Blossoming in the public spaces of Prague

Seminar_MG_6840Thousands of fruit trees grow in historical Prague, in various spaces accessible to the public.

 

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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.

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Prague 1 (in orange) in Prague. Screenshot, Wikipedia, 5 June.

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.
Map

The three gardens we visited. Google Maps Prague 1.

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.

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The Franciscan garden, restored in the early 1990s, features around fifteen mature fruit trees. Photo 29 April, Prague, Czech Republic.

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Visitors have direct access to some of the trees (click on image to enlarge).

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The other ones are protected by a green hedge…

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… and yellow signs featuring a crossed foot forbidding to enter the zone.

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Quite a pleasant place to chill out away from the bursting life of Prague’s city centre.

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:

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Schoolchildren observing and taking notes about herbs.

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The group of pupils observing and photographing apple blossom.

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My own photograph of the blossom.

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

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Church of Saint Nicolas in the background, seen from the bottom of the Seminary garden on Petřín Hill. Photo 2 May.

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Praguers like to come and relax among the Seminary garden’s fruit trees.

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They can enjoy nature and the view…

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… close to the heart of the city.

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Is this the pear tree that dates back to the time of the Czech writer and poet Jan Neruda (1834-1891)?

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Upper on the hill…

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… There are more secluded parts.

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Some maintenance is carried out on the trees, although the orchard seems mainly left to grow naturally.

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Chemical treatments are used, maybe against cherry flies?

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Many young trees have been planted recently.

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The overall feeling from the garden is that of a welcoming piece of nature created by humans, which, in its upper part, is quite wild.

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

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Many of the terraces of the Southern gardens feature fruit trees and vineyards.

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Restoration was started in the 1990s with the contribution of the Prince of Wales.

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The gardens are an oasis of calm.

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Pip fruit, stone fruit, figs and grapes add to the serenity of the place.

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.

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A remote view of the orchard, to the left, below the Strahov monastery. Photo 3 May.

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.
(source: prague.eu/strahov-garden).

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.

2 thoughts on “Blossoming in the public spaces of Prague

  1. Salut , super article et magnifiques photos des jardins de Prague
    Content de lire que vous projetez une visite a en autonne
    Eric

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