Prague’s Rudolpinum

The Rudolphinum
The Rudolphinum

The Rudolphinum is one of Prague’s most elegant Neo-Renaissance buildings.

Like the National Theatre,  the Rudolphinum was constructed in the late 19th century during the resurgence of Czech national pride and culture.

The Rudolphinum was designed by architects Joseph Zitek and Josef and the building was completed in 1884. It was originally intended as art gallery but in 1946 it became the home of the Czech National Orchestra. From 1918 to 1938 and again, briefly, after World War II, it served as the seat of the Czech Parliament.

Today the Rudophinum is most famous for its amazing Dvorak Hall, a music auditorium which, at the least in the Czech view, boasts the most perfect acoustics in the world. According to the stories the acoustics are so sensitive, that even a coat of paint on the wall of the great hall can alter the sound. The music halls of the Rudolphinum host Prague’s famous Spring and Autumn Music Festivals.

But the Rudophinum has not been completely colonized by the performing arts, part of it remains true to its original purpose and is home to the splendid Gallery of Modern Art. .

Although it was named for the 19th century royal, Crown Prince Rudolph, the 16th century Emperor Rudolph is remembered in the stone lions which crouch at its entrance. To read the Emperor  Rudolph’s  story, visit  A History of Prague, Part 5, The Habsburgh Dynasty


Two Prague Towers

Mediaeval, Gothic, Romanesque, Renaissance and Baroque, Prague’s towers are as much a part of its magic as its castle, its bridges, its squares and its beautiful buildings. They perch on bridges, rise from rooftops or from ramparts and loom on corners, at junctions or the end of streets. They all have their own special style, charm and story. But still, there are two that stand as it were, above the rest.

The Powder Tower, Prasna Brana

Known for centuries as the New Tower, the tall dark tower that marks the end of Prague’s Celetna Street was originally one of the 13 entrances to the Old Town. It was modelled on Peter Parler’s 14th century Old Town Bridge Tower and was designed to form part of the grand landscape surrounding the royal residence of King Vladimir Jagellon.

Prague's Powder Tower
Prague’s Powder Tower

Work began on the tower in 1475 but when King Vladimir moved his court across the Vltava to Prague Palace, it was left unfinished. The building was used in the 17th century as a storage tower for gunpowder, hence its present name – the Powder Tower.

Construction did not resume on the tower until 1875, when it was redesigned and rebuilt by Josef Mocker. It was finally completed in 1886.

Today, the Powder stands at 69.5 metres. It peers over the shoulders of the buildings lining the Old Town Square and dominates the skyline beyond. It houses a fascinating exhibition on the building’s history and architecture and is open to visitors between 10.00 and 18.00 daily, from April to October.

The Jindrisska Tower, Jindrisska vez

The Jindrisska Tower  sits in the middle of Prague’s busy Jindrisska Street. Since the 14th century this thoroughfare, which gives the tower its name, has linked three of the city’s main points – Charles Square, Wenceslas Square and Senovazne Square.

The imposing 67.5 metre Gothic Tower was completed in 1475. Its first bell, a 500kg belle named Maria, was installed in 1518. In 1577 the clock tower was added. During the Hundred Years’ War, in 1648, the tower was damaged by the invading Swedish Army. Still it survived to receive its second bell, a 3,350kg monster named Jindrich. In 1801 a fierce storm broke the Gothic spire but mercifully left the rest of the tower untouched. In 1850, the third and final bell, 1,000kg Dominic was added

Today Jindrisska Tower is open to visitors who can take the panoramic view from its summit, or study its history and architecture in the exhibition hall. In 2003, the Jindrisska Tower restaurant opened. Lined with timber from the original belfry, it also displays the first bell, Maria in pride of place. Every day at 9.00a.m., 12p.m, 3.00p.m and 6.00p.m passers-by in the surrounding streets, can enjoy one of the belfry’s repertoire of 1,000 peals every day at 9.00a.m, 12.00p.m, 3.00p.m and 6.00p.m.