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The Jiřího z Poděbrad Square

Location: Jiřího z Poděbrad Square, southern part, in front of the church at the edge of the green 

The Vinohrady metropolitan district draws its name from the mediaeval vineyards which covered the south-western slopes behind the city walls above the Horse market (present Wenceslas Square). It is situated to the east of the New Town, borders on Žižkov to the north, on Strašnice to the east, on Vršovice to the south and on Nusle to the south-west. Vinohrady was an independent town under the name of Viničné Hory (Vineyard Hills) from 1788 and was renamed Královské Vinohrady (Royal Vineyards) in 1867. Until 1875, it included the Žižkov territory; the town was divided into two parts named Královské Vinohrady I. (later to become Žižkov) and Královské Vinohrady II. which assumed the original name Královské Vinohrady after 1877, when Královské Vinohrady I. officially became Žižkov. In 1879, Královské Vinohrady became a city, and remained one until 1922 when it joined the so-called Greater Prague. Until 1949, it formed an independent city district, namely Prague XII, and in 1949 it was divided into two and then, in 1960, into five districts. At the same time, the western part became the centre of a new Prague 2 district. Since 1960, the district is called simply Vinohrady.

The Jiřího z Poděbrad Square (originally King George Square, Náměstí krále Jiřího) is situated in Vinohrady, in its part belonging to the Prague 3 metropolitan district. It is named after the Czech king George of Poděbrady. The square is dominated by the Roman Catholic parish church of the Sacred Heart of Our Lord. The growing Vinohrady had to address the lack of sacral venues for Catholic churchgoers even soon after completion of the first parochial church of St. Ludmila (at náměstí Míru) at the end of the 19th century. A temporary solution was found when the St. Alois chapel consecrated late in 1913 in the new school building in the square was used. An architectural tender was announced in 1919 which called for the church as well as an urban concept for the square. In the end, the church project was assigned directly to the Slovenian architect, Josip Plečnik, and completed with the participation of his pupil and friend, Otto Rothmayer. The first sacral building of the independent Czechoslovakia was thus built in 1928 to 1932. The architect was inspired by the roots of Christianity, old Christian liturgy and its symbolism, which he connected with purely Czech elements referring to the days of Charles IV. The façade with the protruding rocks symbolises the royal ermine, the onion dome at the top of the tower, the apple with the cross all refer to Jesus Christ the Sovereign. The wide main church nave, 42 metres tall and filled with a unique ramp, is home to a round clock of a 7.5 m diameter – the country’s biggest clock. The single-nave space with walls of bare bricks decorated with golden crosses culminates towards a wooden coffered ceiling.  The nave is dominated by a gilded statue of Jesus Christ of linden wood by Damian Pešan.  The windows are decorated with a motif of the Heart of Our Lord designed by Karel Svolinský. In the basement, there is a vault the construction of which used reclaimed material from the demolitions at the Prague Castle area during the reconstruction for President T.G.Masaryk. A new altar was installed in the church in 2018. It was made by sculptor Petr Váňa out of a single piece of white Carrara marble to a design by architects Josef Pleskot and Norbert Schmidt, and placed in the geometric centre of the building. In 2010, the church was declared a National Cultural Heritage item, and it was considered for listing in the nominations for the UNESCO World Heritage list.  

Another distinctive element of the square is the United Europe fountain by Petr Šedivý, and a massive metro ventilator by the same sculptor. There is a line A metro station, Jiřího z Poděbrad, in the square. The metro was designed for here already in the 1930’s by ing. Belada. In the Vinohradská Street at the southern part of the square, in the yard of building no. 76/78, there is a remarkable building of the prayer house of the Baptist Union in the Czech Republic, built to the design by architect Bohumír Kozák in 1921.

The Jiřího z Poděbrad Square is a popular meeting place; Prague 3 organises regular farmers’ markets and traditional cultural events and occasions (Vinohrady wine festival, Žižkov Masopust Carnival).

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