Architecturally striking bank palace in Opava

THERE WAS A TIME WHEN IF THERE WAS A SAVINGS BANK IN A TOWN, IT MEANT LIFE WAS GOOD THERE.  SAVINGS BANKS WERE INDEED STRIVING TO MAKE THIS NOTION TRUE – THEY HELPED PEOPLE MANAGE, THEY SUPPORTED CHARITY, AND WITH THEIR BEAUTIFUL BUILDINGS HELPED CULTIVATE CZECH TOWNS.

 Architecturally striking building in a late Northern Renaissance style. High gables, and roofs, and red brick walls are typical for this style. 

Architecturally striking building in a late Northern Renaissance style. High gables, and roofs, and red brick walls are typical for this style. 

 The three-legged staircase with columns of polished red marble is a dominant feature of the building. The railing consists of bronzed blacksmith’s bars curled into spirals, finished with scattered acanthus leaves and small rosettes.

The three-legged staircase with columns of polished red marble is a dominant feature of the building. The railing consists of bronzed blacksmith’s bars curled into spirals, finished with scattered acanthus leaves and small rosettes.

In 1858, the bank opened a location in the Horní náměstí of the Silesian city Opava. Four decades later, the bank held an architectural competition for the design of the new building because the current location was filled to capacity and there was a growing worry about the safety of the deposits. Eighteen architects and builders participated in the competition. Although Viennese architect Friedrich Ohmann won, because of disagreements with the representatives of the board of directors of the bank, Carl Kern, an architect from Opava, ended up designing the building. The construction of the new building on the náměstí Republiky ended in 1902. 

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On the facade we can find medallions with portraits of the founders of the bank, embossed symbols, and allegories. For example, a steam railway symbolizes the modern industrial age, and the certainty of the banking house, like a calm harbor, is represented with a sailboat.  

In the interior there is a stunning element of marble – both natural and artificial, created with the stucco lustro technique. Included as well are stucco, gilding, and decorative paintings.

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Further adjustments and corrections were done in the 30s. Some were done in the German art style, which had to do with rise of Nazism.During the Second World War, the Gestapo used the building as their headquarters. Architect Jaroslav Pelan wanted to use the strong anti-German feelings after the liberation of the country to drastically change the facade in the spirit of Social Realism. In the end, his design wasn’t realized.  The last general reconstruction took place in the years 2004 – 2005 and today the building serves its purpose – to house the Česká spořitelna.

 

More about the architecture of bank palaces and Česká spořitelna you can read in our latest issue Soffa 26:


Text: Hana Janišová | TRANSLATION: MILA VIRK | photo: Barbora Bydžovská

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