Blog

Prague architecture-the top 5 buildings

5 buildings which represent Prague architecture at its best

One of the main reasons Prague looks very special is thanks to its diverse architecture. In large part it is because it was (unlike the other European capitals) never systematically bombarded. Now all those spectacular buildings constructed in different styles create a unique romantic atmosphere in the city. That is why Prague architecture is just the best!

Here we offer you 5  buildings not to miss out when visiting Prague

Dancing House

Important part of modern Prague architecture Dancing house
Close look at the Dancing house

Why it is so special:

  • The building is constructed in the style of deconstruction.It is literally an icon of Prague architecture. It is the symbol of the Prague post-revolution era.
  • you don’t need to have an artistic eye or university degree to figure out that this is an interesting piece of architecture.
  • In 1997, the Dancing House won the highest award in the category of design in the prestigious survey of the American magazine Time
  • In the survey of the magazine Architekt, it was among the five most important Czech buildings of the 1990s.
  • The Czech National Bank chose the Dancing House as an example of the contemporary building for one of 10 coins and it published it within the cycle Ten Centuries of Architecture
 Its name is Ginger and Fred
  • It is because of the shape of its two corner towers. They are inspired by the famous inter-war dance couple Fred Astar and Ginger Rogers. The tower floats in a graceful dance overlooking the river. It adds a romantic touch to the building and to the whole riverbank. And honestly… who does not sometimes enjoy a little bit of romance?
  • At the top of the tower which symbolize Fred is a dome with a construction made out of stainless steel mesh – head of jellyfish.
  • It was built as the first Prague post-revolutionary building by the famous Canadian architect – Frank O. Gehry. It was the author of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao or the Walt Disney concert hall in LA. He design the building in cooperation with the great Croatian architect Vlado Milunic.
    The building itself has been controversial
  • from the very beginning. Its construction started a passionate public discussion about Prague architecture. Its fans appreciate the house as a modern piece that is generally missing in Prague. But the opponents argue that the building’s style does not fit into its surroundings and disturbs the city skyline.
  • In the interior there are some offices, art gallery, 21 room hotel, restaurant, quite expensive and cold looking bar and a terrace with a view to die for.
  • Seriously, if you have thought that looking at the building from the outside is enough and that the dancing couple is all it can offer you, then we have to stop you right here and invite you to visit its terrace with a panoramic view of the Prague Castle. It is really worth it.

 Little bit of history:

  • There was an apartment house on the site. It was destroyed in 1945 by an American bomb attack in the air bombing of Prague. Because of poor visibility, American airman, thinking they are attacking Dresden, dropped the bomb here.
  • As a result a lot of random circumstances led to the creation of this beautiful piece of Prague architecture.
  •  In 1986 one of the main architects, Vlado Milunic, was responsible for the reconstruction of Vaclav Havel’s apartment. It was located in the immediate vicinity of a vacant land. Havel was considered the enemy of the State number 1 by the socialist regime. The whole reconstruction of his apartment was under the close supervision of the secret police.
  • That time Havel and Milunic had an innocent little conversation. They spoke about how beautiful would it be to be able to use a vacant plot of land in the neighborhood for building a house dedicated to culture and art.
  • Later on, after the Velvet Revolution in 1989, Havel became a president of the new free Czechoslovakia. This idea finally got its shape.
  • Mihulic wanted the building to reflect the spirit of post-revolutionary times. To literally dance over the end of totalitarianism. Already in his first drafts, he placed the static tower at the back and the dynamic one in the front. It should reflect the state of the Czecho-Slovak society, moving away from totalitarian rigidity.
  • To the Mihulic’ s question if he would like to join the project Frank o Gehry responded that he would do anything for country that gave America the famous hockey player Jaromir Jágr.
  • In 1992 the Dutch Nationale Nederlanden purcharsed the land and on September 3, 1994, the first stone of the new building was laid.

Few tips:

– To get to the balcony with a beautiful view, you have 2 options:

1) Visit the gallery and pay the entrance of 190 CZK ( more information about ticket types and opening hours here)

2) Have a dinner at the restaurant or just a drink at Glass bar – the cheapest item on their menu is Café Espresso for 59 CZK / 2 EUR

  • When in the area, check out also San Cyril and Methodius church just  around the corner. It is the sadly famous memorial of young heroes Gabčík and Kubiš who lost their lives involved in the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich. You can get to know the whole story by watching this movie.

                                                                  

                                                           House of the black Madonna

The first cubist house in Prague
House of Black Madonna located in the very center of the city surrounded by crowds of people.

 

Why it is so special:

-it  is the first cubist house ever made in Bohemia. Its style completely doesn’t match to its surroundings. At the time of its construction, the building was just as controversial as the Dancing House decades later.

The building’s name comes from the Baroque statue of the Black Madonna. It is set on its corner.

– legends say that if there is a statue, picture or any other depiction of the Black Madonna on the exterior of the building, it means that there are some underground passages in those places.

In this case it turned out to be true. Under the house of Black Madonna we can find one of many Prague’s historical underground trails. It ends in a cellar of an old house near the Tyn Church.

-Popular tours of the Prague’s underground stopped operating at the end of November 2015, in response to the terrorist attacks in Paris.

