Thousands of fruit trees grow in historical Prague, in various spaces accessible to the public.
We stayed for five days in the 1.3 million inhabitants’ capital of the Czech Republic this spring. Fruit trees were blossoming in Prague 1, the 3×2 km (2 square miles) municipal district that features most of the historical landmarks of the city.
The Eastern part of Prague 1 is the dense and vibrant centre of the city whilst the Western part features large green spaces.
The pictures in this post were taken in three different places:
- The Franciscan garden, a small garden located in the Eastern part
- The Seminary garden, a large orchard on Petřín Hill on the Western side of the river
- Prague Castle Southern gardens, terraced gardens just below the castle.
A fourth place is the Large Strahov garden. We didn’t walk through it, yet it will mentioned in the last chapter of this article.
The Franciscan garden
The Franciscan garden is a 3,000 square-meter public garden located yards away from Wenceslas Square, Prague’s equivalent of Paris’ Champs Elysées.
“A much larger place in previous centuries, the garden was named after the Carmelites and Franciscans who once grew herbs, spices, flowers, vegetables and fruit here”.
Source and more information: prague.eu/franciscan-garden, accessed 12 July.
The garden is not only ornamental: it is also used for educational purposes. On a Friday morning, during school hours, a class came to learn about fruit trees, herbs and flowers:
The Seminary garden
The Seminary garden, on the other side of the river two tram stations away from the Franciscan garden, is a much larger place, featuring an orchard of 2,100 trees on the slopes of Petřín Hill.
“Over the course of the centuries, Petřín Hill was divided into several gardens, the cultivation of which dates back to the 1830s… In the years 1912 – 1914, a lot of fruit trees were planted here… In 1927, the garden was purchased by the Prague community… One of the pear trees supposedly dates back to the time of Jan Neruda”.
Source and more information: prague.eu/seminary-garden
Prague Castle Southern gardens (admission fee)
In contrast with the Seminary garden, the Prague Castle Southern gardens are everything but a wild and natural place. They are an expression of civilisation and culture.
“They have been established and changed ever since the 16th century… In the beginning of the 1990s, a vast reconstruction of the gardens was completed after nearly 60 years, and they were opened to public… They returned the gardens the appearance which was as close as possible to the one arranged for by Josip Plečnik upon the wish of President T. G. Masaryk. »
Source and more information : prague.eu/castle-gardens
The Large Strahov garden
We look forward to coming back in the autumn to see the trees bearing fruit. I hope it will also be an opportunity to talk to the organisations that invest in and maintain these orchards.
We also intend to visit the Large Strahov garden to have a more complete view of the main orchards of historical Prague. The garden, closer to the Prague Castle than the Seminary garden, is one of the best places to take pictures of an orchard in an old city.
I would also be keen to learn about the “former fruit drying plant by Giovanni Domenico Orsi from the years 1671 to 1679”, which is now the garden husbandry.
Surely, there is more to discover about fruit trees and fruit use by looking further at the history of this city.
As for present times, our visit to the gardens of Prague was not only a pleasure to the senses. It also enabled us to start and figure out what place fruit trees hold in Czech society and more generally in Central and Eastern Europe. A topic to be discussed in another post.