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Art Nouveau under the Holy Cross Hill

Location: Jeseniova Street, corner opposite the Church of St. Anna 

Art Nouveau touched Žižkov with a handful of significant buildings including e.g. apartment blocks in the Husitská Street, or the National Building (Theatrino Hotel) at Bořivojova Street. However, the Church of St. Anna, amidst the low-rise prefab houses, with its ex-Carmelite monastery is a sacred Art Nouveau jewel of not just Žižkov – but of Prague as a whole. It is a remarkable building from the late Art Nouveau period with a number of novel, geometric features and elements of the Beuron Art style. It was built to the design of architect Eduard Sochor and consecrated on October 8, 1911. A Carmelite monastery was adjoined in 1916, its own building (no. 1268) being built to the design of builder Antonín Procházka in the same year. The monastery ceased to exist rather soon afterwards in 1922. The House of the Order was converted to a parish building in 1923 and the previous monastery premises adapted to flats. Together with the adjoining monastery, the Church has enjoyed protection as cultural heritage since 2002. The Church does not have the classic orientation; it faces east towards the Tovačovského Street while the presbytery is on the west side. There is a tiny belfry above the tent-shaped roof near the building front. The interior breakup of the nave space is facilitated by remarkable murals of primarily decorative nature, loosely linked to the Beuron Art School of the Emmaus Monastery. The church furnishings as such are of various styles. The St. Joseph altar dates back to the origin of the Church while other parts have been transferred hereto from other, earlier church buildings no longer in existence. The best pieces include the early Baroque St. Anna altar (dating back to approx. 1700) in the left nave, the pulpit from mid-1700 and other equipment, including Baroque pews. There are also several paintings from early 18th century along the matroneum, even from the wider circle influenced by Škréta. Nowadays, the church is absolutely encircled by prefab buildings; it is one of the few buildings that survived the 1970’s razing and renovation. It is the filial church of the Roman Catholic parish of the St. Procopius Church. 

From the flank, there is a good view of the buildings opposite, at the foot of the Holy Cross Hill also called the Parukářka after homestead no. 39 which was situated right next to the Jeseniova Street and is no longer in existence. In 1825, Sellier and Bellot built a plant, later a factory, producing percussion caps and ammunition – the biggest industrial venue in Žižkov for many years, and one of the most important industrial complexes in the territory classified as Prague 3 nowadays. The location was originally selected for its remoteness from built areas at the time. The hazardous production sections, i.e. loading, were buried in the basements. The factory called the Kapslovna, the Caps Plant first manufactured percussion caps for hunting, then for military ammunition; 1827 brought the production of white gunpowder caps while detonators for the new Nobel “Dynamite” plant in Zámky near Prague were made from 1871 on.  The production of detonators for the Škoda ammunition factory in Plzeň – Bolevec started in 1890. Towards the end of the 19th century, the factory was reconstructed and extensively modernised. State-of-the-art safety precautions were introduced; any premises with explosion hazard were put in bulwarks. The factory boasted impressive production figures, it made up to 60 million caps per year, which were sold mainly to Austria. Any further development was prevented by the expanding residential housing which reached the proximity of the Caps Plant. After several dangerous explosions, the production was relocated to Vlašim. This plant, so famous in its day, is commemorated by the chimney amongst the New Era buildings, and the name of the Kapslovna Biathlon Club. The deserted venue housed a motorcycle, then a car repair shop. Nowadays, there are offices of various small companies there, and some parts have been converted to apartments.  There is one other building associated with the old Caps Plant at the corner of Jeseniova 53 and Koldínova 1: the corporate office of the Sellier and Bellot arms manufacturer from 1925. The front is in the Art Déco style with distinctively marked polygonal bay windows. Although the author of the design is unknown, the building was completed by the biggest Prague construction company of its time, owned by Václav Nekvasil.