The Prague Dancing House – Fred and Ginger
This building was opened in 1996 and a year later it was still a hot topic of conversation as to whether it was suitable for this location. True, all the buildings surrounding it were built between 1870 and 1890 but can anybody realistically believe that any “new” building be created in an 1880’s style i.e. Neo-1880’s? It’s not as if they demolished an old building to make way for it.
Why is the Prague Dancing House here?
On February 14th 1945 at 1pm a bombing raid occurred over Prague. It was famous for two things. Firstly, more people were killed in Prague during this bombing than any other in WWII. Secondly, the crews who took part in that bombing mission thought they were bombing DRESDEN and you can read more about that on the Prague World War Two Bombings post. Yes, they bombed us by mistake. The building which originally stood in this place was destroyed that day. A young boy was living next door at that time and his name was Vaclav Havel. For the next 40 years he dreamt that it would be nice to build something special in this place. In 1986 as Vaclav Havel was spending time in prison for his political views and in between sentences the Havel family employed a little known architect to redesign their apartments. The architect was the Croatian Vladimir Milunic and he told Havel of an idea that he had.
What happened next?
On December 28th 1989 Vaclav Havel became President of Czechoslovakia and this brought him into contact with people that could make this dream a reality. He got an agreement from a Dutch Insurance Company called Nationale Nederlanden (eventually becomes ING Bank) to actually pay for it to be built and in 1992 the plans for the Dancing House are made with Havel’s architect (Milunic) and the inclusion of a second architect, Frank Gehry. From the start it caused a lot of discussion due to it’s ultra-modern glass and steel design but the Dancing House was always seen as Vaclav Havel’s “baby”. In 1996 the Dancing House formally opened to reviews both positive and negative but over the years it has been accepted as one of Prague’s iconic buildings.
Why Is It Called the Dancing House?
Maybe this short video that I made years ago will help you understand. Play the video, watch the screen change, identify the characters and which parts of the building represent them. You can learn the full story of the bombing and the inspiration on the Prague City Walking Tour.
There’s also a hotel in the building so for more information about staying here check the Dancing House Hotel.