ltava River Walk
July 19, 2002
There are many beautiful buildings along the Vltava waterfront, but in Jan's opinion the Frank Gehry building is not one of them. Here's what she says:
"Most of Prague’s architecture is 19th and early 20th century and is absolutely gorgeous. Fortunately for Prague, the communists weren’t ever rich enough to do much building in the capital other than utilitarian housing blocks mercifully on the edge of town. Recently, however, someone in Prague commissioned a new building by Frank Gehry, which Gerry rather liked and I abhor. What an eyesore! Well, take a look at the photo and judge for yourself."
"Located on the banks of the river Vltava, it is supposed to reflect, in the uneven positioning of the windows, the movement of the water. Forgive me for repeating myself, but I think it is awful and does not at all complement the other buildings of this gracious old city. To add insult to injury, it also takes up so much space on the sidewalk with those horrible, ugly, concrete columns. I think that someone should pass a law banning unadorned concrete in public buildings. Paint it, stucco it, tile it, but please don’t leave it bare. It would have been better to build it in a modern suburb as a relief and contrast to all of those ugly sixties buildings that abound in such places, but not here amongst all this beauty."
If you do walk along the river bank you'll also pass the Czech National Theater. The ornate building was constructed between 1868 and 1881, primarily with funds from private citizens. Shortly after the first performance in the theater, a fire destroyed much of the building. After the fire, however, Czechs demonstrated support for a national theater once again, raising sufficient funds to rebuild the theater within two years.
Czech composer Bedrich Smetana’s Libuse, an opera about a legendary Slavic princess, opened the inaugural season in the newly rebuilt theater. The opera, composed for the occasion, concludes with the princess Libuse’s prophecy: "My dear Czech nation will survive!"