Wardrobes built all the way up to the ceiling, furniture dividers, folding beds, folding tables and seats, storage walls and hat hangers. And metal furniture. Welcome to a villa with a decorative Art Nouveau façade that dominates a street lined with bushy trees. No, we’re not in Paris, but in Prague's Vinohrady, one of the most prominent districts in Prague, whose history dates back to the middle of the 19th century.
Why are we comparing a villa to a Ferrari? Isn’t it obvious? Every Ferrari model is completely unique. Ferrari is one of the world's most exclusive car manufacturers. Everything it produces is top-notch, and can be considered one-of-a-kind. Ferrari is simply a limited edition in and of itself. How amazing must it be to own an actual LIMITED EDITION model! Because, you know, some Ferrari cars are produced even in very small quantities, and there’s even one ultra extra exclusive model - so exclusive that only a single piece has been produced. Yes, you heard me right!
If you already own a Ferrari, or are about to buy one, then you are clearly on the right path. Many people are wondering how to make an appropriate investment for life. And limited editions of anything - cars, books, stamps, jewellery or real estate - are definitely great value for money. This investment matures like wine and will pay off many times over the years.
The "limited edition" of First Republic villas is a similar case. Each building is unique, each has its hallmark of originality and uniqueness. You probably don't own a First Republic villa, but you certainly could. It would be a great item in your "to do" or "must-have" list.
Unfortunately, it’s still the habit here that we buy a luxury car first and a luxury villa later. Or rather - we buy a car first and an apartment later. :) In short, one has to grow into a First Republic villa, as well as into a Ferrari.
One way to grow is through inspiration, so let's go for a walk through Prague's Vinohrady together, where limited editions of villas are lined up like luxury cars in the parking lot in front of the Ferrari factory.
Originally, Vinohrady was a green hill, where the cream of society liked to stroll, enjoying the view of the historic centre of Prague. Today, it is a lively neighbourhood with lots of beautiful houses, shops, restaurants and cafes - a great place to live in.
Vinohrady is cheerful and sociable, but also hidden and quiet. Full of tiny streets and spacious boulevards alike, even streets with a dark past. One of the most lucrative districts of Prague, Vinohrady has very strong genius loci. So strong that it leaves a mark deep under the skin of anyone who’s lived there for more than ten years. They are familiar with all the houses and trees. They know where the sun rays will fall at what hour. And you will know it too - or, you could.
Vinohrady has always had a lot to offer. Architecture with lovely facades, spacious apartments with high ceilings and magnificent Art Nouveau houses with a characteristic reinforced concrete structure and a free floor plan. In addition, many of these houses are associated with a rich history and powerful stories. Several locations on the southern edge of the Vinohrady district are home to a variety of Art Nouveau summer houses, which is how villas were called back then. These buildings hailing from the period before the First World War occupy mainly the strip of two streets - Dykova (previously Letohradská) and Hradešínská.
Dykova Street also boasts several neo-baroque apartment buildings with front gardens according to the project of the architect Richard Klenka, built by the company F. Buldry in 1901. Between 1898 and 1899, the builder F. Šafařík built here a late historic villa with sgraffito in the Ohmann spirit, designed by architect Alois Dryák. And Dykova Street even boasts a villa with a golden-green turret by architect Antonín Turk. The villa next door was designed by the very same architect, even though it doesn’t look that way. In the 1920s, the architect Ladislav Machoň stripped it of its decorative elements. Another gem can be found at the end of the street, where a villa with classicist elements from the 1930s stands proud. This is where the founding meeting of the Jára Cimrman Theater took place at the end of November 1966.
The entrance to Hradešínská Street from Bezručovy sady is lined with two summer houses with towers. On the left side, it is Kolben's villa from 1897, which was modified to its present appearance in 1914 by the architect Max Spielmann. Its counterpart is the villa of the architect Josef Bertl from 1910 with wooden facade elements.
The same architect was likely the author of another family house in this street - No. 14 from 1900-1901. Between the two historic buildings, Jan Kotěra's own villa with a flat tower roof, a terrace and an ornamental facade, built of elementary prisms, grew in 1908-1909. The building is considered a highly cultivated example of the modern style.
The eastern part of Hradešínská was only built-up in a later period. However, villa No. 50, which is located a little farther away, was built in 1907 in the style of floral and anthropomorphic Art Nouveau. Its plans bear the sign of the city builder V. Sedláček.
Since we are talking about Vinohrady, we can’t forget to mention the famous twin-villa of the Čapek brothers. The left part belonged to Karel and the right one to Josef. Its construction began during the First Republic and Karel Čapek didn’t like there all that much. In his book Images of Home, he writes that he went to see a place that was about to be built-up, but he refused to return there. It’s true that Vinohrady was one large construction site at that time. But that also enabled the writer to build his own home there. Back then, those who wanted to start building would receive hefty state support, thanks to which even the middle class could afford to own an apartment or a house. Famous architects lived next door to writers, journalists and entrepreneurs. All one had to do was make a deposit and repay the rest over time. That’s also how the Svoboda villa colony, located around Hradešínská, Na Šafránech and Říčanská streets, was established.
Art Nouveau villas from the beginning of the last century have an extraordinary charm. And a strong genius loci. Above all, they reflect the lifestyle of their former inhabitants. Rich factory owners had maids in their households. For this reason, First Republic villas include not only spacious entrance halls, living rooms and multiple bedrooms, but also tiny rooms and chambers in which the servants slept. The magnificent villas also featured large libraries and gentlemen's studies. The ladies, on the other hand, had conversations over a cup of tea or coffee in the boudoir. The bedrooms typically sported a large bed with a distinctive headboard, a dressing table and a chest of drawers. The walls of Art Nouveau villas were decorated with valuable paintings and other design pieces.
Of course, the functionalist villas from the times of the First Republic can be found not only in Vinohrady, but also in Prague 6, Ořechovka (Müller's Villa), Prague 7 (Prague's Trade Fair Palace), and we can’t fail to mention the famous Villa Tugendhat in Brno. Also in Brno, you’ll find the historically significant colony of family houses Nový dům, with which Czech architects demonstrated their opinion on the standard of the living environment.
Alright, what’s left for us to do now? All we need is to complete the equation. Or start counting? How unique would it be to own something so extraordinary?
No matter what part of the equation we find ourselves in, we’re working on achieving the rest. Wouldn’t it be amazing to drive through Vinohrady in your limited edition Ferrari, open the gates of your villa (limited edition), park the car - and have a drink on the balcony or in the garden, in the best company. You are unique. Each of us is a limited edition. So close your eyes...