November 26, 2013

Socialist Realism in Ostrava

nothing against serbia
Sport Hall Ostrava

Ostrava is the third and most eastern city of the Czech Republic.
Exploitation of high quality black coal deposits during the communist era of Czechoslovakia gave the city an industrial look and the nickname “steel heart of the republic” 
Though many of the heavy industry companies are being closed down or transformed and the city is one of the most polluted in the European Union, the city surprises with some good examples of soc-realist architecture.

Socialist realism in architecture (called SORELA in communist Czechoslovakia) is characterised by monumentalism and historicism seeking inspiration in the Renaissance and Classicism. Many buildings were inspired by Russian Stalinist style, which represented the then-peak of perfection.

In the town center of Ostrava there is a unique display of architecture and urban planning from the turn of the 20th century.

Elektra Palace (side facade)
Soc realism and strange art
The house was built in the thirties of the last century, and has been a cultural and social center since the beginning. In 1996, after a complete reconstruction of the building it was declared a cultural monument. It is now a Hotel.
The spaced out piece of art in front of the building makes an interesting combination with the soc realism statues of the facade!

The House of Fine Arts

The House of fine arts at Jurečkova 9 in the center of Ostrava
In 1923, the Association for the Establishment and Maintenance of an Exhibition Pavilion in Moravian Ostrava was created, and held a design competition. Two second places were awarded, one to architect Kamil Roškot, the other to the team of František Fiala and Vladimír Wallenfels. It was the later submission which was eventually realised in 1926. The House of Fine Arts, built in an unusually original yet simple style, was the most modern building of its kind in the region at the time. 

The New City Hall
The new City Hall at Prokešovo náměstí 8 in Ostrava center
The new building from the 1920's was to house not only the administration of greater Ostrava, but regional offices as well. Brno architect Vladimír Fischer was awarded the contract for the simplicity and balance of his design. His project was later completed by František Kolář and Jan Ruby. From 1925-1930, the new four-storey functionalist building with two three-floor wings and a lookout tower of light steel was built that would come to dominate the centre of Ostrava.
It's the largest City hall in the Czech Republic with the country’s highest City Hall tower (85,6m high with a lookout 72m above Prokeš Square). In the late 1990’s, the building underwent a considerable reconstruction, including the council room and mayor’s office.

 Sorela in Ostrava-Poruba

The Stalin Baroque a.k.a. SORELA a.k.a Socialist Realism in Architecture is what the official style of the Communist era in the Czech Republic was called. A good example is the Ostrava borough of Poruba. 
The ground plan of streets and squares forms a regular pattern full of right angles. Blocks of flats are of the same height and form virtually closed complexes of residential buildings of light sand colour, with the large courtyards typical of Russian urban buildings. The sorela style includes a number of actual or implied Classicist columns and triangular or stepped gables, as well as historicising elements on the facades of buildings, celebrating national motifs and the building of a new country. Despite this, sorela does not have only negative aspects; the positive aspects include spacious boulevards, sufficient greenery and a traditional system of street blocks. Life in Ostrava-Poruba is definitely more pleasant than, say, on high-rise housing estates.
(excerpts from

Air View of Ostrava-Poruba (
Monumental, historicist, symmetrical, decorative and full of Stalinist ideology – this is Socialist Realism, or ‘sorela’.

old industrial building in the Ostrava suburbs

This is the third post of my little itinerary through Eastern Europe Prague-Brno-Ostrava-Krakow-Zakopane-Presov-Beograd.
First post: Soviet Style Architecture in Prague
Second post:Brno Architecture

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