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The Žižkov Freight Yard

Location: park on the Jana Želivského Street opposite the Yard

The Praha-Žižkov Freight Yard is the largest Functionalist industrial venue in Prague still in existence; its extraordinary area dominates the territory on the line between Žižkov and Strašnice. The premises are situated at the eastern side of the Jana Želivského Street, at the end of a single track freight line, a siding from Malešice whose construction the State Railway commenced in 1928. The Žižkov reception yard was supposed to become the first component in a generous design of the municipal railway node remodelling. The design concept was created by Ing. Miroslav Chlumecký. The land for the intended yard, amounting to a grand total of 330,000 sqm, was located beneath the Jewish Ovens ridge at the spot of the Červený Dvůr (Red Farmstead), historic homestead Direktorka and the neighbouring farmstead, Vápenka. They had the advantage of easy access from the centre. The mass scale buildings of the yard, intended primarily for food transport and storage, were designed by Dr. Ing. Karel Caivas and Ing. arch. Vladimír Weiss. This outstanding railway project was remarkable due to its unique concept, a combination of the main building with storage levels on both sides of the tracks, and state-of-the-art technical equipment. The most important construction companies and industrial enterprises of the time participated in its completion. Construction work commenced in 1928, all of the tracks had been completed by 1934 when the office building was just being finished, and regular operation started in March 1936. The storage capacity was soon used up; therefore, it was extended in 1942, and that defined the final shape of the Yard. In the second half of the 20th century, its importance for transport kept gradually diminishing, and regular operation was officially terminated in 2002 with the validity of train entry permit expiring in 2010.

Complicated negotiations took place in 2005–2013; as a result, the main buildings in the Yard were declared points of cultural heritage in March 2013. The buildings covered by conservation protection constitute a U-shaped group, wherein the long axis extends the line of the Olšanská Street. The three-storey office building with a curtain façade of clinker tiles is flanked, on both sides of the tracks, by two wings of two-storey warehouses. There are sheltered ramps along the ground level – for railway carriages on the inner side, for trucks on the outer side. Both wings are interconnected both on basement level and by steel bridges above the tracks.

With respect to the importance of the Freight Yard for city supplies, the Prague Regulation Plan included wide roads to Žižkov and Vinohrady. Their completion was partly funded by the State Railway Administration. The direct link, i.e. Olšanská, connected to the Táboritská Street, and the Jana Želivského Avenue ran along the Yard. The Avenue originated in 1930 as Mladoňovicova and renamed to Jana Želivského in 1951, after the Hussite preacher and representative of the radical Hussite movement, a leader of the 1419 Prague Defenestration. The Avenue measures 1350 m. It starts at the Ohrada junction from which it runs southwards, crossing the elliptical circus Basilejské náměstí, running along the Žižkov Freight Yard, between two parts of the Olšany Cemeteries and along the western wall of the New Jewish Cemetery. It ends at the junction near the Želivského metro station where the Vinohradská Street runs across it west-to-east, and it continues on the other side of the junction under the name Votická.

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