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A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY

Unique Prague

Prague offers an extensive range of architectural styles and design elements. Within just a few square kilometers you can see a Romanesque building adjacent to others built in the Gothic, Renaissance or Art Nouveau styles. There are two reasons for this uniqueness. First, Prague’s history is extremely rich. The first Prague settlement dates all the way back to the Stone Age. This means that Prague masonries have been busy ever since the first distinctive architectural style – Romanesque – came into existence in the 9th century. Another reason for this uniqueness is the fact that Prague was never intentionally bombed during the two World Wars. While other European capitals were under constant bombardment, Prague was able to avoid damage to or destruction of its architectural beauty.

Hotel’s Neighborhood

Hotel Opera is situated within Prague 1, an area which is part of a UNESCO World Heritage historical preserve. The following neighborhoods (or ancient cities) form a part of the Prague 1 historical preserve: Old Town, Josefov, Hradcany (with its Prague Castle), Lesser Town and New Town. Hotel Opera is located in the New Town area of Prague 1

One of the oldest neighborhoods that was preserved is the Petrska neighborhood. Hotel Opera is also situated in this neighborhood (which now lies within New Town). The Pertska neighborhood dates back to the 11th century, and it belongs to one of the oldest and most important Prague settlements. The Church of St. Peter (where the neighborhood got its name from) frames the center of the neighborhood. In the beginning of the 13th century, however, the Petrska neighborhood settlement became less important because of the increasing significance of the Old Town Square, where most of the hustle and bustle of city life started to occur. During the reign of Charles IV (1355-1378) the Petrska neighborhood was attached to the New Town neighborhood. Until now, however, it has retained its own identity and a specific atmosphere that is somewhat different than the rest of the New Town area.

While the St. Peter’s Church frames the heart of the neighborhood, Pertska Street is its central artery. This street connects a wide variety of architecturally-interesting buildings ranging from Gothic to the First Republic architecture (the First Republic was the period from when a democratic Czechoslovakia was established in 1918 until the beginning of World War II in 1938.). The variety of buildings in terms of age, height, width and architectural details makes identifiable the atmosphere of this lively, but still mysterious neighborhood once known as Petrska.

Hotel Opera

Hotel Opera has a rich history. Together with house number 1744 and 1745 it occupies a full city block that is bordered by Petrska Street, Putova Street, Klimentska Street and Těšnov Street. These streets and the foundations of their houses parallel the town wall of Bastion XXI, which was the last Prague baroque town wall. In 1891, in the exact place of this town wall a builder Josef Hercik built a seven-story building based on a blueprint made by the architect, Karel Janda. The east side of the building is decorated with a stucco of a young girl with an anchor and God Amor with a horn of plenty. There is a small balcony and a tower in the front of the building.

Right before the independence of Czechoslovakia in 1918, Karel Ceska bought the building. The first floor of the building was a restaurant and there was a small hotel on the second floor, called Hotel Hasek. Before Karel Ceska bought the hotel, he was managing a coffee house called “Opera.” As soon as he bought the Hotel Hasek, Karel changed its name to Opera. His intentions were to reconstruct the building floor-by-floor and then transform these additional floors into a part of the hotel. His vision began to take shape, and in 1939 the whole building was transformed into a hotel. The most significant change was the Functionally-focused renovation in 1935 (Functionalism is an architectural style that developed during the 20th Century. The central idea behind this style is that the design of a building should be based on its main purpose so that form follows function).

Karel Ceska did not have much time to enjoy his newly prosperous hotel, however. Shortly after seizing power in 1948, the Communist Party nationalized the hotel (the communists seized the hotel without Karel’s consent and without paying him any compensation for it). While under state control, the hotel fell into disrepair due to neglect and mismanagement.

It wasn’t until 1992, after the fall of communism, when the hotel was returned by the government to its rightful owners, the Ceska family. From 1994 until 1997 an extensive reconstruction took place, with great attention paid to preserving the original charm and historical detail of the hotel. From 1999 until 2000 the original stucco façade was renovated and the main hotel entrance was moved to the front of the building (which is where it was located in the original building). Other major renovations took place after the devastating floods of 2002 (see pictures in lobby).

Taken from historical records and literature.