Noilly Prattle: “Stalinist Architecture” now a 5-star Capitalist Hotel

Thursday, February 23, 2012

“Stalinist Architecture” now a 5-star Capitalist Hotel

Soviet tank in Prague 1968

Czechoslovakia was, until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union, one the SSRs (Soviet Socialist Republics). (Remember the Prague Spring of 1968 when Soviet and Warsaw Pact tanks appeared in Vaclav Square and put down an attempt at political liberalization by Alexander Dubcek.)

There is still an area of Prague where echoes of the Soviet era can still be heard—or rather remnants of the finest and ugliest of Soviet era buildings for Communist Party members and the proletariat can be seen. In the theoretically classless society you can imagine who got the finest buildings and who got the slum tenements.

guest house for high Party officials
now Hotel Crown Plaza Prague
no longer red star
We were looking for a restaurant in the Dejvice District a short tram ride north from our apartment. My wife wanted to try the roast duck that is the restaurant's specialty. There happens to be an interesting Soviet era building a 15-minute walk from the duck restaurant; we decided to have a look at it. Built in the 1950s as a guest house for Communist Party officials it is the largest example of so-called Stalinist architecture in Prague. The building stands out from everything around it complete with a no-longer red star on top and its blocky facade can't be missed even from afar. The beautiful entrance door is made of brass and glass, while the lobby is decorated with black marble facing and art deco elements here and there. There are some interesting bas relief sculptures over the entrance that are typical of Soviet art glorifying the proletariat, as well as some paintings inside also depicting rather sentimental and idealized views of peasant and worker life.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the building is now a 5-star hotel—the Hotel Crown Plaza 

bas relief over the entrance (1 of  3)
brass and glass entrance door
art deco glass panes
sentimentalized paintings of proletariat
idealized painting of peasantry

Walking back to the tram stop we walked past what I took to be the more prosaic Soviet era tenements that housed the ordinary workers who were not necessarily Party members and probably never got to see the inside of the Stalinist guest house. 

 stuccoed concrete - probablySoviet era housing
for ordinary workers


Anonymous said...

I dare say…those communists of yester year are friggin' rolling over in their graves…THE PLAZA??!!!! LOL

Noilly Prattle said...

Yeah, ironic!