-Inside of this interesting piece of Prague architecture we can currently find stable exhibition of the Czech Cubism. It ispresented by museum of Decorative Arts and the restaurant Černá madona.

-According to esoterics and mystics this place is also a very special Prague’s energy crossing. Definitely good to hang out.

  Little bit of history:

  • the house as we see it today stands on the site of the original baroque house of the Knights of Granov. The sculpture of the Black Madonna is from the 17th century. It gave the building its name. It was transferred from the original building and incorporated into the northeast corner.

Building’s Origins:

  • the first Prague cubist building from 1912. Famous Czech architect Josef Gočár designed it when he was only 31-year-old. He made it for the builder Josef Herbst as a department store. Herbst trusted his architect so much that he gave him absolute freedom in choosing a design
  • Gočár developed characteristic cubist frames on the entrance portal, roof gutters, forged entrance grilles and stair railing. Interesting was an illusive painting with a geometric pattern. He also designed the interior of the cafeteria with its bar and furniture. (Grand Café Orient was closed after only ten years because the style of this Prague architecture wasn’t popular anymore)
  • the Prague City Council recommended to redesign the project because it didn’t fit into the existing building panorama. Today’s appearance of the house is based on the second- even more cubist- Gočár’s design modification. Revolutionary was also reinforced concrete construction. It allowed Gočár to open spaces without needing to use columns and at the same time to use large windows.
Little statue of Black Madonna on the exterior of the house
Black Madonna is a symbol. A sign of many underground passages crossing under the house
1920-1950
  • The original café disappeared in the 1920s – supposedly for unpopularity of Cubist Prague architecture style.The building filled itself with offices. This trend continued even later and completed itself in the 1950s when  Exhibition company got to use the entire house.
1990
  • house served as a guarantee for the coverage of a 300 million dollar loan for the launch of a new lottery game. It was called Czech Lotynka  and was run by the Ministry of Culture.
  • When the lottery project failed the State fund of culture quickly took a loan from the bank.
 Pragner’s reconstruction in 1993
  • The building served as a department store only until 1922.
  • Architekt Karel Prager reconstructed the devastated house at the beginning of the 90s. He tried to bring it back to its original condition. On the fourth floor he created a terrace with a beautiful view of the surrounding roofs.
18 October 1994
  • only a few years after the revolution president Vaclav Havel officially inaugurated the house as a property of Czech Museum of Fine Arts. In part of the building there was a permanent exhibition of Czech Cubism.
  • The museum was closed in 2002, but the exhibition of Czech Cubism was restored in 2003 and we can still find it there till now.
In the year 2000
  • A poly chrome cut copy of the original black Madonna statue was set into the corner of the house.
In 2005
  •  the Cafe Grand Café Orient reopened on the first floor.
In 2010
  • the house was included in the list of national cultural monuments.
  • Since 2015 Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague the house has a custody over the house. It has renewed the exhibition of Cubism and organizes different short-term exhibitions.

Czech Kubism:

  • Czech cubism developed itself in a very unique way and in a very short period of time (1911 to 1914).
  • In the period before the First World War, Prague was an important center of avant-garde. Czech artists promoted a new style universally called “new art”.
  • In the world Cubism manifested itself mainly in painting or sculpture and marginally in architecture. But the Czech environment created a completely new style. Architects such as Gočár, Janák, Hofman or Chochol have designed buildings and furniture. They did it first for themselves and later for their friends.
  • Small items such as vases, tea and coffee services, ashtrays or glass have also made it into small-scale production.

 

                                                                               Vila Muller

Why it is so special:

Villa Mullerin the dark autum afternoon
Looks like a normal house- noone would ever guess how luxurious this villa really is from the inside.
  • we consider it the top of the world’s architectural avant-garde
  • It was made by internationally famous architect Adolf Loos. Thanks to open minded friendly attitude of the owners he could fully utilize his 40 years of experience in the architectural field.
  • Villa Muller became, by Loos’s own words, his best and the most favourite artwork- Important piece of Prague architecture
  • The building is a surprising mix of functionalistic and classic British architecture.
  • In its creation Loos presented his own very unique understanding of living space as a complex not clearly divided into separate floors.
  • Raumplan
  • Each room in the house has a different high according to its function. For example in the dining room we are usually sitting so there is no need for the high ceiling.
  • All the rooms- although they have different sizes and highs of the ceiling follow one after other. They do it in the way that the person passing through doesn’t even realize that he is crossing into different floors.
  • Many criticized villa for its plain appearance from the outside. Loos was the big enemy of the ornamentalism and unnecessary decorations.  According to his own words he created the house for people living in it and not for the by passers. The contrast of plain uninteresting exterior with the beautiful luxurious interior is astounding.
  • Unfortunately, many doubted the functionality of the house . For example when someone parked a car in the garage, you could smell the gas in the entire building. Also the owner of the house Frantisek Muller suffocated in the boiler room in 1951.

