Saturday, 14 May 2011

Pony rides at Eden, Vršovice

Summer has surely arrived for these youngsters as they saddle up for the thrill of a pony ride at the Eden shopping precinct in Vršovice. During the last few weeks, mums, dads and doting babičky have been bringing the kids along for an ice cream and a go on the horses. It's a revival of a tradition that dates back to the heady days of the pleasure park that once stood here.

It must have been a time of great elegance in those sunny days before the war. As well as a huge helter-skelter and roller-coaster, Eden at its height once boasted bandstands, carousels, shooting galleries, three miles of boating lakes and an entire Abyssinian tribal village. In 1930, visitors flocked from far and wide to catch a glimpse of the Italian human cannonball Zacchini, whose performances must have been a real marvel for these children's great-grandparents.

It was not to last. The pre-war financial crisis spelt the end of this earthly paradise, which was demolished in the late thirties. In 1980, the architecturally grim 'Kulturní Dům' was built on the site, a communist-era community hall now every bit as dilapidated as the system which inspired it. The latest news, however, is brighter: the building is to to be completely renewed as the official clubhouse for local football teams Bohemians 1905 and their first-division neighbours Slavia Prague, whose brand new stadium now rises up where once the pleasure park stood.

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