Open House Praha exposes Prague's architectural gems

Some 65 buildings from all eras and styles will be open to public

The Open House Praha festival this year will see 65 buildings open to the public on May 19 and 20. The buildings include new examples of modern office architecture, 20th-century landmarks and historical palaces. Twenty-four buildings are new to the program this year.

Some will only have guided tours while others will allow for free exploring. Some will also only be open for limited hours or only one of the two days, so it best to check online in advance.

Online registration is required for a tour of the technological facilities in the Main Point Karlín building, which is only allowed to visitors over 15 years of age.

A problem in the past for tourists and some expats was limited availability of English tours.

This year a team of English-speaking volunteers will provide guided tours at following buildings: Clam-Gallace Palace, Drn, Praha-Bubny Railway Station and Prague Creative Center.

In other buildings, it is up to the staff to decide if they can offer help in English, as the amount of visitors might make it impractical or they might lack the skills.

“Most of our volunteers are very willing to help. In any case, basic information in English is provided on the web page of the festival. The aim of the festival is to open opportunity for you to visit usually inaccessible buildings, so do not hesitate to come, even if you do not speak Czech,” the organizers state on the website.

This year is also the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Czechoslovakia. There us a thematic circuit of 20 buildings from the First Republic.

“We will show you a wide and diverse range of architectural styles and movements that were used between 1918 and 1938. The circuit includes buildings that were constructed in the era as well as those that have undergone a significant reconstruction,” the organizers state.

“You will find the historicizing styles as well as later Purism, Functionalism, or the significant National, so-called ‘Arc’ Style. Aside from the diversity of styles, we also introduce a typological diversity, which includes First Republic school buildings, sports buildings, bank buildings, and buildings of cultural, representative, residential, or originally industrial character,” the organizers add.

There are other suggested circuits of buildings including old buildings now adapted for art and culture, and a trail that goes from Romanesque to modern times.

This year it will be possible to visit a newly renovated apartment building by the architect Kamil Roškot, a completely new development in the form of the Drn palace in Národní třída, the modern office building Greenline, the Brussels pavilion Expo 58 or original Zátka soda factory, now the headquarters of the advertising agency.

“From historic buildings, visitors should not miss Clam-Gallasův palác or neo-Renaissance Schebkův palác. From the buildings of the 20th century, Kramářova vila, Hotel International Prague in the style of socialist realism, or the distinctive CETIN building from the 1970s are worth mentioning,” festival director Andrea Šenkyříková said.

The festival website lets people filter by city district, day, building function, whether photography is allowed and barrier-free accessibility. Two locations do not allow photography and nine have some limitations on it.

There are also learning materials for children in some places and lectures or programs for adults.

Two information centers are already open to distribute materials: CAMP at Vyšehradská 51 in Prague 2 and Pražské kreativní centrum at Malé náměstí 9 in Prague 1.

The first Open House Praha was held in 2014, and the event is aimed at popularizing the concept of architecture.

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