Friday, 28 April 2017

Hidden Prague #3 - Franciscan Gardens

Continuing with the theme of hidden Prague, there are few substantial places more hidden in plain sight than the Franciscan Garden (Františkánská zahrada) which sits betweenWenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí) and Jungmannovo náměstí, in the shadow of the Church of the Virgin Mary of the Snow.
Franciscan Gardens and Church of the Virgin Mary of the Snow
It was originally a much larger medieval garden of the Carmelite Monastery established around 1348 at the time of the main development of the New Town (Nové Město). After 1604 it became the property of the Franciscans Order. The garden was opened to the public when the Franciscans were expelled by the communists in 1950.

Between 1989 and 1992, the garden was reconstructed by the architects Josef Kuča and Ivana Tichá, and new sculptures were added by Stanislav Hanzík and Josef Klimeš. The monastery and gardens were returned to the Franciscans as part of the restitution of property following the Velvet Revolution.

What strikes you on entering the garden is the peace and quiet compared to the hustle and bustle of one of the busiest parts of the city. In the spring and summer especially there is a blaze of colour, subtle smells of blossom, herbs and spices, and the gentle buzzing of bees. It's a great place to rest your feet, have a bite of lunch and sit and ponder or meditate for a moment or two before setting off on the next part of your adventure and hitting the busy streets once again.

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