Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tours and Such...

A great benefit about studying abroad, as opposed to just traveling through Europe, are the unique opportunities we receive through the UNO program. These opportunities have included a tour of the interior of the Prague Castle, the Parliament building, Senate Building, the Municipal House and most recently the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

I really love taking tours, and learning about the history and design of the places while actually standing and walking through the various structures. One tour I found quite impressive was the Foreign Ministry, which is near the Prague Castle. The building itself is actually considered a palace, formerly known as Czernin Palace.

We were given a tour of the various rooms, and our tour guide provided us with personal anecdotes, as well as myths and legends that go along with building. He showed us where President Obama was greeted, where drinks are served before a dinner party, as well the suite of former executive minister Jan Masaryk.

One thing the Czernin Palace is particularly known for is the defenestration (the act of pushing someone out a window) of Mr. Masaryk. On March 10th 1948 his life came to a tragic end by falling out of his bathroom window under unexplained circumstances. For some odd reason the Czech Republic’s history is filled with multiple defenestrations. One incident occurred in 1419 and other incident in 1618. During the tour, we were taken the bathroom where Mr. Masaryk was thrown out his window.

View from window in Mr. Masaryk's bathroom

In my Prague 20thCentury Art and Design class we had a class tour of Prague’s Municipal House (knows to Czechs as the Obecní dům) to observe the Art Nouveau style that was incorporated into the design of the structure. The interior of the building was beautiful, from the rich wooden floors to the chandeliers and light fixtures. During the tour, we were shown a series of rooms in the building that were painted and designed by famous Czech artists, including Alfons Mucha and Jan Preisler. The Mucha room was painted deep hues of blue and purple contributing to a mystical ambience in the room. Mucha designed everything in the room, from the curtains, to the furniture and the paintings on the ceiling. Out of all the rooms designed by the artists, his room was by far my favorite.

For my last week in Prague I have a tour of the Muller Villa with my Art and Design class. The Muller Villa was the first building of it’s kind in Prague, and it was designed with the Functionalist style. I can’t wait to go and see it!

Stain Glass Window in the Mucha Room from the Municipal House

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