Little bit of History

Villa Muller with its beautiful garden
Villa Muller from down the hill
  • František Muller was a rich Czech man who, together with his cousin, inherited the building company Kapsa and Muller. He decided to move together with his family to Prague from his home town Pilsner.
  • He bought one of the last available parcels and commissioned an architect Lhotka with the realization of the project. But when Lhotka’s final design wasn’t up to his expectations he approached Adolf Loos. At the time Loos wasn’t even a licenced architect yet. He let the two architects work in a cooperation. Loos was more of a visionary person. He had brilliant ideas but he always needed a second person to help him with realization of the project.
  • In 1928 the first stone of the villa was laid.
  • Thankfully Loos didn’t care much about the building rules for Prague architecture of the time otherwise his villa would never have a chance to be constructed. It was one floor higher than was permitted and had many other issues. The battle with the building permission office took over 7 months. It was won partly thanks to media publicity.
  • Loos made a smart move of inviting press and telling them his side of the story. It brought its fruit by countless articles in the newspapers narrating about” Prague impeding the growth of a famous architect.”
  • In 1930 Muller family moved to the finished villa.
  • There were many famous visitors in this fascinating piece of Prague architecture. For example French or British ambassador or rector of Paris University.
  • However beautiful Muller villa was, the destiny of its residents wasn’t lucky at all.
  • The mother of Miss Milada Mullerova- Anna Krátká (living in the house from 1935) died in 1941. She was killed by tram passing in front of the house.

    We are trying to look behind the gate of Villa Muller
    Villa Muller from different angle. We can see the terrace with a “look like” window.
  • František Muller suffocated in the boiler room.
  • The daughter Eva emigrated.
  • In my opinion the worst must have been the end for miss Milada Mullerová. She was the only one left from the whole family. As socialist regime didn’t allow personal property ownership.The state took over her house and left her with the permission to live only in 2 small rooms. From her miniature little living place she had to witness the absolute downfall of the house.
  • Different communist institutions resided in the building. For the rest of her life Milada was fighting for preservation and protection of the artworks and furniture in the house. Until she still could she gave the most of it to her friends as a present or she sold it. Thanks to that it was possible to recuperate the most of articles back after the revolution in a good state.
  • After the revolution in 1995 City of Prague museum bought the villa from Milada ’s daughter Eva and completely reconstructed it.
  • Since 1995 it is a national cultural monument. Prague is trying to enter it to the UNESCO list
  • From 2000 it is opened to the public.

 

                                                           Saint Agnes monastery

Church with monastery buildings
Convent of Saint Agnes

Why it is so special:

  • The first Prague’s building made in Gothic style – at the time of its construction, builders didn’t use the Gothic in such large structures. That is why it became one of the very unique Prague architecture Gothic complexes.
  • it is a group of buildings made in times of great dispositional attempts in construction field. The building regulations of the Franciscan architecture were not clearly stated yet.
  • The princess Agnes from the Premyslid dynasty founded the complex in 1231. This dynasty was the last one purely Czech so it has a special place in the history of the country.
  • As it was a member of royal family who founded the monastery, thanks to her money and influences it quickly became the biggest spiritual centre of that time.
  • From the early childhood Agnes was living in various different monasteries. She was familiar with the convenient practical aspects of buildings layout. Her brother Václav I. donated to the monastery land on the right bank of the Vltava river. It was a convenient location especially for the hospital. He granted it all privileges and freedoms.
  • This monastery was not only the first cluster of Clarisses and Friars Minor in the area. It was also built as an ancestral burial site of the Přemyslids. Several members of that famous dynasty are buried in Saint Salvator church. We can access it by an arcade from the Chapel of Our Lady decorated with preserved portraits of crowned kings and queens.

 Saint Agnes

Little statue of Saint Agnes in the doorframe of the monastery gate
Statue of Saint Agnes
  • Very special person in the Czech history. Main character of countless legends.
  • Youngest daughter of Czech king Přemysl Otakar I. For her mother Konstancia Uherská he left his previous wife after 20 years of marriage.
  • Agnes became a part of the marriage politics of her father. He engaged her for 3 times in total but none of her compromises led to the marriage.
  • After her father’s death she used the unexpected freedom and proclaimed her desire to serve God. She entered the most modern religious order of that time- Clarisses.
  • In 1231 she founded the monastery and in 1232, together with her brother Václav, hospital Na Františku.
  • for the rest of her life she cared for the poor, sick, and those who needed help.
  • Until today many Czech people address her their prayers.
  • She died in the age of 71 and was buried in Chapel of the Virgin Mary in the monastery complex. Later, her remains were moved to the unknown location. One famous legend says that in the moment when someone discover the grave of the Saint Agnes it will bring a new happy era for people in the Czech Republic.
  • 1874 Agnes was proclaimed blessed.
  • In November 12, 1989 Pope John Paul II.canonized her

Little bit of history:

Prague architecture treasure- Saint Salvator church
Saint Agnes monastery
1231- Agnes founded the new monastery
1234- The pope canonized the monastery
1237- The Pope granted the monastery significant privileges
1253- Agnes buried her brother Václav I. in the monastery in the Church of Saint Francis
1282- Agnes died and was buried in the chapel of St. Mary
  • After her death the royal family lost its interest in monastery. It is the end of the famous era in its history.
  • 14th Century

    – King Charles IV. respected and protected the monastery. His mother Eliska was also member of Premyslid royal dynasty. We can characterize Charles reign by lively construction activity in Prague ( Charles bridge, New Town, Charles University…)It was a time of bloom for Prague architecture. It brought also an extensive reconstruction of the monastery.

