Feature: The Riverfront
The Nové Město riverfront, stretching south from the National Theatre to Vyšehrad, is lined with some of Prague’s grandest 19th- and early-20th-century architecture. It’s a great place for an evening stroll, when the setting sun gilds the facades with a beautiful golden light.
Masarykovo nábřeží (Masaryk Embankment) sports a series of stunning art-nouveau buildings. At No 32 is the Goethe Institute, once the East German embassy. No 26 is a beautiful apartment building with owls perched in the decorative foliage that twines around the door, dogs peeking from the balconies on the 5th floor, and birds perched atop the balustrade.
No 16 is the House of the Hlahol Choir, built in 1906 by Josef Fanta for a patriotic choral society associated with the Czech National Revival. It’s decorated with elaborate musical motifs and topped by a giant mosaic depicting Music – the motto beneath translates as ‘Let the song reach the heart; let the heart reach the homeland’.
At the next bridge is Jirásek Square (Jiráskovo náměstí), dedicated to writer Alois Jirásek (1851–1930), author of Old Czech Legends (studied by all Czech schoolchildren) and an influential figure in the drive towards Czechoslovak independence. His statue is overlooked by the famous Dancing House.
A little further along the riverbank is Rašínovo nábřeží 78, an apartment building designed by the grandfather of the late president Václav Havel – this was where Havel first chose to live (in preference to Prague Castle) after being elected as president in December 1989, surely the world’s least pompous presidential residence.
Two blocks south, sitting on Palackého náměstí, is Stanislav Sucharda’s extraordinary art-nouveau František Palacký Memorial; a swarm of haunted bronze figures (allegories of the writer’s imagination) swirling around a stodgy statue of the 19th-century historian and giant of the Czech National Revival.