Besides beautiful nature, the Czech Republic also boasts a rich past, particularly in terms of industry. Throughout modern history, the Czech lands have been an industrial leader, and so it is of no surprise that the country carries this industrial legacy through to the present. Today there are top theatres, museums, and cultural centres in former industrial buildings, though you can also tour a former foundry or a water treatment plant.
Prague Buildings with a Scent of HistoryHergetova Cihelna is a stylish restaurant in Prague on the banks of the Vltava. Residents of Prague as well as tourists go there to taste the creative variations on popular Czech and international dishes, including gourmet salads and the freshest seafood and products. The building also holds the Franz Kafka Museum and exhibition spaces. The garden restaurant offers pleasant seating by the Vltava River and a stunning view of both Charles Bridge and ‘Czech Venice’, as this part of Čertovka is called. One wouldn’t guess that this location was a brick factory for more than 50 years in the second half of the 18th century.
The building that was formerly Sova’s Mills was built in the 15th century, reconstructed after a fire in 1896, and finally transformed into the Kampa Museum after an extensive reconstruction 100 years later. Today, there is a collection of modern Central European art and the collections of František Kupka, a pioneer of abstract art, and Otto Gutfreund, a Czech Cubist sculptor.
The old water treatment plant in Prague – Bubeneč was built between 1901 and 1906 and it served its intended purpose until 1967. Today, you can enjoy a unique tour of the former water treatment plant. There are only guided tours available, but they are worth it. You will see the preserved areas with original technological equipment for water treatment, driving the machinery (steam engine room and boiler room), and related operations. There are also copies of the original plans, historic photographs from the beginning of the facility’s construction, and a 1943 documentary film. You can also raft through the underground pipes, climb up a chimney, or enjoy a great cup of coffee at the local Café Továrna.
In Prague Holešovice you can find the La Fabrika cultural space. Today it is a multipurpose centre that hosts theatre performances, concerts, exhibitions, film projections, multimedia expositions, seminars, workshops, and even acrobatic shows. When you visit the space, you won’t guess that it used to an imitation bronze foundry until the 1980s. Another old factory transformed into a multipurpose space is the building that contains the DOX Contemporary Art Centre. Not only does it offer an interesting programme of exhibitions and events, but it also features an elegant wooden zeppelin named Gulliver, which rests on the factory roof and serves as a space for cultural events.
Industrial Wonders Outside of PragueThere are other industrial gems outside Prague. There is one-of-a-kind industrial monument in the North Moravian capital of Ostrava. Dolní oblast Vítkovice is an extensive industrial area of ironworks with a distinctive collection of industrial architecture made all the more outstanding by the fact that the ironworks were originally opened in 1830! Their operation ended in September 1998, and today you can tour three interconnected units – a bituminous coal mine, a coke plant, and a blast furnace. There is a lookout tower as well as a bar and a café called the Bolt Tower. The top-quality Gong multipurpose hall, which used to be a massive gas container, is also well worth a visit.
Plzeň, at the centre of West Bohemia, has converted the former public transit depot into a multipurpose area called DEPO2015. Admission is free, and after you enjoy a coffee and bite to eat at their café, you can also enjoy interactive exhibitions, a community garden, or see a concert or theatre performance. The centre also contains plenty of office spaces to lease, art studios, and spaces for artists-in-residence.