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A Bit Of History Europe Odds n' Ends

Dancing House Prague

On the Rašín Embankment on the Vltava River in Prague stands “The Dancing House”, sometimes referred to by its nickname Fred and Ginger. The structure is so unique that the building is recognized around the world.

The Dancing House

It was erected on the site of a building destroyed by the U.S. bombing of Prague in World War II. The bombed out structure remained untouched until 1960, when the lot was cleared. The neighboring building and land was co-owned by Václav Havel, who spent most of his life living there. In 1986 Vlado Milunić, an architect in Czechoslovakia, came up with an idea for a project at the location and discussed it with his friend, Václav Havel.

The neighboring plot was actually co-owned by the family of Václav Havel, and he had spent most of his life there. At the time he was a little-known dissident who a few years later, during the Velvet Revolution*, became a popular leader in the country and was subsequently elected president of Czechoslovakia. It was probably his political pull that helped get the project funded.

View of Old Prague from the roof top bar

It was designed by a Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunić in cooperation with Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. Designed in 1992 the construction was completed four years later in 1996. In 1992 in Geneva, Gehry and Milunić began to work on Milunić’s original idea of a building consisting of two parts, one static and one dynamic or “yin and yang”, intending to symbolize the transition of Czechoslovakia from a communist regime to a parliamentary democracy.

Gehry was the one who originally referred to the house as Fred and Ginger after the dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers thinking the house resembled a pair of dancers.

The Dancing House cafe

*The Velvet Revolution, or the Gentle Revolution, was a bloodless uprising that caused a transition in government from communism in the Czech Republic. The revolution occurred between November 17 and December 29, 1989, and was marked by demonstrations led by students and political dissidents against the one-party government of the Communist Party.

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