• Arrive Prague Airport. We stay in the centrally located hotel K+K Central with its fine Art Nouveau facade. This evening we have dinner in the Triton Restaurant, a remarkable survival from 1912 whose artificial grotto has alternately served as a cabaret, a theatre and a restaurant.
• In the morning we visit Prague’s Municipal House, one of the most significant Art Nouveau structures in Central Europe. It was opened in 1912 as a centre of social and cultural life of the city, and leading Czech artists and sculptors like Alfons Mucha, Max Švabinský and Josef Václav Myslbek contributed to the decoration. We view the suite of contrasting reception rooms with their monumental paintings and elaborate ornamentation, as well as the Smetana Hall, one of the centres of Prague musical life. We have lunch in the building’s elegant café.
• Though completed in the same year, the House at the Black Madonna represents an altogether more avant-garde vision: an iconic building in the Cubist style, it was the work of 31 year old Josef Gočár. The building now houses the Czech Museum of Cubism, complete with the cubist Grand Café Orient, reconstructed from the original plans.
• A short walk around key architectural monuments in the centre of Prague completes today‘s programme.
• Today we visit the Exhibition Palace, home to the modern art collection of the Czech National Gallery. Constructed in the years 1926 28 as a site for trade fairs, it was at the time the largest edifice of its kind in the world and a prominent example of the functionalist style.
• The collection is of considerable interest, with a significant holding of modern European painting (including works by Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh) purchased by the Czechoslovak state following its foundation in 1918 as well as a representative selection of Czech artists active in the interwar years.
• We have lunch in the museum‘s Café Jedna.• In the afternoon we visit the Villa Müller designed by Adolf Loos, complete with original furnishings. We then take a stroll around Baba colony – a remarkable collection of family houses displaying different interpretations of the functionalistic aesthetic.
• This evening we dine at the Café Imperial, featuring one of Prague‘s most spectacular Art Deco interiors.
• This morning we visit the Eastern Bohemian town of Hradec Králové, whose enterprising city fathers commissioned Josef Gočár to design an entire new district in the early years of the Czechoslovak Republic. A walk around the new town reveals spectacular architecture in this provincial setting.
• This afternoon we continue to Brno, the Czech Republic‘s second city. We stay at the Hotel International, opened in 1962 and an example of the so-called „Brussels“ style.
• Brno was formerly nicknamed „the Czech Manchester“ and the city‘s textile barons vied in commissioning impressive family houses from fashionable architects. We explore three such houses, beginning with the Villa Stiassni, designed by the best-known Brno architect of the 1920s, Ernst Wiesner. The Jewish Stiassni family left Czechoslovakia in 1938 to escape the Nazi threat and after World War II, the building was used to house visiting dignitaries including Fidel Castro.
• Lunch in the functionalist ERA café.
• This afternoon we take in a pair of houses which were closely linked by geography and family history. The Löw-Beer Villa, built in the art nouveau style, was the home of another textile dynasty. When Alfred Löw-Beer‘s daughter Grete married Fritz Tugendhat in 1928, her parents gave divided their plot of land to make space for a new house for the couple, who commissioned German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to design a home for them. The resulting building, known as the Villa Tugendhat, is considered one of his masterworks and has more recently inspired the book and film „The Glass Room“.
• Our tour concludes with dinner in the stylish surroundings of the Pavillon restaurant, a functionalist café from the 1920s.
• Depart Morning check out from the hotel, drive to Prague or Vienna Airport and departure.