  • Hussite wars

    the monastery served as an armory and a mint. It survived in quite good condition.

Convent of Saint Agnes. Old building
Old building of Saint Agnes Monastery
  • With the arrival of the Habsburgsthe Dominicans
    relocated themselves to the already empty convent of the Clarisses. The monks inhabited the women’s section of the monastery . They sold the second part of the double-cluster and created a new neighbourhood called Na Františku of the male convent.
  • 17th Century– Franciscan returned to the monastery
  • 1782- the monastery was cancelled and sold due to the reforms of Emperor Joseph II. The new owners of the complex converted its buildings into small slums, warehouses and workshops.
  • 1900 to 1918– Unity for the Restoration of the Convent of Blessed Agnes renovated the monastery.
  • From 1939 there is a construction historical exploration going on. Its along with the extensive archaeological research.
  • 1963- National Gallery became the new owner of the place. Restoration of the complex was is in its final stage.
  • 1978- the monastery became a national cultural monument

Currently:

 

  • there is a permanent exhibition of Medieval Art in Bohemia and Central Europe and a tactile exposition of Czech medieval art
  • a new sightseeing circuit is available to the public. It contains stone collection exposure which shows the most precious artefacts found during archeological research, commented route around the monastery  and children’s trail.
Garden of the monastery with its banches and trees. Looks very tranquil.
Garden of the convent is an oasis in the hub of the city.
  • National gallery placed over 20 new statues in the monastery garden- some of them borrowed, some especially constructed for the convent.

– above all during the summer, the convent is now coming to life with Agnes LIVE! Project.

Every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, visitors can experience a varied program that includes thematic tours of the monastery complex with non-traditional guides. Walks around the monastery focused on history and Prague architecture…The monastery hosts   number of musical performances, slam poetry or other literary events. On Thursday its garden changes regularly in the summer cinema.

                                       Church of the sacred Heart

Church of the sacred Heart which is the main dominant of the square Jiriho z Podebrad
Church made in 1932 using a brick wall technique.

 

Why it is so special:

  • The church is the most significant Czech sacral building of the 20th century.
  • a unique example of interwar Czech and especially Prague architecture.
  • well-known Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik designed it.
  • built between 1928 and 1932 using a brick wall technique.
  • the main reason for its building was insufficient capacity of the church of St. Ludmila located on the Peace Square
  • the Noah’s Ark inspired its stucture. It contains details of the royal symbolism (for example, a facade with stones that reminds of a royal ermine or the dome at the top of the tower depicts a royal apple…)
  • it has a wide main tower with a large round clock that reaches a height of 42 meters.
  • The clock has a diameter of almost 7.5 meters. It is the largest clock in the Czech Republic.Now it shows the time again.
  • During World War II Nazis melted all the six bells from the tower for the production of weapons
  • in 1992 two copies of the bells returned
  • in the interior of the church we can find:
  1. a three-meter gilded figure of Christ in the symbolic heart. He is hanging over the main altar of white marbol.
  2. the gilded wrought-iron door
  3. the statue of six Czech patrons in life-size: Jan Nepomucký, sv. Anežka, sv. Vojtěch, sv. Václav, vol. Ludmila and St. Prokop. Sculptor Damián Pešan designed and made them  out of lime wood.
  • Plečnik himself designed the interior of the church  but after his return to his native town Ljubljana his student Otto Rotmeyer took over his work.
  • In 2010 Ministery of culture included this church among the national cultural monuments. It officially is an important piece of Prague architecture
  • In 2014 its Prague 3 Town Hall, the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and the Republic of Slovenia nominated it for the World Heritage List.

Plečnik

Slovenian architect Josip Plečnik we in the Czech Republic know as the architect of Prague Castle. He carried out the reconstruction of the first and third courtyards of the Prague Castle. He also contributed to adjustment of the southern gardens.

The pupil of Vienna Professor Otto Wagner came to Prague before the First World War and taught architecture. He gain a good name for himself.

After the new Czechoslovak republic was born, president Masaryk has chosen Plečnik to transform the “monarchic castle into a democratic castle”.  He never received any pay for this work or any other projects which he realized for the presidential office. He claimed that the task itself was the greatest Honour he could ever receive.

At Masaryk’s proposal, Plečnik became an official architect of the Prague castle. But at the same time the newly founded University of Ljubljana selected him as the professor of architecture. He had to divide his interest between the two cities.

The architecture designs for the Prague Castle he created mostly in Slovenia. His pupil Otto Rothmayer executed them. Nevertheless, Plečnik never gave up his personal supervision. Every summer he was regularly visiting Prague to inspect implementation of his work.

All those unique buildings are very diverse. They symbolize people’s everyday life in a different eras. That is what makes Prague architecture such a great reflection of the time.

Techno in Prague and places to find it

Electronic music plays very important role in the Czech Republic’s club scene. Techno in Prague is becoming something really big and the same passion for beats is now apparent in Brno, Pardubice and many other Czech towns.

We love techno, drum and base, jungle…

And as we like to look for them when travelling abroad we can imagine that you may like to do the same while visiting the Czech Republic.

We decided to create a little guide focusing on techno in Prague. We start by describing its development in the world and here in the Czech republic and end by adding the coolest current clubs playing techno in Prague.

So what is Techno?

