Recently when we looked through old pictures, we realized to how many places we have been – long before we thought of or even started this blog. So, we decided to share with you once a week a place we explored in the past in our rubric “Been There Yesterdays”.
In April 2012 we celebrated our wedding anniversary in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. Whilst strolling through the city centre along the Vltava river, we came across a unique, modern building surrounded by historic architecture.
The daring, curvy “Dancing House” was designed in 1992 by the architect Vlado Milunic in cooperation with the Canadian-American Frank Owen Gehry and completed in 1996. Initially the building was nicknamed the “Fred and Ginger Building”, after the legendary dance duo but is now officially called Nationale-Nederlanden after a Dutch insurance company (now ING Bank) who sponsored the building.
The very non-traditional design was controversial at the time because the house stands out among the Baroque, Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings for which Prague is famous, and in the opinion of some it does not accord well with these architectural styles. The former Czech president, Vaclav Havel, who lived for decades next to the site, had avidly supported this project, hoping that the building would become a center of cultural activity.
The top floor of the “Dancing House” is the only part of the building open to the public, and is home to one of the city’s leading restaurants – the Ginger & Fred Restaurant. Ginger & Fred presents a delightful international menu complimented by magnificent views over Prague. Unfortunately we were not among the diners who get to look out in panoramic splendour over the river, to Charles Bridge and to Prague Castle.