- Latest additions
- About the project
- Maps and History
- Styles and Periods
- Further reading
During the years of the Second World War, however, Bubny represented the last view of home for the tens of thousands of victims of Nazi oppression who were deported to the concentration camp at Terezin (Theresienstadt), and thence in many cases to Auschwitz.
The first element of the project has already been put in place: a 60-foot section of railway track reaching to the skies by sculptor Aleš Veselý recalls the biblical story in which Jacob dreams of a ladder reaching to Heaven with 'angels of God ascending and descending on it'. Opened on 9 March 2015, the 71st anniversary of the last executions of Czech Jews at Auschwitz, it is also a potent symbol of the tragedy of the death camps.
In English, the sculpture is called 'The Gate of Infinity'. Its Czech name, 'Brána nenávratna', is much more telling: it means 'The Gate of No Return'.
Building commenced on the left bank, occupied today only by a range of domestic buildings and a surviving grand staircase in the baroque style. The original bathhouse went up in 1694, and this was followed in rapid succession by guesthouses, a theatre, a racetrack and bowling alley. A chateau was built for Špork's own use, with beautiful colonnades, mazes, and fountains that flowed with wine.
But within a generation, it was all over. A devastating flood in 1740 destroyed the count's elaborate fantasy; even the chateau was abandoned, eventually succumbing to fire before being demolished in 1901.
The church alone, with its floorplan modelled on a Greek cross, constitutes a remarkable overview of baroque style; but Aliprandi's plan offered more: a unique collection of 22 allegorical statues by the renowned Czech sculptor Matyáš Bernard Braun, eleven portraying personifications of virtue, eleven of vice. Originally placed on the terrace fronting the chapel, the originals have now been removed to a special gallery, and the outdoor statues replaced by copies.
The north side of the chateau is enclosed by a colonnade of classical statues by Matyáš Bernard Braun, while a double staircase by the Bavarian sculptor Franz Anton Kuen ascends to the first floor, decked out with lively groups of horses and hunting dogs. Among many later developments, the four wings which radiate diagonally from the central rotunda were extended in the 1750s.
These included the Empress Maria Theresa, who in 1754 attended the Great Trade Fair of the Czech Kingdom - the first of its kind in the world - held at Veltrusy to show off the workmanship of Bohemia to an international clientele.
Initially, a small memorial chapel was erected near the battlefield, but it was badly damaged during the invasion of the Protestant Swedes in 1634, and by the end of the reign of Leopold I was already dilapidated.
In 1704 the chapel was rebuilt by the Bavarian mason Michael Hagen. Subsequently, Hagen's son-in-law Heinrich Klinegleitner, aided by the local Prague painter and architect Christian Luna, conceived a much grander plan involving further side chapels linked with a series of cloisters and interconnecting wings.
In 1785, the pilgrimage site was abolished as part of Joseph II's political balancing act the Edict of Tolerance; it was restored again only at the start of the 19th century. The mid-twentieth century led to several changes of use: the complex was used by the Luftwaffe to house an anti-aircraft battery; later the communists used the neighbouring farm-buildings - though not the church - as a base for wire-tapping. Since 1989 the church has been under the care of the local Benedictine order, with a community of nuns living there since 2007.
Despite its early idealism, Sokol became strongly associated with the struggle for independence from Austro-Hungary; and ensuing governments, fearful of the popularity of an unofficial Czech army, banned (or, in the case of both the Nazis and the Communists) forcibly suppressed membership of Sokol. Ironically, the famous Spartakiada, mass gymnastic displays that we associate with the communist years, were simply rebranded versions of existing displays mounted by Sokol.
Between 1863 and 1948, 1200 'sokolovny' were built throughout the country, to service a membership that before the Second World War numbered 630,000. There had been an early Sokol centre in Riegrovy sady in Vinohrady at the end of the nineteenth century, but it was in 1938 that František Marek, Václav Vejrych and Zbyněk Jirsák came up with the design for this extensive building in the functionalist style - its tall rectilinear columns giving a modernist twist to the ideal of a classical colonnade.
In 1941, the building was commandeered by the SS as a sports centre, and after the Second World War it became a military hospital and repatriation centre for returning Czech soldiers. Today the Vinohrady Sokol has reverted to its intended use, offering facilities for community sports and leisure activities.
In Liberec, this narrow lane near the main square has three intact half-timbered facades. Built between 1678 and 1681, the so-called 'Waldstein houses' were at one time homes of textile workers. The name alludes to the fact that earlier houses on the same plan had been developed by Albrecht von Waldstein to supply his army with clothing during the Thirty Years' War.
An attempt to restore the buildings in the 1950s failed when the rears of the houses collapsed; and they were finally preserved only when the local school of engineering proposed retaining the frontages as part of a planned development of accommodation.