 

Techno is probably the most famous name of the style of electronic dance music, and is often misinterpreted. Techno in Prague is for many people a synonym for electronic dance music at all.

It is hard to answer the question where the techno name actually came from. People got to know it in 1984, when the single Techno City was released. Since then, the title has been occasionally used, for example when talking about subgroup of the house.  The term extended itself widely in 1988 thanks to the compilation Techno! The new dance sound of Detroit. It has included tracks that have become huge hits around the world.

Wrongly as techno many people considere more or less any contemporary music with significantly repetitive elements.

This, apart from the misinterpretation of the term techno, has as a result luck of society’s awareness of how diverse electronic dance music actually is.

Techno in Prague is often confused with the commercial disco music (such as Scooter, DJ Bobo, disco pods) although it has very little in common with them.

 The term techno (and hence the whole electronic dance music) has gained negative signs during its existence.

Why is  techno in Prague ( and the Czech Republic in general) seen as  negative?

The media here in the Czech Republic has connected techno scene to the CzechTeks and other freetekno parties that take up only a fraction of what electronic dance music offers.

The atmosphere of any dance event playing techno in Prague has been outlined  as a crazy drug party, portraying its participants as strange individuals. All that under the name of a techno party.

No wonder the disoriented society has a negative image of techno in Prague and the other Czech cities. But what is really techno, without myths and prejudices?

How does techno sound and what is its main idea?

The term techno was created by the shortening of the word technological. So this music somehow deals with technology and the industrial society through futuristic sounds. The main idea of ​​techno was to reconcile man and machine- give the machine a soul. In music, this is not the first time that people and technology meet. This direction has been represented by avant-garde artists since the early 20th century.

It’s the music where background for synthetic sounds is a rhythmic pattern filled with a strictly ostinated beat of a bass drum that strikes at all times in a 4/4 meter. Bass drum blows are most often complemented by hi-hat sound. It fills in rhythmic figurations between the main periods. The typical pace of the classic techno is between 140-160 BPM. The construction of the techno track is very detailed.

Origin of Techno

Techno was born and raised in the mid-1980s in Detroit. It incorporated the influences of Kraftwerk’s German electronic pioneers (combining African-American feelings for rhythm and European approach to harmony and melody), George Clinton’s funk and Gary Numan’s emotion-free music.

The character of the  city of Detroit appeared to have a key role in  the origin of this “technological music”.

It was a city living of automobile industry with many African-American citizens. People there were used to work  in the factory where computers and robots were handled. A young generation grew up with prerequisites for a culture of materialism.

But suddenly the city had overcome a dramatical transformation. It found itself  in a state of total devastation. Automobile factories closed and everyone who could afford it  moved away. Detroit began to face serious social and economic problems.

 In the 1980s, on those ruins, techno emerged as a perfect antithesis of soul music popular until now. A style depicting a de-humanized  man in conjunction with a humanized machine.

Three techno pioneers

Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May and Juan Atkins promoted their music in clubs and radio. In Detroit’s clubs, their music was not very successful. However,  3 DJs have been invited to London several times to enrich the local scene. The invitation first accepted Derrick May with his techno compilation. The new dance sound of Detroit not only infected London clubs but also Europe as a whole. Detroit DJs have become a stars in Europe.

Synthesizers are used in techno

The development of techno is closely connected with development of synthesizers and samplers. In the 1970s Roland77 company started producing drum automats. They came first with CR-68 and CR-78,- the microprocessor vending machines. Then in 1980, the company developed the TR-808 type, but was criticized for the unrealistic drum sound.

However, because of its lower price, it came into use despite its metallic and squeaking sounds.

Later  TR-909 replaced it with a distinctive clapping sound instead of a small drum.  808 and 909 models were the ones which the first techno producers worked with the most.

Types of techno

All styles have undergone a lot of expansion during their time. Techno has spread from Detroit to all of America, Europe and Asia and has found a solid base of listeners and producers.

Its substyles began to be strongly influenced by geographical location. There is no other style in which  the difference between individual “national” offshoots would be so noticeable like in techno

Detroit techno

Detroit techno had two forms. The dark, isolated, mechanical sound color responded to the end of  prosperity of the city in the late 1970s and the subsequent economic collapse. On the contrary, we could find bright, soft sound positions nearing to the Chicago house.

Acid techno

Although the acid sound is not  specific for techno it is particularly popular in hardcore hard acid techno. First, the word acid appeared in the mid-1980s in relation to house. The acid house soon became a phenomenon. From the friendly soft rhythm of the Chicago House, the eccentric sound of acid was transferred to the cold background of harder techno. The result has been and still is celebrated to this day. Although acid techno originated in the early 1990s, it is still popular and lives with its own life at underground events and freetekno party. The acidic, poisonous  sound dominated by the bass line was made exclusively on the Roland TB-303 synthesizer made in 1982. No other instrument could imitate this unique sound. TR-808 and TR-909 served here to create rhythm.

Schranz/Hardtechno

This is a very tough techno branch. Schranz is considered synonymous with hard techno by some, and  distinguished from it by others (it is supposed to be harder and darker hard techno).

