Prague Architecture

Romanesque Architecture

  The pre-Romanesque and Romanesque arts from the 9th to mid-13th century began the period of medieval arts in our countries, which lasted up to the first half of the 16th century, when the first signs of Renaissance began to appear.

 The term "Romanesque arts" was used first by Charles de Gerville, French archeologist, in 1818. He based it on the analogy with the term "Romanic language", which is used by contemporary linguists to describe the languages based on Latin: according to Gerville, in the same manner, in which Latin was replaced by such languages, the Romanesque arts replaced the antique culture in the territory of the former Roman Empire and its provinces. However, the antique culture remained as its templet and foundation. For many years it was believed that the Romanesque is only a primitive substitute of the Roman architecture, which was not perceived by the Barbarian tribes of the 6th to 8th centuries.

 The Romanesque architecture was called Norman in England, since it was brought there by the conquerors after 1066 from Normandy. It replaced the domestic Anglo-Saxon tradition. In southern Italy, invaded by the Normans just a short time before, the domestic culture surrendered to Arabian-Byzantine influences and a peculiar mixed style emerged, typical for this border territory.

Gothic Architecture

  The general term "Gothic" is not really the best one to use for European arts from the mid-12th up to mid-16th century, which are heterogeneous in their forms and content. The term itself was created almost by mistake and due to a lack of understanding among the representatives of the following culture, being chronologically subsequent, but totally different, with respect to its direction. The term "Gothic", meaning the arts of the barbarian tribes of Gothes or Germans (maniera dei Goti, maniera tedesca), was used for the first time by the Italian humanists Filarete and Manetti in the 15th century, and then by Vasari in the 16th century, in order to describe the "barbarian" style, ruling before the accession of Renaissance and which, according to their opinion, totally departed from the antique arts.

Renaissance Architecture

  Whereas in Italy the Renaissance derives from classical antiquity and simultaneously arises rather organically from the national medieval art blended with classical tradition, in the transalpine countries, and hence also in the Czech lands, embracing Renaissance means a sweeping ideological change. It is like an entirely new artistic language, a language of an unknown "lexicography" (vocabulary) of architectural themes, types and textures, unusual and difficult "morphology" and "syntax" (composition) of architectural elements, layout models, compositional and proportional schemes and solutions. Not surprisingly, the Italians were the exponents of the new style also in Bohemia and Moravia, with their characteristic sense of logical order and standardisation; nevertheless, they were strongly influenced by the local environment and adapted themselves to it.

Baroque Architecture

  The architectural monuments of the 17th and 18th centuries have a special and exceptional position in Bohemia and Moravia. This is because they represent the most plentiful, consistent and perhaps also the best preserved layer of the architectural heritage. The development of architecture left behind an abundance of churches, chateaux, palaces, houses, utility buildings and smaller chapels and Calvary crosses and took a decisive share in the creation and forming of the countryside as well as the urban and rural conurbations. Without exaggeration, it can be said that it was precisely the Baroque that artistically enriched and aesthetically accentuated the countryside and forever connected the architecture and its inhabitants with the nature. The extent and the exceptionality of the building production of the Baroque period placed the Czech lands among the classically Baroque countries and contributed to the fact that the Czech Baroque architecture became an important element of the history of art and its value represents an integral part of the treasury of the European culture.

Architecture of the 19th century

 The abbot Mayer was successful in protecting the Strahov Monastery from the Josephine secularisation and developed cultural activities exceptional for that time. As the old Theological Hall became insufficient for the big order library, he began to build a wing of the Philosophical Hall on the place of the former granary on the opposite side of the courtyard. As the first, the architect Palliardi together with the sculptor Ignac Michael Platzer completed the front facade and its area design with sharp "carving" and particularly the "funeral" character of the ornaments represented the typical borderline of the late Baroque and neo-classicism. When the Premonstratensian monastery in Louka at Znojmo was dissolved in 1784, the Strahov abbot decided to save the famous interior of the local library. He invited its authors to Prague. The original author Johann Lahofer of Tasovice installed majestic furnishing here and monumental ceiling wall painting, and Franz Anton Maulbertsch made a Catholic-Enlightenment apotheosis of the Spiritual development of mankind.

Architecture of the 20th century

Stormy 20th century brought an unprecedented development of new technologies and a turbulent qualitative change of architectonic styles and trends as never before. The development was as rapid that the individual trends ended earlier than they managed to be developed. Explorers of the new trends disappeared from the scene earlier than they managed to enforce their visions. No dominating styles could be seen, mostly several architectonic trends were used simultaneously. It was nothing easy to know a lot about this dramatic event, however, let's give it a try.