Prague - A Dancing House and French Cuisine
Designed by Frank Gehry, the Dancing House in Prague is a masterpiece of modern architecture. A meal in Restaurant Celeste on the top floor is the only way to see its interior.
The Dancing House in Prague
Rasinova Nabrezi 80, Prague.
The Dancing House overlooking the Vltava River consists of two graceful towers of nine floors, vaguely reminiscent of two ballroom dancers. He is the rigid vertical half and she the swaying glass partner. However, the pinch in the middle of the glass tower is not just her slim waist. It allows the neighbours to have a peek at Prague Castle from their windows.
This extraordinary feat of architecture is located just outside Prague's tourist centre. It is on the corner of Rasinova Nabrezi and Resslova Street and opposite Jiraskuv Bridge, the second bridge south of Charles Bridge. It is not open to the public, but diners can enjoy French Cuisine on the top floor in restaurant Celeste.
The Dancing House fills the place of an apartment bombed in the Second World War. The building next door escaped the blast. This was the apartment block where ex-president Vaclav Havel spent his childhood and lived in the top floor flat until the 1990s.
Vaclav Havel commissioned Croatian architect Vlado Miluc to make a design to fill the gap. Miluc's original plan was a multi-functional venue for art and culture, but investors were not forthcoming. However, the Dutch Insurance Company De Nationale Nederlanden, now ING-Bank, was interested but on these two conditions – the building was to be an office block and a prominent architect should design it.
Canadian born Frank Gehry, famous for his design of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao was going to work together with Miluc. The building consists of concrete panels differing in shape and dimension. Another challenge was that the building plot was only 500 square meters. Construction work started in 1994 and the building was finished in 1996 causing quite a stir. The Dancing House starkly contrasts with its Art Nouveau neighbours. It is now regarded as one of the more interesting buildings in Prague. In 1997, The Dancing House won the Time Magazine Design of the year 1996 award.
The assigned budget was gigantic because the ING Bank wanted to create something spectacular. Mission accomplished. The Dancing House is not only spectacular but an aesthetic treasure that marvels tourists and even longtime Prague residents.
Celeste Restaurant - Almost Heaven
Dancing House, Rasinovo Nabrezi 80, Prague
There are only two ways to see the interior of the Dancing House. Buy an apartment in Prague and sign the contract at Svoboda & Williams Real Estate Agency whose office is in the Dancing Building. However, it is more likely that you will dine in restaurant Celeste on the top floor.
Stepping out of the lift, you enter a circular dining room - light and airy with windows on three sides. Sweeping views of Prague Castle, Petrin Hill, Charles Bridge and the Vltava River will make your meal memorable.
A red tulip on each table complements the soft pink hues that cast a dreamy light across the room. On balmy summer evening tables spill out on to the outside terrace. The French chef makes lunch or dinner an adventure for gourmets.
Seafood lovers will appreciate the Dover sole served with endives, leeks, yellow beets and celery smothered in a white wine sauce. Vegetarian have a difficult time in Prague, but not in Celeste restaurant. Potato gnocchi accompanied by baby spinach oozing with melted Beaufort cheese and topped with poppy seeds is hard to resist. A Pinot Blanc or Riesling Grand Cru is the perfect wine and a pleasure for the palate. Finish your meal the French style with a choice of French cheese followed by mouthwatering pistachio ice-cream with lemon meringue and poppy seed biscuits.
Celeste Restaurant is non-smoking, accessible by lift and open Monday to Saturday 12:00 – 14:30 and 18:30 – 22.30. the nearest Metro Station is Karlovo Namesti (line B)
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