A unique space came into existence in the very city centre in 1912. An artificial stalactite and stalagmite cave was built in the basement of the Adria Hotel. This, however, is not unusual in history bearing in mind the outside artificial stalactite cave in the gardens of the Wallenstein Palace or the numerous attempts at an imitation of a stalactite and stalagmite formation in the Romantic period. The period of Art Nouveau was a period when Art as well as peoples interest turn back to Nature. Tourism and exploring wildlife become popular. Society becomes relaxed after the long nineteenth century when life was strictly divided into public and private the boundary finally starts to blur.
There are several reliefs in this stalactite and stalagmite cave, which are related to the ancient mythology. One of these is Cerberus, a three-headed dog, situated next to the entrance. His role in the ancient stories was mostly negative; he also flew at times. The main relief is difficult to decipher as it is entirely composed of symbols. A bearded and skinny male figure represents Charon the ferryman conveying the dead across the Styx to the underworld. In the period of Classicism, Charon was depicted as a strong and healthy man or even a boy; however, the Romantic period portrayed him as a corpse a skeleton. Charon has a pouch at the waist ferrying was charged with a fare. That is why in antiquity every deceased was given two coins to cover the eyes. These were for the ferryman to the Realm of the Dead. There is a crow perched above him it accompanies a lot of deities, such as Chronos among others. It represents fair judgement. There sits and owl below the crow, which has been an animal of the goddess Minerva since antiquity; therefore, it symbolizes wisdom.
Another relief depicts Pythia a prophetess of the Delphic Oracle. It was her who gracefully presided over the Oracle after it was assumed by Apollo. There is a laurel tree behind her, which used to be considered a tree of wisdom and also related to the figure of Apollo due to the tale of the nymph Daphne.
Although you will not come across this magnificent realization in the travel guides or in the scholarly books on Prague Art Nouveau, this one in question surely is very peculiar, featuring a range of dominating influences in architecture of the period. It is definitely worth mentioning and, last but not least, visiting. Nowadays, the artificial cave serves as a romantic space for a very tastefully furnished restaurant, which altogether offers a unique experience.