When I tell somebody that I come from the Czech Republic, in almost 99 % of the cases, the usual response is something like: “Oh really? I love Prague; I was there xy years ago.” I mean, I don’t blame them, our capital is something else, but there is more to the country than that. I’ve come up with places in the Czech Republic worth visiting not only because of their beauty but also because these locations can spark curiosity for any travel lover on Instagram. While some are in the capital, most of them are in much smaller and unknown cities worth exploring because you won’t find this type of architecture everywhere.
The Dancing House (Prague)
Starting with the classic. When you arrive in Prague by plane, why not spend maybe a day or two there? One of the most unique buildings in the city, the Dancing House, needs to be added to your bucket list. The deconstructive building is located on the Rašínovo nábřeží and will either amaze you or leave you wondering what warrants its status. You simply cannot miss it due to its uncommon position amongst the line of buildings that follow traditional architecture. What I can promise you is that you will be able to capture many interesting photos for your socials either in front of it or on the rooftop with an amazing 360-degree view of Prague. There is also a gallery and a restaurant on the last floor. Interestingly, this building has a special connection to the Netherlands. After the Second World War, the land that the building stands on was bought by a Dutch insurance company Nationale Nederlanden, who selected the winning design from architects Vlado Milunic Frank and O. Gehry. This cooperation gave birth to this construction with plastic elements, which was awarded the prestigious prize in the design category in 1996 by the American Time magazine.
House of the Black Madonna (Prague)
If you are a fan of Cubist architecture, this decadently elegant hub is for you, located right in the very center, nearby Old Town Square. It was the first implementation of Cubist architecture in Prague, built around 1911–1912 and designed by Josef Gočár. So why not take a picture on the staircase balustrade or next to the entrance portal? Or right in front of the illusive painting of the interior walls with geometric designs? I’m sure the architecture will be able to mesmerize almost everyone. There is also a great restaurant called Černá Madona (Black Madonna) on the basement floor, famous for its brunch selection and compelling interior. So when you are in the Czech Republic, forget about Starbucks and go for something local. You won’t regret it.
Náplavka Cubicles (Prague)
Just a few years ago, architect Petr Janda decided to transform the vaults on the banks of the Vltava River into versatile public spaces right in the center of Prague as part of the project to “revitalize” the riverside. In the wall cubicles, several cafés, bars, and galleries operate daily. It has brought a completely different vibe to Náplavka since people don’t have to sit only on the floor anymore, but they can enjoy drinks or snacks in a stylish environment even when the weather is not perfect. This project has also been shortlisted in a competition for the best projects in Europe announced by the European Commission and the Mies van der Rohe Foundation. Can you think of a better photo location than this?
St. Barbara’s Church (Kutná Hora)
History and architecture lovers, pay attention. Also known as St. Barbara’s Cathedral, this UNESCO-listed gothic church is located just an hour and a half from the capital, Kutná Hora. Its unique design with a three-tent roof makes it an unforgettable monument worth visiting. The construction itself took over 500 years, beginning in 1388. Kutná Hora is a famous miners’ town, so this church became an important symbol of protection of the town’s miners and the town itself. Like the stunning church exterior, its interior is very Instagrammable. You might not believe it, but it was supposed to be twice as big as it is now. Pay this timeless symbol a visit, with only a little over 2 euros for admissions!
Liberec Town Hall (Liberec)
I’m not going to lie; Liberec is one of my favorite cities in the whole country. Located approximately one hour north of Prague, this very accessible gem is perfect for any traveler who wants to escape the chaos in the capital city. There are many cute cafés and beautiful nature in the Liberec area, but in my opinion, the Town Hall is the highlight. The project hall in the Trans-Alpine renaissance style was designed by Austrian architect Franz von Neumann, which also explains how it resembles the Vienna Town Hall. The 65-meter-tall building has been a significant monument in Liberec since 1893, and it’s worth every capture even if you are not into architecture.
Cervena Lhota Castle (Pluhův Žďár)
The Cervena Lhota Castle is truly one-of-a-kind: there is nothing quite like it. An iconic Renaissance building that almost every kid in the country knows from many Czech fairy tales is located just 20 km from Jindřichův Hradec, a city in the south of Czechia. It solemnly stands in the middle of a lake on a rocky island, making it just one of the few water castles in the country. This picturesque monument attracts visitors from all over the world all year round, but the best time to visit this jewel is in spring. You can also rent a boat and enjoy the castle from every viewpoint possible to capture that perfect shot!
Vila Tugendhat (Brno)
A functionalist villa designed by the famous German-American architect Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe was tailored especially for Greta and Fritz Tugendhat. This Jewish-German couple gave Ludwig creative control in building it. Desiring to achieve perfection, they supervised him closely throughout the whole process. Van der Rohe, who wasn’t limited by any budget, chose only the best materials and turned it into a luxurious property with an onyx wall from Morocco, noble woods, Barcelona armchairs, and many more designer pieces which look absolutely stunning in pictures. He designed not only the villa but also the furniture in the adjacent garden. Located in the second biggest city in the Czech Republic, Brno (only 2.5 hours from Prague), this place is so popular that it’s recommended to buy the tickets at least 2-3 months in advance. The exterior and enormous garden is Instagrammable themselves. Still, if you wish to take pictures inside the house, you need to pay an extra price – although this once-in-a-lifetime experience is worth the extra splurge.
As you can see, even though most tourists won’t make it outside Prague while visiting the Czech Republic, there are definitely some exciting places that will amaze you and make your trip unforgettable. Don’t sleep on the lesser-known cities, not just in Czechia but also in general. Since you can travel the country back and forth in only a few hours quite accessibly and inexpensively by bus or train, there’s no reason not to pack your bag and plan a little weekend getaway to the heart of Europe! You will thank me later.
Cover image via Pixabay
Edited by Quynh (Stephanie) Bui