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Municipal House (Obecní dům)

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Municipal House

The Municipal House (in Czech, Obecní dům) is a major civic landmark and concert hall in Prague, and an important building in architectural and political history in the Czech Republic. It stands on the Náměstí Republiky.

Around 1900, the building was commissioned by the city on an odd-shaped lot and the subject of one architectural competition, then another, both unsatisfactory. The job was then simply given to architects Osvald Polívka and Antonín Balšánek, who served as much as artistic coordinators as designers. Construction started in 1905 and it opened in 1912.

The Art Nouveau structure is an artifact of the Czech nationalism of the time and carries a wealth of ornament by some of the leading Czech artists of its day. The main facade features a large ceramic half-dome mosaic above the entry, Homage to Prague, by Karel Špillar. On either side are allegorical sculpture groups representing The Degradation of the People and The Resurrection of the People by Ladislav Šaloun, while the remainder of the rich decoration was done by Josef Mařatka, František Úprka and others, with light stands designed by Karel Novák. Inside there are murals by the famous Alfons Mucha, Jan Preisler and Max Švabinský and others, all of this on nationalist themes.

The main space within the Municipal House is the concert space, Smetana Hall, named in honor of Bedřich Smetana. On October 28, 1918, Smetana Hall was the scene of the proclamation of the independent state of Czechoslovakia.

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