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Prokop (Prokopovo) Square

One of the traditional centres of business and social activity has held its name since 1872. There was a market for many decades; even Jaroslav Hašek who lived in Žižkov after WWI had memories of shopping there. Allegedly the marketeers loved him as he would buy even damaged vegetables. Until 1890, the Žižkov town office resided in the house of Prokop the Great built by Karel Hartig in 1876 for the Citizen’s Savings Bank. However, the initial seat of the Town Office was on Vítkova no. 554 (today’s Pod Vítkovem Street). The Three Crowns House at the Prokopovo Square also accommodated the first post office in Žižkov from 1872. One of the oldest music schools was there, in no. 4 in the Square - L. Bubeníčkova’s school. Today, there is an equestrian statue commemorating Jaroslav Hašek by Karel Nepraš in the centre of the Square.

The first impetus to build a Jan Žižka monument in Žižkov came from Karel Hartig in 1872. According to the press, the monument designed by F. Heidelberger was to look like this: a base of almost 4 metres with a larger-than-life statue (approx. 2.5 m) of the military leader made of Nehvizdy sandstone in the Square. Žižka would be in full armour, holding a mace pointed towards Vítkov.  
The plaster model of the statue was completed and ceremoniously presented on March 6, 1875 in the community room of the Civic Association (Občanská beseda) in the Prokop the Great Inn (no. 220). However, the ground was never broken, and Heidelberg’s statue was never installed anywhere.  

Jaroslav Hašek
The writer, Jaroslav Hašek (1883–1923), got together with Czech anarchists and adopted a bohemian lifestyle shortly after his secondary school graduation. His activities resulted in the founding of the anarchist Party of Moderate Progress within the Bounds of the Law in 1911. His right-wing affiliation was swapped for his membership in the left-wing Czechoslovak Social Democratic Workers’ Party in 1918; this was preceded by his collaboration with the Bolsheviks after the 1917 Russian coup. When  Hašek returned to Prague in 1920 he found temporary shelter in Franta Sauer’s flat in Žižkov’s Jeronýmova Street. He frequented various Prague pubs where he wrote his short stories. Shortly afterwards, he left for Lipnice nad Sázavou, where he wrote The Good Soldier Švejk. His departure from Prague was expedited by the fact that the instability of his political stances and his earlier collaboration with the Bolsheviks made him a lot of enemies all round. He ended up lonely, often unwelcome in Prague. 

The writer and Legion General Rudolf Medek who fought against the Bolsheviks addressed him at a later meeting in Prague: “Hašek, had we caught you, I would have had you shot.”  Karel Toman, the poet, refused to shake his hand when they met at the Petřík wine bar, saying he was a traitor,  and another poet, S. K. Neumann, called him a traitor of the revolution of the proletariat. Hašek died in Lipnice in January 1923. His favourite place was the U Kamenáče pub opened in Husova Street opposite a Bata shop in 1921 by his friend and companion, landlord Karel Šnor.

Franta Sauer
Hašek had a friend, a likeable joker and quirky rebel, Franta Sauer (1882–1947, official name František Kysela). He was born in Žižkov’s Dalimilova Street; he was entirely distinctive, never afraid to say what he meant or felt. His memoirs in the book Franta Habán of Žižkov depict the “post-revolution” events primarily in Žižkov, together with chapters on his meetings with Hašek or the first edition of Švejk whose publisher in Žižkov was Sauer’s uncle. The humour of the novel metamorphoses to social satire – which was the thing he had in common with the similarly “naughty” Hašek.

The Marian Column
Immediately after the coup, on November 3, 1918, Franta Sauer led a group that pulled down the Marian Column in the Old Town Square. It was understood as a symbol of the Habsburg subjugation. The column was taken down by the Žižkov fire brigade and local activists. It was just another expression of the unique nature of Žižkov and its people. “I believe it is scandalous to leave this column of shame standing at the time of revolution; we would do well, since there are so many of us, to remove the column”. This never meant destroying a Christian symbol – Virgin Mary: “…what could happen to her? We’ll put her on the ground carefully, and pour sand on the spot where she’d rest to make it soft for her…” (F. Sauer, Franta Habán of Žižkov)

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