Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Vršovice from the Grébovka

We are looking east from the esplanade of the grand neo-renaissance residence built in the 1880s for industrialist Moritz Gröbe. The villa stands in the grounds of Havlíčkovy Sady, a beautiful tree-lined park named after Karel Havlíček, journalist, satirist and literary critic of the 19th-century Czech Revival. Among the many achievements of his short life was the proposal to change the name of Prague's great central boulevard from 'Horse Market' to 'Wenceslas Square'.

For many centuries this part of Prague was famous for its vines - hence the name Vinohrady - and here we can see a fraction of the magnificent Grébovka vineyard on the terraced hillside, descending to the Botič stream that runs along the southern edge of the gardens.  It is still operational, and a splendid gazebo at the western end of the terrace houses a restaurant which serves the product itself.

The white wall demarcates the boundary with Vršovice, which was an independent town until it was incorporated into Prague in 1922.  The view is dominated by the art-nouveau Civic Bank (1912) with its distinctive cupola, designed by architect Antonín Balšánek; in the distance on the right we can see the 4D Centre, a suite of hi-tech office buildings whose architect has been looking at colour-charts too long; and - just in picture - the modernist Church of St Wenceslas, built in 1929.


Glennis said...

Very interesting town, do they still make famous wines from those vines?

Alex said...

Hi Glennis. It's interesting; I only know of three operating vineyards in Prague. This one, a small one at Prague Castle, and the largest at Troja Chateau in the north of the city. All the wines are OK, but Bohemia is not really a wine-making region. If you want good Czech wine, try Moravian red (Moravia is to the east of Bohemia). None of them are internationally famous - not as famous as Czech beer anyway!

Leif Hagen said...

A charming, wonderful photo of Vrsovice! Looks like a place to add to the "must visit" travel list!

Anonymous said...

Do you know the name (or history) of the old, empty white building across from Česká spořitelna on Moskevská? It looks as if it were once very grand, with sweeping staircases leading from the street to an abandoned fountain and private garden. I lived just down the street, and always wondered ... Thanks!

Alex Went said...

Hi, yes! It's the so called 'Rangherka' and you can find out more about its fascinating history and the plans for its future development here. There are also old postcard images of the building as it used to be in the Old Vršovice section. Thanks for visiting - if you're on facebook, please 'like' this page :)

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