Metro Palace

passage, roof (at once own risk), staircase A, basement; Image Theatre – entrance foyer, staircase, theatre hall, café, costume and decoration storage, technical facility

Sunday, October 28; 10 am – 6 pm

Photos: Vladimír Lacena

Transport: subway B / tram (Národní třída)
Visiting Method: freely and also in groups
bezbariérový přístupexcept the roof and theatre stageToaletyobčerstvenívýhledy

Address: Národní 961/25, Praha 1-Staré Město
Year: 1870 (1st reconstruction); 1928 (2nd reconstruction); 2016 (3rd reconstruction of the cinema)
Architects: Bedřich Tesař (original Neo-Renaissance building); František Kavalír (Art Deco reconstruction in the 1920s); Karel E. Ort (cinema and passage); Petr Hlaváček and Magdalena Hlaváčková (reconstruction of the cinema into a theatre)

Mr. and Mrs. Kleinhampl, Václav and Otilie, bought the house on Národní Avenue (Viktoria Avenue at the time) in 1919 and began with an extensive reconstruction three years later. The rebuilding process was led by architects František Kavalír and Karel E. Ort, and it resulted in a five-floor palace primarily intended for social use – it included a wine bar, a café, a billiards hall, and a cinema. The cinema was located in the basement, and it was one of Prague’s biggest cinemas; it could fit in up to 1000 spectators. Some contemporary witnesses maybe still reminisce about the fast food vending machine or the famous delicatessen that attracted those who were just passing by to come inside. There were many more shops in spaces that were for rent in the palace, and there were offices and apartments in the upper floors. The palace was nationalized in 1945; but movies were screened in the Metro Cinema until the 1960s – these included even the forbidden films from the First Republic starring Nataša Gollová, Adina Mandlová, or Lída Baarová. There were many different users of the building until 1989, which added to the building’s decay. In the cinema, there was for example a Czechoslovak Radio studio, a storage of Laterna magika theatre, and after the revolution, it was even used for laser games. After a painful history, the Kleinhampl family managed to regain ownership of the palace and takes care of it still to this day. Even the cinema underwent a costly reconstruction in 2016; the project was designed by architects Petr and Magdalena Hlaváček. It was converted into the present Image Theatre, which focuses its repertoire on black light theatre, dancing, and pantomime. 

Interesting facts:

  • In 1934, the cinema began to be rented by communists on Fridays and Saturdays. They usually projected Soviet documentaries about the successes of the Soviet Union’s development, but sometimes they also screened an actual famous movie, such as The Battleship Potemkin.