Its speed variates in the range of about 140-170 BPM

We can recognize it by its “dirty” sound, given by the high density of variously filtered beats. Most of the keystrokes are distorted by digital effects, and it gives the schranz a dark, shrill colour of sound. As if you rub two rough surfaces, complemented by pure bass beat and high cymbidium cymbals.

The term schranz was created between 1997 and 1999 during the broadcast of the Sonic radio – the only radio in Europe dedicated to electronic dance music.

What is the difference in between Freetekno and Techno?

Tekno differs from techno in just one letter, but it conceals a noticeable difference. Tekno is much faster than techno (harder substyles of  tekno can reach speeds of up to 220 BPM.)

In total, it uses darker sounds, a heavily loaded, dense and centralized strike of a large drum, the classical, unmodulated sound of a small drum, hi-hats and cymbals.

On this rhythmic background, denatured sounds occur. If there is any  human voice in the music, then we can only hear it in short monotone repeating phrases. The percussion shades in the tekno are not aggressively sharp and although the music is very fast and hard, it is not offensive.

Where did Freetekno come from?

Freetekno subculture was formed around 1988, when the second summer of love took place in Britain. It was a time when rave music laid the foundations of a new era of club music and dance music culture.

Rave did not just refer to the music field. It included political attitudes against capitalist individualism.

It did not become the subculture in its own sense as its  fans lacked the uniformity of dressing and the expression of resistance to the society.

Those ideals were followed by the style of hard techno – tekno . In Britain a subculture formed around it  began to organize festivals of an independent techno. Due to frequent crossing of the law, they were prosecuted.

In 1993 the controversy culminated in the adoption of the Criminal Justice Act. It banned the organization of all free parties throughout the United Kingdom. Due to the violent repression, many sound systems, such as the famous Spiral Tribe, have left the country and have spread throughout the world. They began organizing new types of techno parties that were free and alternative. A new free party movement was born.Throughout Europe, new sound systems began to form, and they wanted to hold their own  free parties.

Philosophy  behind freetekno

Young people had the desire to distance themselves from their upbringing in capitalist society. They  were influenced by anarchism, and this way of life – living in a squat, traveling and organizing a party – was literally tailored to them. Already from the beginning, they were given the mark that they did not comply with established behavioral norms. It was mainly because of their open relationship to drugs. 

Sound systems did not deny  use of illegal drugs at the parties, and many of them admitted to have the main financial income from their sales.

In difference to rave culture, the Sound Systems Company has operated on the principle of self-financing. They themselves, according to the slogan of Do It yourself, built the speakers and sound apparatures. And as there was a rule of zero admission to the parties, only money from drug sale could help them to keep running.

After massive waves of arresting and constant persecution, the sound systems were forced  to gradually begin to hold a commercialized party where the entrance fee was charged. The free party phenomenon was over.

But not for long. It expanded further to the east, where the whole process took place from beginning- for example in BulgariaTek (Bulgarian teknival), Slovtek (Slovak teknival), PolTek (Polish teknival)

 

Techno in Prague (and the Czech Republic in general)

Techno Dj playing live on vinyl
Techno in Prague

Although techno in Prague is not  a club mainstream genre, it still attracts a lot of traffic and literally fills up the halls.

Legendary Czech parties and festivals in the past

From all the hall events promoting techno  in the Czech Republic as one of the most special we can consider the Brno’s Apocalypse. It is  the only party taking place since 1999 without a longer pause and attracting thousands of visitors every year.

For thirteen years running it has been bringing to the Czech Republic the biggest stars of techno and hardcore such as Jeff Mills, Kevin Saunderson, Umek, Pet Duo, Rush, Space DJz, etc.

This year on 30.11. 2018  it will be hosting Carl Craig-  one of the most prominent figures of second wave of Detroit techno.

It is a honor for most of Czech techno DJs  to play in the Apocalypse.

However, the Apocalypse was not the first big party here. Since 1997 the original Moravian Hall event Supersonic Garage took place. It was organized by Pavel Tesař. He was already from the beginning of the 1990s, regularly organizing events in cooperation with G-production at the big Mácháč festival.

Another celebrated party in the Brno area was the Citadel which, unfortunately lost a competitive fight with the Apocalypse and in 2005 stopped being runned for a while.

Then the license for its organizing  was purchased by the First Independent Promoter Group and Citadel’s existence has been restored.

In addition to these two legendary parties, the audience in Brno could experience several other events, which over the years have arisen and disappeared.

Techno in Prague has stayed a little behind.

A few large by size but not that famous events were hosted in the Veletržní Palace, Industrial Palace, Abaton or Karlovy Lázne. In addition, there has been countless of small club events promoting techno in Prague.

 In 1996 the Pardubice’s open air party Sunrising started the new tradition of techno / house festivals.

A year later, a small,insignificant event called Summer’97- the ancestor of the Summer of Love immortal festival, took place. Ten years later, more than ten thousand people visited Summer of love. The festival began focusing on house and techno but over time covered the entire electronic dance music style range.

Most of the local dance multi-genre festivals such as Hradhouse, Creamfields Cosmic Trip, Summer Session, etc. were focusing on techno

The first exclusively  techno festival

Svojšice was held in Svojsice near Pardubice in 2000 and it continues running till this day. Although by the time it was enriched by the house and drum and bass stage, it it did not make it less attractive for its visitors.

