothic architecture in the Czech Republic. Peter Parler and Benedikt Rejt were the most notable Gothic architects who lived and worked in the Czech Republic.
Czech Renaissance architecture
Czech Renaissance architecture describes the early modern era’s architectural development in Bohemia, Moravia, and Czech Silesia. The Renaissance style was in vogue from the latter half of the 15th through the beginning of the 17th century. The Renaissance style was more slowly adopted in the Crown of Bohemia than in southern Europe, and it took longer to mature than in Italy. The holdings of the Catholic aristocracy or the Catholic king contain the earliest instances of Renaissance architecture in the Czech Republic. In the 1490s, the Czech Kingdom witnessed the emergence of the Renaissance style. With the oldest known cases of Renaissance architecture, Bohemia was among the regions of the Holy Roman Empire.
The Bohemian Crown’s territories were never a part of the ancient Roman Empire; as a result, they were deprived of their old classical legacy and were forced to rely mostly on Italian models. The Gothic architectural style has also persisted throughout Central European nations, particularly in the church building. Traditional Gothic architecture was seen as ageless and capable of expressing God’s eternity or emphasising the vast history of its employed location. In Bohemia and Moravia, Renaissance and Gothic architecture coexisted until the late 16th century. Sgraffito was frequently used to embellish the fronts of buildings during the Czech Renaissance (figural or ornamental). The Bible often served as an inspiration for the figural sgraffito and relief decorations.
Czech Baroque architecture
Czech Baroque refers to the 17th and 18th-century architectural eras in Bohemia, Moravia, and Czech Silesia. The Baroque style also altered the rural landscape of the Czech Republic. Due to its vastness and extraordinariness, Czech baroque architecture is considered a unique component of European cultural heritage. The Czech Republic was one of the important Baroque artistic centres in the first third of the 18th century. The development of the Radical Baroque style, which Francesco Borromini and Guarino Guarini started in Italy, was uniquely finished in Bohemia. The three most prominent practitioners of the Czech High Baroque architectural movement were Jan Blaej Santini-Aichel, Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer, and Christoph Dientzenhofer.
The Thirty Years’ War triumph by the Catholic Church, which resulted in the Catholic Church becoming the only recognized religion in the Kingdom of Bohemia (as of 1627) and Margraviate of Moravia, coincided with the spread of the Baroque style in the Crown of Bohemia (from 1628). Early in the 18th century, the Czech Republic experienced its Baroque-style heyday. Many of the Baroque architects who worked, resided, and frequently passed away in the Czech lands were of foreign descent or origin, primarily Italy. However, some also came from Bavaria, Austria, or France.
Although Maria Theresa (1740–1780) is primarily remembered for her use of the late Baroque architectural style in the Czech Republic, following her death, Neoclassical architecture increasingly took its place, and eventually Empire style. The renovation of Prague Castle by the Viennese architect Nicolo Pacassi heralds the shift from Baroque to Neoclassicism. Following him and Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer was Ignác Jan Nepomuk Palliardi, whose work combines the already highly regarded Baroque tradition with Classicist design. Another architect who transitioned from Baroque to Classicism, Antonn Haffenecker, is linked to Pacassi and Johann Bernhard Fischer.
The First French Empire under Napoleon I is mainly linked to the imperial style era. Clean, regular designs with minimum embellishment and straight-to-raw lines are typical of Empire architecture. Empire architecture is characterised by its frequent use of recognizable columns and larger structures’ triangular faces. Kaina Chotkov Castle is the most significant structure constructed in the Empire style. However, other noteworthy examples include the Frytat (Lottyhaus) castle in Karviná, Boskovice, Pohansko (Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape), and Kostelec nad Orlic Castle. The magnificent chateau in Daice is a fascinating illustration of how classicism gave way to the Empire style.
Czech architecture benefited greatly from the Art Nouveau craze at the turn of the 20th and 19th centuries. Several churches or castle structures, private homes, hotels, or public structures (town halls, schools, crematoria), are typical Art Nouveau structures.The avant-garde creative movement known as cubism first emerged at the turn of the 20th century and was based on brand-new concepts. French art critic Louis Vauxcelles coined “Cubism” for the first time in 1908.
Rondo Cubism is a distinctive regional design style of Czech architecture. It emerged as a separate branch of the Cubist movement in the newly founded Czechoslovakia after World War I, where it briefly overtook the national style. Architecture has been aiming for functionalism since the 1920s, a design aesthetic emphasising practicality, use, and functionality. The maxim “form follows function” serves as the direction’s compass, and in practice, it expresses itself in simple, occasionally austere lines.
Late and postmodernism
Socialist realism was necessary as the official fashion in the 1950s. However, due to its presentation at Expo 58 in Brussels in the late 1950s, the new style—”Brussels”—became well-liked in architecture (and, naturally, in design). Its rounded forms and glass facades distinguished it. The Brussels style was supplanted by the Czech variation of brutalism in the late 1960s. The Brussels style was replaced by the Czech variation of brutalism in the late 1960s. The Prague-based Dancing House by Frank Gehry and Vlado Milu, which Václav Havel personally commissioned, is frequently cited as an example of post-modern architecture.
In conclusion, the architecture of the Czech Republic is a reflection of its rich and diverse history. From the Gothic cathedrals to the Renaissance and Baroque palaces, the Neoclassical and Empire style buildings to the Modern period constructions, the country has excellent architectural styles that showcase its cultural heritage. The Late and Postmodernism styles have also left their mark on the cityscape, resulting in a fascinating blend of old and new. With its beautiful buildings and rich architectural history, the Czech Republic is a truly unique and remarkable destination for architecture enthusiasts and travellers.
- Czech architecture, Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czech_architecture [Accessed February 14, 2023].
- Czech Gothic architecture, Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czech_Gothic_architecture [Accessed February 14, 2023].
- Czech Renaissance architecture, Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czech_Renaissance_architecture [Accessed February 14, 2023].
- Czech Baroque architecture, Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czech_Baroque_architecture [Accessed February 14, 2023].