Church of the Name of the Virgin, Křtiny


Legend has it that the ninth-century saints Cyril and Methodius baptized their first Moravian disciples in this wooded valley a few miles northeast of Brno (about 150 miles southeast of Prague). The village of Křtiny ('Christenings') later became an important pilgrimage site, marked by the presence of a famous gothic statue of the Virgin. By the 17th century, up to 50,000 pilgrims a year were making their spiritual journey here.


In 1718, the noted Prague-born architect Jan Blazej Santini-Aichl was commissioned by the Premonstratensian order to design a great pilgrimage church replacing two earlier structures. Born ten years after the death of the revolutionary Roman architect Francesco Borromini, Santini was much influenced by this master of the Baroque, especially by his organic geometry and numerological ground-plans. The churches here at Křtiny and the nearby Zelená Hora are exquisite examples of the later architect's debt to his Swiss-Italian forebear.

The airy interior of the main church at Křtiny, completed in 1750, provides natural lighting for the impressive ceiling frescoes on the theme of Mary, Queen of all Saints, by the Brno-born Jan Jiří Etgens (1691-1757). Keep clicking the image below for full detail:



Na Poříčí 1046/24: Bank of the Legions


The Bank of the Legions (Legionářská banka, or Legiobanka) was founded in 1919 in the Siberian city of Irkutsk as a depository for the savings of Czechoslovak soldiers returning from the First World War. As a sign of the great regard in which these heroes were held - many thousands of them journeyed half way round the world to get back home - a new building was erected between 1921 and 1923 in Prague, designed by one of the leading architects of the day, Josef Gočár.


Already well known for his House of the Black Madonna (1911), Gočár chose to develop the five-bayed  structure in the prevalent rondo-cubist style, its weighty arcs and cylindrical pilasters contributing to a dynamic, monumental frontage. The strong verticals of the facade are supported by a vast horizontal frieze by Otto Guttfreund, depicting the heroes' return; and four massy reliefs by the sculptor Jan Štursa commemorating the various battles of the Legionnaires. A blend of red and white stone was selected to echo the national colours of the fledgling Czechoslovakia.


Battles of Piave (16 June 1918) and Doss Alto (21 September 1918) - relief by Jan Štursa


Battle of Zborov (1-2 July 1917) - relief by Jan Štursa


On the Trans-Siberian railway - relief by Jan Štursa


Battles of Vouziers and Terron (October 1918) - relief by Jan Štursa

Vlašská 347/19: Lobkowicz Palace


Originally a single-storey construction, this magnificent three-winged palace was built between 1703 and 1706 by the architect Giovanni Battista Alliprandi for Count Karel Přehořovský of Kvasejovice, Master of the Royal Mint. In 1753, it was acquired by the Lobkowicz family; and following a severe fire in 1768, a second storey was added by Ignác Jan Palliardi.

Viewed from the south, the architectural result is striking and dynamic, with the two side wings flying out from a central rotunda and balcony, very much in the spirit of the high baroque.

Celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of the events of 1989

Following its sale to Czechoslovakia in 1927, the palace served a number of state functions until 1974, when it became the embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany (the Bundesrepublik Deutschland, often referred to as West Germany).

In May 1989, Hungary opened its border with Austria, the first official breach in the 'Iron Curtain' which had separated the Soviet bloc from the rest of Europe since the end of the Second World War. Taking this as their cue, thousands of East Germans travelled to Prague that August and sought refuge in the Embassy gardens, demanding free passage to the West. On 30 September, the German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher stood on the balcony of the palace to deliver their wish, to rapturous cheers. It was an act that defined the end of communism, and set Germany on the path to reunification.

Náměstí Winstona Churchilla


In 1999, this statue of the British statesman and wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill was unveiled by Margaret Thatcher in the square in Prague that has borne his name since the Velvet Revolution. Hunched and broad-shouldered, it captures all the brooding power of the man whose command of military affairs played such a major role in saving this part of Europe from Nazism. The work is perhaps more familiar to British visitors as an exact copy of the original 1976 statue by Ivor Roberts-Jones in London's Parliament Square.

The square itself was first conceived in 1934 as the home of the Institute of Pensions, the building which today (as Trade Union House) still dominates its eastern side. Constructed on the site of a former gasworks, this functionalist block was considered one of the most cutting-edge buildings of its time, its reinforced concrete core lightened by the use of exterior white ceramic tiling, and the interior fitted out with the latest technologies including air-conditioning. It is particularly noteworthy that the architects Karel Honzík and Josef Havlíček - both members of the avant-garde 'Devětsil' group - were both in their early thirties at the time.

