Hradec Králové is a city of two faces. The first is historical and crowned with five spires on the main square. The second is modern and unique, established at the start of the 20th century with the inimitable atmosphere of the optimistic times of the First Republic. Travel through both worlds, have a seat in one of the local cafes and watch the game of light and shade on the Functionalist and Cubist palaces as well as the pastel colours of the Renaissance houses which change with the rays of sunlight.
The natural centre of the capital of East Bohemia is Velké náměstí. On first glance you will be attracted to the pair of massive towers on the Church of the Holy Spirit, built in a brick style which is not typical for Bohemia. Right next to this, you can climb to the top of the White Tower, from where a beautiful view of the whole city will open out before you. If the climb tired you out, buy some refreshments in the local brewery which can be found nearby.
Masters of modern art under one roof
When visiting Hradec Králové, make sure to visit the Gallery of Modern Art. In the collections of Czech modern art of the 20th century, which rank among the most important in the whole Czech Republic, you can see works by such masters as the genius of Art Nouveau Alfons Mucha, one of the most renowned graphic artists of modern painting František Kupka or the superb representative of Cubism Emil Filla.
Under the watchful eye of the Sphinx
The modern form of Hradec Králové in the spirit of the elegant Art Nouveau and Functionalism is the work of the world famous architects Jan Kotěra and Josef Gočár. Their unusual urban planning concept evokes admiration to this very day and is responsible for the town’s nickname, the Salon of the Republic. When discovering this part of the city, make sure to view the Art Nouveau building housing the Museum of East Bohemia, the entrance to which is guarded by two proud statues reminiscent of Sphinxes. However, pride of place in Hradec is held by the monumental Masarykovo náměstí, built in the shape of a slice of lemon, which is dominated by a statue of the first president of Czechoslovakia T. G. Masaryk.
Go for a coffee or visit the piranhas
If you are travelling with children, make sure to take them to the Giant Aquarium. As if by the wave of a magic wand, you will be transported from Central Europe to faraway Amazonia. Walk through the glass tunnel right under the surface of the water, and at least for a moment, you will find yourself among the exotic inhabitants of the rainforest. You can end your visit in the stylish Café Piraňa.