Vinohrady contrasts markedly with neighbouring Žižkov. Unlike the latter, which has a proletarian atmosphere, Vinohrady exudes bourgeois affluence, reflected in the regular layout, and the generously proportioned architecture of individual buildings. When it was established and as it blossomed, Vinohrady was a separate town rivalling the imposing architecture and ambitions of neighbouring historic Prague. Ordered streets, showpiece apartment blocks and magnificent public buildings – all make Vinohrady an example of the ideal wealthy city in the late 19th century. On the neighbourhood’s southern slopes, the structure of blocks was complemented by villas. The most significant of which is the neo-Renaissance mansion of industrialist Moritz Gröbe and surrounded by a large romantic park. The grandest dwellings stand close to the extensive Riegrovy sady, which also offers one of the most beautiful panoramas of Prague Castle. Remarkably, Vinohrady kept its well-to-do ambience, despite decades of rule by the communists. For them, the bourgeois quarter’s inhabitants were the archetypal class enemy, and destined for exemplary punishment or forcible re-education. Fortunately, the neighbourhood did not suffer huge demolition, the historicist dwellings weren’t radically rebuilt, and both main squares have been preserved intact. The first, Peace Square, faces a long boulevard linking Vinohrady with the New Town, where you’ll find the neo-Gothic St Ludmila, Vinohrady Theatre and the National House. The second is Jiřího z Poděbrad Square, dominated by the wonderfully impressive Modernist Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord, by Slovene architect Josip Plečnik.
Most important monuments:
Key architectural gems include the above structures, the neo-Renaissance Gröbe Villa, the neo-Gothic St Ludmila Church, and especially Plečnik’s Church of the Most Sacred Heart of our Lord. In a remarkable way, the building blends Modernism and the timeless and symbolic language of Mediterranean architecture.
Of equal interest are many apartment blocks; highlights include the noteworthy Jan Laichter House, designed by Jan Kotěra, the father of Czech modern architecture. Northern European brick architecture provides the inspiration for the building’s stark Modernist appearance.
In terms of the newest architecture, the Žižkov television tower, should be mentioned and is one of the communist regime’s final projects. The 200-metre-high tower, built on the site of an excavated Jewish cemetery, hovers over Žižkov like an apparition from another world. However, its architecture is, despite the controversial period and local context, of good quality. It also stands comparison with that of contemporary Western European projects. The tower is open to the public and affords excellent views across the entire city.