Other major festivals in the country include Mácháč, which focuses more on trance.

In addition to legally organized parties, there has been occasions when the Czech Republic hosted underground, often illegal, events.

What was Czech tek?

From 1994 to 2006 it presented the world-renowned CzechTek teknival.

In 1994, legendary sound systems Spiral Tribe and Mutoid Waste Company arrived to Bohemia, settling in the Ladronka squad. They expressed local people the magic of the tekno which subsequently resulted in the first CzechTek.

Initially, it was a smaller legal party in former military buildings but with the rapid increase of participants teknival moved to the meadows and continued illegally.

The police intervention and the end of Czech Tek

The most controversial year was 2005, which, according to the organizers, was organized on legally leased land. Yet more than 1,000 police patrols arrived to the party with an aim to stop it by any means- using heavy techniques, tear gas and waterworks.

The incident brought endless discussions on the political field. It signified  an important change for the entire tekno community and largely affected also techno in Prague and the whole Czech Republic.

The next year ‘s party was quietly attended by 40,000 people. However, the CzechTek era ended here as the teknival was closely monitored by media and people who came “just to have a look”did not have anything to do with tekno music- they were here just out of curiosity, destroying the “intimate” atmosphere of the community. It killed the desire of the founders to organize this party for more years.

A few legendary Czech techno DJs

There is a lot of DJ’s producing techno in Czech circles. One of really pioneering names to mention is for example DJ Agent, who has been on the stage since 1995. Now he is not only an active DJ but also a promoter, organizing events throughout the Czech Republic, such as Techno Masters

At the awakening of the Czech scene was also the DJ and promoter Jerry, who had been behind the DJ’s counter since  1993, DJ Pavel Krejdl, performing under the Techno.cz website, or currently less active DJ Kaisersoze.

Another high-quality Czech DJ is Steen, who has been working for last  couple of years together with DJ Spiriakos, producing their sets and promoting them around Europe.

The West Bohemian scene is represented by DJ and producer Drex, Jamal DJs – Jacker and Malda or JayBeck.

A few famous Czech schranz DJ’s

In addition to techno, schrantz has also grown up in recent years thanks to the DJ Golpe, 96 Destroyer- both of whom present their works as a part of  foreign labels and are administrators of Schranz.cz.

Schranz is also represented by Czech DJs Peca (also involved in Schranz.cz) or Kesz.

Well-known in Brno isDJ is B.Unq!, which has become a resident hard techno DJ of the prestigious Ukrainian Kazantip festival.

Famous Czech sound systems

We must not forget the freetekno DJs, who mostly work as a part of sound systems. The well known group is Circus Alien, Technical Support, Mayapur and one of the oldest on our scene. Furthermore, NSK, Metro, Strahov, Oktekk and many others.

The coolest clubs playing electronic music and techno in Prague

 Ankali

Currently considered one of the greatest techno venues. Hosts well known techno names in the authentic underground atmosphere. It’s a place to go when you look for something real with not too many tourists around and truly fantastic music. Our n. 1.

Their program

How to get there from the city center:

By tram: take n. 6 from Namesti Republiky( where is Palladium shopping center) to the tram stop Bohemians

By metro: get from wherever you are to the red metro( C) stop I.P.Pavlova and from there take a tram n. 6 to Bohemians tram stop

By uber: adrese is Lopuchova 6

It’s also worth to check the neigborhood once you are there- it’s the most hipster kind of area in the whole Prague 🙂

Pokojicek

Fantastic multipurpose premises serving to different kind of workshops and electronic music performances. Far from the city center but definitely worth the journey.

 Their program

 How to get there from the city center:

By tram: from the Karlovy lazne tram stop ( which is the nearest one to the Charles bridge on the old town side) take n 17 tram going to the tram stop Belarie

By metro: From the yellow ( B) metro stop Palackeho namesti( where is the dancing building) take a tram n. 17 to Belarie tram stop

By uber: adrese is: Mezi vodami 35

The place is fantastic for finding great techno in Prague but it is in the middle of nowhere so don’t plan any sightseeing in the area

 

Vlkova 26

Great place with fantastic electronic dance music in the middle of vibrant Zizkov neighborhood. Chill friendly atmosphere. Everyone who likes techno in Prague and is cool goes here sometimes:)

Their program

How to get there from the city center:

By tram: Take n. 26 tram from Namesti Republiky( where is Palladium shopping center) to the tram stop Husinecka and climb a little hill. The place is located in the down area of the hill so it isn’t any mega hike

By metro: from Hlavni nadrazi ( main train station)red metro stop cross the park to the tram stop and take n. 26 or 9 to the Husinecka stop

By uber: adrese is: Vlkova 26

Zizkov neighberhood is truely fantastic place to explore. There is more little hidden bars than you can imagine!

Storm

Another excellent electronic music venue which kind of took over from legendary Acropolis club. Much more commercial than the previous three but still worth to see.

Their program

How to get there from the city center:

By bus: from Namesti Republiky( Palladium shopping center) take n. 207 to the bus stop Tachovske namesti

The same bus you can take from the yellow( B) metro stop Florenc

By uber: adrese is: Tachovske namesti 5

Klubovna druhe patro

Great hidden spot in the most central area of the city hosting different DJs every weekend. Of course, due to its location much more crowded by tourists than any previously mentioned clubs but still favorite place of many locals.

