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Climbing Vítkov

Location: Tachovské Square – edge of the grassy area

One of the starting points of the journey up the Vítkov Hill is the Tachovské Square which commemorates the Hussites’ victory near Tachov in 1427 where they defeated the 3rd Crusade armies. From the west, the Husitská Street opens into the Square and continues eastwards as Koněvova which then runs on for several kilometres to the very edge of not only Žižkov but even of Prague 3. One may take the Žižkov tunnel from the Tachovské Square and walk to Karlín (Prague 8), or climb up to Vítkov along a path flanked by hints of vineyards established here by the 1358 order of Charles IV. One of those was owned by Vítek of Hora; this gave name to the distinctive, elongated hill on the right bank of the river. The mass of the hill divides the quarters of Karlín from Žižkov while it is a part of the Žižkov cadastral territory. It runs up to 270.4 m above sea level. 
Originally, there was a forest all over the hill which was later superseded by vineyards. In the memorable battle of Vítkov on July 14, 1420, Jan Žižka of Trocnov and his troupes on the fortified hill were outnumbered by the crusaders. Thanks to the strategic position on a narrow hill, he managed to drive the attackers away and Zikmund of Luxembourg’s first crusade failed. The hill has been called Žižkov or Žižka’s mountain or Žižkaperk since then, too. The local vineyards suffered considerably during the 30 years’ war; after 1757, when the Prussian units arrived, the hill remained absolutely bare. In 1824, Vítkov was planted with fruit trees which were cultivated as the municipal orchards towards the end of the 19th century. One of the cornerstones of the National Theatre came from Vítkov. The quartzite block was extracted not far from the lookout pavilion whose position was assumed to be central to Žižka’s victorious battle. The block was inscribed “Žižkov” and carried a dedication “To the nation’s youngest guard, from the oldest one” on a white board. Vítkov accommodates the functionalist building of the National Memorial and Army Museum with the Institute of Military History from the turn of the 1920’s and 1930’s, the equestrian statue of Jan Žižka by Bohumil Kafka from 1950, and a lookout pavilion. A visit to Vítkov offers not only a pleasant walk but also an interesting view of Prague’s panorama and centre; last but not least, the exhibits of the aforementioned institutions provide a lesson in the history of Czechoslovak statehood and military matters.

The subtle square has only been called Tachovské since 1958. Southwards, the Chlumova Street connects it with the Prokopovo Square. The longer sides are lined by residential blocks, both buildings on the south corners have ground floor restaurants. The Slavic Linden Tree Inn, with its First Republic décor, is probably the oldest venue in Žižkov whose history goes back to at least the 19th century. 

The northern side of the Square opens to the mouth of the Žižkov tunnel, accessible to pedestrians and cyclists only, which runs through the Vítkov Hill to the Thámova Street in Karlín. It is approximately 300 m long and was built in 1950 to 1953. It was intended to work as a bomb shelter as well. The Square used to have the municipal scale with a little house which was demolished during the construction of the tunnel. One of Prague’s first power stations, designed and equipped by František Křižík, was commissioned in 1889 and operated until 1926 not far from the Square.  
The listed building with the allegoric figure of a man, situated at the corner of the Chlumova Street, is worth attention – it is the building of the Prague Municipal Savings Bank which underwent functionalist reconstruction to the design of Leo Lauermann back in 1937. Not far from the Square, on the right hand side of Koněvova Street facing outwards, there are the remains of the ex-market building and the Sokol gym of Žižkov (Koněvova Street no. 929/19). 

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