Kampa is perhaps the best known island in Prague. At first sight, you may not be able to tell, but the entire length of this piece of land is separated from the rest of Lesser Town by an artificial gully called Devil’s Stream (Čertovka). It served as a mill run for local mills since the Middle Ages. Today, though, people go there not for flour, but to relax and recharge their batteries. The little bridges connecting the banks of the Devil’s Stream, the sound of a mill wheel, tree branches, lazily hanging above the water surface – all create a beautiful romantic scenery, which lures not just the tender hearted, but also draws many a photographer and filmmaker. It is not by chance that this part of Kampa is also called the “Prague Venice”. The atmosphere of the place is best taken in aboard a small boat, nicknamed “Vodouch” (water spider), which sails past at regular intervals.
While the southern part of the island opens onto the grassy part of the park, which, especially during the summer months, is home to various social events, festivals or concerts, approaching Kampa from the Charles Bridge gives you a completely different view. The northern part of the island is a fully built-up area, the small square often hosting markets, filling the air with the smells of local specialties and charcoal from the blacksmith’s stand. You suddenly feel like you’ve been transported to different century – it’s no wonder then, that for years, many artists have loved this place.
The actors Voskovec and Werich, for example, spent a part of their lives here. So too, did composer Bohuslav Martinů, philologist Josef Dobrovský, the artist Jiří Trnka or the poet Vladimír Holan. The house in which most of the above mentioned lived, is today known as Werich’s Villa, and you will find it opposite the Liechtenstein Palace, right at the beginning of the park. Today, the villa, like the nearby Sova’s mill (easily recognizable by a colony of yellow penguins that are headed towards it from the Vltava River), serves as a gallery.
Lest we forget, there is also a protected children’s playground on the island – so that during your rest (e.g., during a picnic below the crown of the plane tree, which has stood here for two centuries) your little ones too, are not left out.
Kampa is but a stone’s throw away from Lennon’s wall – if you bring something to write with you on your walk, nothing should stop you from immortalizing your thoughts and artistic ideas!Marek, Avantgarde Prague