Their program

How to get there from the city center:

It’s in the heart of the city so no need of public transport, you can just walk. Its located on Dlouha street ( Koh san road of Prague:)n. 37 on the second floor( from that is the name Druhe patro- means Second floor)

Famu club

New star on a Prague’s club heaven. Place which we used to visit 10 years ago as a little nothing special student cheep hole completely changed becoming a right place to be.

In this club they don’t focus only on the electronic music but also host different live bands. Proper underground hidden in the close proximity to the city center.

Their Program

How to get there:

By tram: take n 17 tram from Staromestska or Karlovy lazne stop to the Narodni divadlo stop

Walking: from the Charles bridge you can just walk 10 min. around the river on the Old town side. It’s a really nice walk with literally postcard views so we highly recommend it

By metro: From the yellow( B) metro stop Narodni trida you can walk 5 min. towards National Theatre. Club Famu is sharing a building with Cafe Slavia.

By uber: The adrese is: Smetanovo nabrezi 2

Mono fono

Nice funky place hosts excellent Djs, concerts and art exhibitions. You can feel spirit of real- non touristy Prague here. The only down site is that they are closing very early on the weekends. Currently at 17:00 in the afternoon! Very strange but check it out maybe it has already changed until you read this.

Their Program

How to get there:

By tram: Take n.6 tram from Namesti Republiky( Palladium) to the tram stop Vodickova and walk for 2 min.

By metro: you can walk from the nearest metro stop which is mustek( the yellow B)- its just a few min. Walk to Jungmanova

By uber: the adrese is Jungmanova 15

Top electronic music clubs in Brno

Here we don’t know that many venues but we can mention at least two fantastic ones.

Kabinet muz

Club open to a big variety of alterntive music and theatre regularilly hosting  local and foreign stars.

Their program

How to get there:

By tram: its very close to Malinovskeho namesti tram stop. From the main square Namesti Svobody you can get there directly by n. 4

By uber: The adrese is Sukova 4

 

Fleda

It would be imperdonable to consider only clubs playing techno in Prague and not to mention this place with its fantastic club nights Electra and Vendeta and Festival of electronic music Echoes. BIG TIME worth of visiting when in Brno.

Their program

How to get there:

By tram: from the tram stop Ceska on Namesti svobody take tram n. 6 directly to the Hrncirska stop

By Uber: The adrese is Stefanikova 24

 

Traveling Prague on a budget?

Tram number 17 is, according to our Prague local guide , a fantastic way of how to get to know Prague from a different perspective. You can use it as your personal hop on hop off vehicle. You will be discovering Prague surrounded by locals .

So finally you arrived here! You bought your ticket ages ago. Our Prague local guide says use it to its maximum! Especially if Prague is supposed to be so beautiful and cheap. Paradise on the Earth! Thailand of Europe! 🙂

But enough of the money issues..

We have all been there. For some strange reason the most fantastic adventures occure always when we are the least prepared. Someone up there is watching his favorite soap opera.!

So you are standing here with your head full of ideas, eager to get deeper into Prague’s life.

Not that pseudo- czech reality show, showed us by “typical 100% Czech authentic” establishments on the square with their white tables and waiters speaking five languages anticipating all your needs (which, by the way, are the only Czech element 500 m2 around –  except the astronomical clock and Tyn church, of course).

But you know all of that. You are a new modern traveler. They can’t fool you.  In your life you were traveling enough to be able to recognize those  globalised super authentic centers of the cities. They look  exactly the same wherever you go.

You are excited to look behind the scene  and you are not afraid to go out and discover.

But, as you are on a budget, you have to discard the idea of hiring any Prague local guide or booking some funky underground pub crawl which would bring you directly into the center of all local happening. (Even our Bohemian Alternative Bar Tours which we are deeply sorry about.)

Even a simple hop on hop off bus seems like a luxurious limousine to you right now!

That’s exactly why we created this little blog as your Prague local guide.

To help you guys find the top places of this incredible city- and not only those most famous. Because we also used to travel (not so much now with the tours operating) and we know how does it feel.

So the first thing we definitely recommend you to try is to escape from the zoo of old town, pass through Kaprova street to Staromestska and take a number 17 tram- any direction- both are fantastic. You can take a picture of the itinerary here:

http://www.tram-bus.cz/mhd-praha/tramvaje/linky-tramvaji/denni/linka-17/

Advantages of it:

– This tram drives through the entire city.

It pasess along the river so you can enjoy incredible views at the Prague castle+ all the bridges- including the famous one- we all know which one 🙂

– It’s very flexible.

You can hop on and off anywhere you wish. We will get you a little guide of stops which are absolutely “the must” in the next article.

– You travel completely like a local surrounded by locals.

You will see how all the fellow tourists will be slowly disappearing a few stops after Staromestska stop- they have no idea of what they are missing!

– The cost – of course 🙂

The 24 hours ticket costs only 110 CZK = something little more  than 4 Euros!

Disadvantages:

The only one I can think of is the killing smell of sweat in the summer.

However cool this country is the invention of deodorants is still to be discovered here.

So buy yourself a menthol drops to put them under the nose or learn a yoga belly breathing and enjoy  Prague like we locals do!