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Upper Žižkov

Location: Škroupovo náměstí, the park

The colloquial name “Upper Žižkov” relates to the location whose hypothetical centre is the Škroupovo náměstí (Škroupa Circus), and which constitutes the transition between the typical old Žižkov and Vinohrady. The Circus is situated to the east of Rieger Gardens and presents an extraordinary and interesting example of a residential circus with a line of sight towards the Jiřího z Poděbrad Square and its dominant, the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Church. The Circus is named after the Czech composer, František Škroup, author of the music of "Kde domov můj" which later became the Czechoslovak and Czech national anthem. The place rests on an elevated plateau to the south of the Kubelíkova Street. The surrounding areas are characterised by buildings typical for Vinohrady in the forms of modern, more generous, regularly designed blocks consisting of modern, superior quality residential buildings. The inner courtyards are characteristic due to their regular, usually vacant areas sometimes intentionally planted with fully grown trees, shared by all the houses. The high-quality residential environment is enhanced by the tree-lined streets. 

Broader public became aware of the Circus in connection to the first officially permitted manifestation of opposition groups held on December 10, 1988.  The day was the 40th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The request for a permit for the demonstration was filed by five civil associations: Charta 77, Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted, Czech Children, Movement for Civil Liberties and the Independent Peace Association. Their original request for a manifestation at the Wenceslas Square was rejected by the District National Committee of Prague 1; the Committee of Prague 3 then permitted the gathering at Škroupa Circus. This was a tactical move required by foreign countries. On December 8 and 9, French President Franҫois Mitterrand visited Prague and invited Václav Havel and seven other dissidents for breakfast to the French Embassy at the Velkopřevorské Square where they discussed the situation in respecting human rights in Czechoslovakia on the eve of the Škroupa Circus demonstration.  On December 10, the gathering was opened at 3pm by the Czechoslovak national anthem. Afterwards, speeches were given by Václav Havel, who requested that political prisoners be released, Rudolf Battěk, who asked for the Communist Party government monopoly to be terminated, Petr Placák and others. Roughly seven hundred participants signed a petition demanding that the regime release political prisoners.  The manifestation was supervised by the Public Security and People’s Militia, and the participants were filmed by State Security officers. The event ended roughly at 4:30 pm without any violent conflicts with the security units. The subsequent Palach Week in January 1989 and a series of protest demonstrations ultimately led to the end of the totalitarian regime in Czechoslovakia in November 1989. The event is commemorated by a plaque on the right corner of the building facing the Blodkova Street, no. 1255/9.

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