I like Prague and absolutely best place for me is Prague’s district Smíchov. Anyone who likes diversity must love Smíchov. I like the local relatively dense of bookstores network, as well as cafes and pubs, but I am also attracted by local Italian pizzerias, Chinese bistros and Vietnamese shops. I’m glad they’re here practical institutions, such as a printer of newspapers and magazines or monument of the Czech writer Jakub Arbes. I like it when the children prognosticate in tram on the National Avenue on which level the Fountain at the Palace of Justice will spout water today. I love a bearded man who always, when going around the shop-window of the cafes in Švanda Theatre, stick out to all its guests his long tongue. I am very happy with looking at Smíchov Art Noveau, but sometimes I go and take a look at the butcher’s shop window named “The funny animals”. So I believe that I explained properly, that only a complete grumbler can hate Smíchov.
And what I love absolutely most, when in the half of Smíchov begins an incredibly intense garlic smell! The source of this strong and pungent smell is quite obvious. In the Kinsky garden just blooming large crop of Few-Flowered Garlic (Allium paradoxum). There is not really its natural place – come up from the Central Asia. Here it has been once planted and it likes this place same way as I love it here, so it grows and grows. And smells, and smells…
But this is not only a favourite place for me and this unusual garlic! In Smichov greenery you will find in the beginning of the spring often escaped Eranthis hyemalis, Puschkinia scilloides, Muscari, snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis), tulips (Tulipa sylvestris, Tulipa turkestanica) and lots of bizarre saffron cultivars. Smíchov (mixing place) got its name long time ago, because here was a meeting place of people from all parts of Bohemia and the old monarchy. People was mixed here in the past – like the exotic tulip with homemade Lesser celandine (Ficaria bulbifera) and alien garlic with Yellow anemone (Anemone ranunculoides) are mixing here today.
Author of this engaging floristic mix is today’s park, formerly Kinsky Garden. In the twenties of the 19th century, the prince Rudolf Kinsky built a new garden. Managed by architect Franz Höhnel. Next to the garden was built also the pleasure house. He had to significantly modify the terrain here – it is actually on the slopes of Petrin, so it was necessary to create several plane parts for the pleasure house and the lower part of the garden and also for empire greenhouse (that unfortunately does not exist today). The garden occupies an area of nearly 22 hectares and is located in fairly rugged terrain, at altitudes of 197 to 318 meters.
After the establishment of independent republics were moved here some other buildings. The St. Michael’s wooden church from 18th century looks almost as a revelation here. It comes from the Carpathian Rus, precisely at Medvedovce (not far from Ukrainian Mukachevo) and was transferred here in 1929. In the beginning of 20th century was the garden being bought by Smíchov municipality. This municipality founded the ethnographic museum here. Church of Transcarpathia have therefore had to become. Well, the bell tower of the Moravian Dolní Bojanovice too, as well as Baroque wayside crosses, which probably originate from Žižkov.
So we are back in Smichovs mixing! Not only flowers of Middle Asia, but also buildings from the Central Europe had been mixed here.
And certainly the memorial of Kvapilová Hana (from Jan Štursa), famous Czech actress, that is placed next to the pleasure house. Very impressive is the baroque statue of Hercules, which was transferred here from the Prague’s island Kampa.
In the garden there are also two romantic lakes. Especially the Lake over the pleasure house is actually a pretty big building. Lower part of the garden is designed as a spacious parterre with a pleasure house, which is surrounded by a forest park woods mostly of foreign origin (ie again Smíchov mixing that).
My web colleague Lubomir Rak has just recently managed to find the old plan of planting trees in this park from the 60s the last century. This document is quite interesting, so it presentation follows. Certainly we don´t want to claim to proposal of complete inventory of trees in this park – it is almost 50 years old, I’m sure many things could happened and change. But try to check yourself when hiking in this park to determine which trees from that list are still here and which are already gone.
Acer platanoides ´Palmatifidum´
Acer pseudoplatanus ´Leopoldii´
Fagus sylvatica ´Atropurpurea´
Fraxinus excelsior ´Diversifolia´
Fraxinus excelsior ´Pendula´
Juniperus chinensis ´Pfitzeriana´
Quercus macrocarpa ×Quercus alba
Quercus robur ´Fastigiata´
Robinia pseudacacia ´Unifolia´
So if you sometimes will visit the Czech Republic and its capital city Prague, you have to definitely visit and walk through the Smíchov. It is possible that we’ll be in this park.
Then just stick out your tongue infront of the the shop-window of the cafes in Švanda Theatre. I will get to know by the waiter for sure. Maybe we will see each other!
These images were taken in Czechia, Prague, in 2007 and 2008, whenever a garlic was flowering.
Translation: Lucie Hodačová