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Old postcards of Prague   Podskalí

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The name itself suggests that the legendary Podskalí area is a settlement located under the rocks. In this case the Vyšehrad Rock is in question, as well as the section of the Vltava River bank heading to the north, nearly as far as the Šítkovské Mills. A traditional occupation of the inhabitants of this area was timber-rafting, trading in timber and other activities connected with the nearby river, such as ice-breaking, working with sand, fishing and selling fish.

A fishermen’s hamlet in Podskalí had existed in this location before the foundation of the New Town. Later on, however, it was incorporated into the district demarcated by the New Town city fortification. Nevertheless, this had no effect whatsoever as to the fundamental form of the ground plan, which remained intact practically until the extinction of this settlement. The ground plan was quite simple. The Podskalí Quarter had two long streets parallel with the river and transversal lanes, which evolved with the passage of time from lanes between the individual houses, gardens and timber yards.

It is obvious that the settlement on the Vltava River suffered from annual floods, but it was also affected by other catastrophes. In 1420 it was burnt down by Sigismund’s soldiers and during the Thirty Years’ War it was plundered. It was not until the Baroque period, which saw a building boom in the entire area of Prague and a consequent increased demand for timber, that the Under the Rocks quarter experienced some prosperity. In the course of the 17th and 18th centuries large timber-rafting houses located at the river bank received a Baroque form, which remained essentially intact until the clearance.

There was a regulation that only the inhabitants of the Podskalí Quarter, to the houses of which a part of the river bank pertained, could pursue timber-rafting. The timber-rafting houses in the area Under the Rocks were the most architecturally imposing and were concentrated in the long Podskalská (Under the Rocks) Street (approx. 900 metres long), which actually had one end only, as the other end was formed by the river. The number of timber-rafting houses did not exceed forty at any time. At their backs there were gardens and yards and, where the ground started ascending gently, there were the small houses of artisans and workers. Enclosures with platforms for lifting the logs, which were located across the street towards the river, also belonged to the timber-rafting houses.

The extinction of the Podskalí Quarter was a consequence of the regulation of the Vltava River banks. The construction of safe bank walls separated the former timber-rafting settlement from the river for ever. The first part of the Podskalí Quarter in the vicinity of Moráň became extinct between 1876 and 1878 in connection with the construction of the Palacký Bridge and the bridgehead. Continual clearance of the area followed between 1904 and 1914. The last houses of the area located on the lowered ground of the original Podskalská Street were demolished in 1924 due to the large-scale urban construction scheme for the area beneath Rmauzy designed by B. Hypšman. The only buildings to be left from the original Under the Rocks quarter is the small Church of the Holy Trinity in Trojická Street and the building of the former Customs office for the area at Výtoň.

postcards Podskalí

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