City Quarters

Letná

Stromovka is bordered by the Vltava River to the north, Holešovice to the east, and from the south by a narrow band of blocks of houses which separate it from Letná Plain. On its outskirts stands the National Technical Museum, whose rich collections entice lovers of antique vehicles and technical achievements from all time periods. The Letná Gardens lie on Letná Plain, which directly connect to the Chotek Orchards under the Royal Gardens under Prague Castle. Today, they are connected by the Footbridge across the Chotek Road (Lávka nad Chotkovou silnicí), reconfigured in 1995 by the architect Bořek Šípek. So, Prague Castle actually retained a significant part of its original character. Besides the calming greenery, sports grounds and garden restaurants, one can find artistic works here, e.g. the Art Nouveau Hanayský Pavilion from the Jubilee Exhibition of 1891, which was moved here after 1898 or the beautiful Prague Lookout Restaurant (Vyhlídková restaurace Praha) from the famous Expo 1958 international exposition in Brussels. The restaurant, for its time a pre-eminent work (of J. Hrubý, Z. Pokorný and F. Cubr), has recently undergone reconstruction.

The communist regime had serious plans for Letná. In the 1950s, the Letná Tunnel was built under Letná Plain, connecting Letná with the Old Town, and above it, a colossal statue of J. V. Stalin and his co-fighters. Soon after its completion, the no less difficult task of demolition began, as time revealed the contemptible practices of the acclaimed. Eventually, time even swept away the socialist era. During the Velvet Revolution, there was a general strike demonstration in which half a million people participated. That was the final straw that brought down the old regime. The Chronometer was placed where Stalin once stood – a symbol of new times.

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