A magnificent neo-Renaissance building on the banks of the Vltava River in the heart of Prague, the Rudolfinum has been a sumptuous temple of music and art since its foundation in 1885.
Originally created as a multi-purpose cultural centre, with rooms used for concerts and others for exhibitions, the Rudolfinum has changed function and hosts over the centuries. Today it houses the headquarters of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, an art gallery and an elegant cafeteria.
You can visit this beautiful building and learn more about its history and architecture with a guided tour, but if you want to get your fill of excitement, we recommend attending a classical music concert, perhaps during the prestigious Prague Spring Festival.
One of the most beautiful halls in the complex, the Dvořák Hall, is an internationally renowned, beautifully decorated concert hall. It is dedicated to the conductor Antonín Dvořák, who conducted the first concert open to the public on 4 January 1896.
Curiosity: the roof of the Rudofinum is decorated with statues of famous composers. The statue of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy was removed by the Nazis because the composer was Jewish. This real-life fact inspired the ironic and symbolically rich novel ‘On the Roof is Mendelssohn’ by Jiri Weil.
The Rudolfinum Gallery occupies a number of rooms in the Neo-Renaissance complex totalling about 1,500 square metres. It has no permanent collection, but thanks to the temporary exhibitions it organises, it has carved out an important role for itself in the development of the contemporary art scene.
This modern art gallery is part of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague and was opened in 1994.
The Rudolfinum was an extraordinarily innovative project for its time. It was the first case in which the role of patrons of the arts was assumed not by wealthy nobles or clergymen, but by businessmen and financial institutions.
It was in fact a bank, Česká Spořitelna, that conceived and financed the ambitious project, entrusted to two of the most prominent architects of the time, Josef Zítek and Josef Schulz, who also designed the National Theatre. Construction began in 1875 and lasted ten years; the building was inaugurated on 7 February 1885 in the presence of Prince Rudolf of Habsburg, to whom it is dedicated.
From 1918 to 1939 and for several years after World War II, the building was the seat of the Czechoslovak Parliament.
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