The Periphery of Prague

Housing estates in Prague-Modrany Prague’s periphery is far more interesting than a visitor might expect. It does not have entirely uniform a character, it is rather a mixture of different styles, which emerged as the population of the outskirts went in time.

The most visible and probably dominant kind of architecture is that of large- scale slab block housing estates. These do, especially when seen from a higher point in the inner city, for instance the Vysehrad castle or the Jindrisska tower near the Wenceslas square, look like a modern fortification of the capital. They were built mostly in the 1970s and the 1980s, often on empty, currently unused spaces (“on a green meadow” is a translation of a Czech term for these), with only sporadic settlement. If the slab-block dominated areas seem desolate to you, just imagine what impression they’d been making during the time of the construction and shortly afterwards. The estates were greenery-less, there were no parks or playing fields. The shape they are in today is much better. It is interesting that, as I’ve heard, the slab blocks were not even economical. It was more of a trend, a kind of vulgar version of then- popular functionalism and mainly “Corbusiéresque” urbanism.

Sometimes I wonder what the process felt like for the former population, the small settlements, as they were slowly being replaced by the big city architecture. You may often see a house or two, obviously older than the concrete giants, standing in their shadow, surrounded. They seem almost grotesque, given the contrast in style, imagination of the projects, which works as a remainder that changes in city architecture should be cautious and more sensitive in the future.

What remained are the small villa- quarters inside the peripheral ones. There is, for example, an old quarter called Záběhlice, situated in Prague 4, which is quite picturesque. Another example is almost village- like Písnice and some parts of Modřany. These are the older parts, left behind and, luckily, left alone during the process. Elegant, quiet, out of place, they feel like islands in a sea of concrete, since most of these areas are already encircled by the slab blocks. Shame they present only very small sections of the above- mentioned quarters.

There are numerous places like those mentioned in the peripheral or semi- peripheral parts of Prague. It is good to know about them and eventually have a look if you’re forced to head their way.

Aug 4, 10:13 (Filed under: Other )

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