The Dancing House in Prague is the most Czech known building of modern architecture. Despite Prague being famous for its beautiful historical centre that is full of stunning monuments and little snaky streets, the modern Dancing House is a popular target for tourists and photographers thanks to its non-traditional architectural design. Being placed on the coast of the Czech longest river Vltava, Dancing House represents the movement of deconstructivism in the post-communist era in the Czech Republic.
History of Dancing House
The history of Dancing House has started during the second world war. There used to be a standard building with flats for people at the place where Dancing House is standing today, but the building was accidentally destroyed by American air bombs during the war.
The place had been left empty for decades while the communist party was in power in Czechoslovakia, although it was decided that there was going to be a new building. It had not happened until the 90s when the last Czechoslovakian and the first Czech president Vaclav Havel, living next to the place, put things into a move together with his neighbour Vlado Milunic.
The House was designed in 1992 and was finished in 1996. Thus, seven years after the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia and four years after Czechoslovakia split into two countries.
The architect and the architectural importance of the house
There were many plans and ideas on how to build the new building. Since the beginning, the plans were brave, original and different from anything built in Prague before.
The architect of the building is a Czech with Croatian origin Vlado Milunic and Frank Gehry. Milunic wanted a specific deconstructed shape, resembling leaning or moving of the building to metaphorically illustrate moving of the Czech nation from its communist past. Nowadays, Dancing House is a symbol of the arrival of democracy and freedom in the 90s.
Deconstructivism is a movement of postmodern architecture, and it draws on the fragmentation of building. The buildings featuring deconstructivism lack symmetry, harmony or continuity and their surface is usually deformed, as seen at Dancing House.
The whole project of Dancing House was followed by controversy. Many people claimed that non-traditionally designed building would unfit to the rest of the city that consists mainly of Art Nouveau, Gothic and Baroque monuments and buildings. The controversy was also a reason why the project was changed many times and ended up less ambitious than the first draft aimed for. Later, Milunic stated that he was sorry the initial draft was not fulfilled. Based on the original ideas, the tower would have been taller and more beautiful. The current design of the tower was made as ‘a solution to deal with a difficult situation’, according to Mulic.
Inside of Dancing House
The House functions as offices and conference centre. It also has a gallery where different exhibitions take place and restaurant that can be visited by tourists. The most exciting place inside the building is its sightseeing terrace on top of it that offers a beautiful panorama of Prague.
The building is open every day from 10 AM to 10 PM. The terrace with its stunning view is accessible via the Glass Bar.
How to get to the dancing house
Dancing House is in the centre of Prague; therefore, transport is straightforward and accessible.
Tramlines 17, 5 and buses 118, 191, 125 and many more stop nearby, depending on from where you are going.
The “Jiraskovo náměstí” tram station is right next to the building.