On Mondays (my day off), and sometimes on Saturdays if I get the sermon finished in time, Sybille and I like to walk and explore different parts of Prague. Here are two pairs of pictures taken during two walking forays into different parts of the city during February 2011.
These first two pictures were taken in Troja, a suburb located on the other side of the Vltava from where we live and close to Prague Zoo. They show newly constructed flood defences, designed to protect the neighbouring housing and also the nearby zoo, from future flooding should the Vltava rise to levels similar to those experienced in the catastrophic floods of August 2002. These defences are quite new – when we were last here a few months earlier, major construction works were still underway.
The gap in the high concrete wall, allows road access to the riverside during times of normal river levels. But should water levels rise rapidly, then a sunken metal barrier can be raised between the two sections of the wall, blocking the road, but preventing floodwater from going any further.
The second picture shows the view alongside the river, at right angles to the first picture. The concrete wall with pillars on the left, is the continuation of the concrete wall in the first photograph. Again, there are sunken metal barriers between the pillars which can be raised in time of serious flooding. But when river levels are normal, the barriers are left down, allowing more light into the car park immediately behind the wall and the into the houses beyond.
The second pair of photographs were taken in the suburb of Hanspaulka, a little further west from where we live. The housing in Hanspaulka mainly dates from the first four decades of the twentieth century. However, the suburb also contains a number of examples of blocks of flats built in the early years of the Communist era, to provide much needed additional housing for the growing population of post-war Czechoslovakia.
Much grandiose Communist era artwork on buildings in the Czech Republic has quietly been eliminated and destroyed. But this somewhat quaint piece above the doorway of a small-scale three or four storey block of flats, has survived. As it says, it dates from 1951, only three years after the Communist coup of 1948. It celebrates two archetypal labourers working in heavy industry, ironically located in a suburb where such heavy industry has never existed!
The second photograph puts the artwork in context, showing where it is located, above the entrance to the flats built to house the hardworking proletariat. It also shows another feature found on many buildings across Prague – the provision of metalwork, located immediately below the street number of the building, to allow the display of two flags. As I explained in an earlier post about public holidays in the Czech Republic, in the Communist era this was for the display of a flag of Czechoslovakia, alongside the flag of the country’s fraternal friend, the Soviet Union. These days, two Czech flags will be displayed!