Secessionist Prague Architecture
What you now have to realize is that the last thousand years of design and architecture has been dominated either by Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance or Baroque, each holding for no less than 200 years apiece. That’s a lot of history and religion. Note that I now run a Prague Architecture Tour for people who want to really get into who designed much of the centre of this city and why.
In Vienna, for many years either the birthplace or ruling location for the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor, a group of artists and architects make a complete break with all previous forms of accepted artistic content.
The clue is in the name. Secession was basically a separation or the ending of a period. It was also called “Jungendstil” (the style of the young). These “young guns” were determined to pursue a new course, one that explored different styles of art and design. There was grandeur but not excessive. There was colour and style but not religious and you won’t find the organic decoration that comes later with Art Nouveau. Take a close look and you’ll see themes from this period repeating again and again through Art Nouveau, Cubism and Modernism.
Prague Secession was fairly limited compared with Vienna but still there’s a clear attempt at creating clean and stylish buildings but dropping the curly Baroque decor and grandeur.
Where to See Prague Secessionist Architecture
I walk down streets as part of my Old Town and Jewish Quarter walking tour where you’ll see an abundance of Secessionist style. The first is “Elišky Krasnohorské”. As you would learn from the tour, this street is bordered on both sides by what is considered to be a late version Jungendstil as many of the buildings are @1913. No Art Nouveau even though it’s in the same period. Look for the ceramics and coloured glass. The other is Stupartska (the road behind the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn). At the church end it’s clearly Gothic but as you pass “Mala Stupartska” the left side of the street has three blocks which have the Prague Secession look using coloured ceramic tiles and coloured glass to a different extent. Not immediately ornamental but let your eyes roam over them for 30 seconds or so and the decoration slowly appears.
The Prague Architecture Tour
I spent so long reading, learning and presenting architectural details of the city that I decided to offer a specialised tour. This is mainly for people who want to understand why the central part of Prague looks the way it does. Read more about the Prague Architecture Tour.
The next era – ART NOUVEAU