One of Prague’s best-kept secrets is the Winternitz Villa, located in a leafy, hilly and tranquil part of Prague’s fifth district, at Na Cihlářce 10. Designed by renowned Viennese architect Adolf Loos and Czech Karel Lhotek from 1931 to 1932, the former home is a must on the itinerary of anyone who has visited the Müller Villa, a project also carried out by Loos and Lhotek, in the Střešovice district of Prague 6. Both villas are exemplary models of the Raumplan feature that involves each room being on a different level. In the Winternitz Villa, there are six levels on three floors. While the furniture is not original, it does bring the spaces to life and give each room a distinctive character.
For fans of modern architecture, the work of Adolf Loos is a must-see. Viennese Loos was born in Brno, Moravia in Austro-Hungarian Empire that enforced Germanization. He became a Czech citizen thanks to Czechoslovak President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk during the First Republic of Czechoslovakia. In addition to the Müller and Winternitz Villas, Loos designed some housing in Pilsen of west Bohemia.
You won’t find any ornate façade or splendid statuary on the outside. The exterior of the villa has no adornment whatsoever. Instead, it is austere in shape of a cube. This lack of exterior ornamentation is another trademark of Loos’ designs. The cube form is one feature of the Raumplan design.
This villa gets its name from lawyer Josef Winternitz, who had the structure built and resided there with his family until 1941, when the four were forced to go to concentration camps. Josef and his son died at Auschwitz, but his wife and daughter lived through the war. During 1943 the city of Prague became the owner of the architectural gem, which was then used as a kindergarten until 1995. In 1948 the family received the property again. They left the school there, and in 1956 gave the villa to the state because they did not have the financial means to pay the millionaire’s tax.
In 1997 the Winternitz family received the property in restitution after many legal battles. For a while, private companies leased the space. Then, in 2017, the great grandson of Josef Winternitz opened the villa to the public for a one-week trial period. Praguers and tourists alike were enthusiastic to see the building. During April of 2017, the villa began offering tours of its interiors on a regular basis.
You’ll walk into a narrow, dark corridor that, to your surprise, suddenly becomes a light, airy and big living room, measuring 56 meters squared. The ceiling is four meters high. The small salon and dining room are smaller and symmetrical, on different levels than the living room.
Loos also often employed bright colors in his designs, and this villa is no different in that respect. On the next floor, the doorframes are a dynamic shade of blue and bright yellow, the floors wine red. From the first floor terrace it is possible to see splendid sights of Prague.
The second floor is home to a very moving space filled with family portraits. Visitors will definitely feel a connection to the family and can imagine them living in the villa. The terrace on this level offers superb views framed by horizontal beams. Sights of interest viewed from this floor include the National Theatre and Týn Church in the Old Town.
The villa is a must for architectural buffs and for those familiar with the Müller Villa. While there are similarities with the Müller Villa, the Winternitz Villa maintains its own special character. Special events, such as concerts with top-notch musicians, are held on the premises, too. Take time to walk through the picturesque area, if you have a chance. It is a section of Prague that few tourists visit.