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Walls, strongly built
City fortifications belong among the oldest of city monuments. They are the evidence of their importance and the social standing of their citizens, proof of their construction and organisational abilities.
Even though the Czech Republic is not very big, it has a large number of architectural monuments. Evidence of this is given by the large number of sites in this country that are part of the UNESCO World Heritage. UNESCO. Today, there are already 11 such sites. In this "land of milk and honey", as people often refer to it, you will find many other monuments or building complexes of all architectural styles that were linked with historic events of the nation.
The oldest preserved monuments on the territory of what is today the Czech Republic date back to the time of the Bohemian state of the early Middle Ages. The Romanesque style came to Bohemia from the West and South in connection with Slavonic settlement. The style was adapted in line with the local environment and natural conditions. Today, you can still find massive rotundas, stone houses and towers, simple churches without side aisles and vaulted basilicas dating back to this time. Some of the most important include the Basilica of St. Prokop from the middle of the 13th century in Třebíč, the stone bridge in Písek from the 13th century (the oldest church in the Czech Republic), St. Catherine's Rotunda in Znojmo and the old walls in Louny.
The Gothic style greatly influenced the Czech environment over three centuries beginning with the 13th century. Holy Roman Emperor and Bohemian King Charles IV left his mark on the architecture of his time. At the time of High Gothic he had many imposing buildings built. This was a time of building new towns with fortified walls and castles on hills that were very difficult to penetrate. Famous architects of that time included Matyáš of Arrasu, Petr Parléř and others. While visiting the Czech Republic you will come across examples of preserved monuments at every step. Among the most well-known is the dominant of the Bohemian Středohoří mountains Bezděz, the extensive Pernštejn and Kost Castle , where you will find a collection of historical weapons.
The wealth and power of the Catholic Church left its distinct mark on the Middle Ages. We can find their fortified monastery complexes and Gothic churches with incredibly high vaulting, which shows people how small they are in their earthly existence. These includeSt. Barbora's Cathedral in Kutná Hora, which was entered in the World Heritage list of UNESCO, the only Cistercian convent of Porta Coeli in Tišnov, the monasteries of Zlatá Koruna and Vyšší Brod in South Bohemia.
This style renewed the human dimension of architecture. People became the reason why buildings were built and they were designed to meet people's needs. Thus in the 16th century the nobles tended to move out of their uncomfortable Gothic castles and into newly built stately homes with elegant arcaded courtyards and geometrically arranged gardens with fountains and statues. The stress at that time was on comfort and everything was subordinated to this. For example, we can mention the stately homes at Blatná, ve Velkéch Losiny, Hrubý Rohozec and the town centre of Slavonice.
The artistic endeavour of high baroque in Bohemia gradually gave way to the more modest dimensions of rococo, used particularly in interiors until it was pushed out in the middle of the 18th century by neoclassicism, which became the dominant style. The France of the Enlightenment stood at the head of this style, building noble chateaus with columns, theatres, colonnades and victory arches reminiscent of Antiquity. Czech monuments of these styles include the Archbishop's rococo chateau in Kroměříž, the Lednice-Valtice complex, which belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage,UNESCO and the summer residence with unique library in Kačina. However, this does not only include chateaus, but also colonnades in spa towns as well as those built in chateau grounds.
The 19th century was one of romantic historicism, which is not a style in itself, but rather a mixture of architecture inspired by former styles, mostly according to English and German models. However, this period left a large number of castles and stately homes, town halls, churches, theatres, spa buildings, etc. Examples that represent them all are the castle of Bouzov - a Romanesque reconstruction of an originally Gothic castle, the neo-Gothic castle Hluboká nad Vltavou and Karlštejn Castle, which was rebuilt in the 19th century.
The 20th century
We end our journey through the history of Czech architecture in the 20th century, which can be characterised as a century looking for a completely new architectural style in keeping with the increasing pace of life. This led to the decorative art nouveau style, which reached its European peak in Bohemia both as regards quantity and quality. In 1910, Czech architecture was affected by the unique style of cubism, in which objects are represented by geometric forms. The following period of modern architecture removed decorative elements and monumentality and tried to find its style in simplicity. An example of this is the rather dour functionalism, which dates from the period between the world wars. This was replaced after the Second World War by socialist realism. The present period is an era of modern bank buildings, hotels, trade centres, housing complexes, etc.
In preparing this brief survey of Czech architecture, material from the book A Journey into Time was used (Titanic) Photogallery Videogallery