Podolské nábřeží 15/10: Podolí Waterworks


The exponential growth of Prague in the second half of the nineteenth century placed particular pressure on the city's fresh water supply. Ancient water towers and drinking fountains were no longer good enough, and in 1882 a pumping station was established in Podolí, on the right bank of the river Vltava, to supply clean drinking water to districts on higher ground such as Royal Vinohrady.

But even when supplemented with water from the reservoir at Káraný - near the confluence of the rivers Jizera and Labe (Elbe) - the supply proved insufficient for the needs of a city whose population had more than tripled in the first quarter of the twentieth century. A new waterworks was needed.

And so it was that between 1925 and 1929, the original Podolí pumping station was gradually replaced with this colossal art deco temple designed by architects Antonín Engel and Maximilian Koschin, advised by technicians František Klokner and Bedřich Hacara. It was extended in the 1950s with the addition of another wing using the original neo-classical designs.


The plant, which today still houses, cleans and filters the reserve supply for the City of Prague, is a true monument to industrial and engineering prowess. It is also a grand artistic achievement. The facade of the central 150-foot-high tower is adorned with eleven statues representing respectively the left and right tributaries of the Vltava, sculpted by Joza Novák, Josef Fojtík and Zdeněk Vodička.

To the left of the Vltava: the Vydra, the Otava, the Blanice in Šumava, the Malše, the Berounka
To the right: the Sázava, the Blanice in Vlašim, the Želivka, the Lužnice and the Nežárka.

Václavské náměstí: Statue of Saint Wenceslas


Prince Václav I - known to the English-speaking world as 'Good King Wenceslas' - was one of Bohemia's first Christian rulers. On 28 September in the year 929 (some say 935) he was murdered by his brother Boleslav the Cruel while attending a church service just outside Prague. Almost immediately there grew up a cult which remains to this day one of the strongest aspects of Czech national identity.

In 1879, the sculptor Josef Václav Myslbek began work on a memorial to the saint at the upper (south-east) end of the 500-year-old Horse Market, recently renamed 'Saint Wenceslas Square'. Replacing a much earlier Wenceslas, Myslbek's version was first unveiled in 1913, but not completed until 1924, two years after the sculptor's death.


The monument is impressive in both scale and concept. At each corner of a black granite pedestal stand representative saints of Bohemia: Wenceslas's grandmother Ludmila (pictured below), Saint Agnes, Saint Procopius and Saint Vojtech. Towering above them, a mounted Wenceslas surveys his capital from on high, his left hand loosely holding the reins, his right gripping a slender lance. Myslbek worked on the monument for 35 years, modelling the horse on the army stallion Ardo, and the face of Saint Procopius on his own.

Around the pedestal the inscription - from the twelfth century Saint Wenceslas Chorale - reads 'Svatý Václave, vévodo české země, nedej zahynouti nám, ni budoucím' -  'Saint Wenceslas, Duke of the Czech lands, let not us, nor our descendants, perish'. In front of this monument, on 28 October 1918, the new nation of Czechoslovakia was formally declared.

Praha hlavní nádraží: Sir Nicholas Winton


Nicholas Winton's humanitarian work in saving hundreds of Jewish children from the grim certainty of the Holocaust came to light only in 1988. But in the years since, thanks to the efforts of the Slovak film maker Matej Mináč and others, his story has become the stuff of legend.

This unassuming man, born in London of German Jewish parents, famously cut short a skiing holiday to set up an office in the Grand Hotel Evropa from where he arranged the transportation of 669 children to England between November 1938 and the outbreak of war. He was able to do so thanks to a law that allowed refugees up to 17 years of age to be sent to Britain on special trains informally known as 'Kindertransport', or 'Children's transport'. Winton's was not the only such effort - 10,000 children from Central Europe made it out successfully - but it has become one of the most celebrated.

On 1 September 2009, the 70th anniversary of the last Kindertransport to leave the city, a steam train specially commissioned by the Czech government recreated the historic journey to London from Prague's main station, Hlavní nádraží. On the same date, this life-size statue of Winton by the Venezuelan sculptress Flor Kent was unveiled on Platform 1. It shows the 30-year old stockbroker accompanied by two rescued children alongside a poignantly iconic suitcase. A similar statue commemorating all Kindertransport children (also by Flor Kent) is to be found at London's Liverpool Street station.

Winton was knighted in 2003. On 19 May 2014, his 105th birthday, it was announced that he would be awarded the highest Czech honour, the Order of the White Lion.