National Avenue (Narodni)

National Avenue (Narodni) (54)

Between the church of Our Lady of the Snows and the Vltava runs the National Avenue, a lively and crowded street full of corners packed with history.

The National Avenue was opened in 1781 over what was previously Prague’s defensive moat. The first name of this street was Ferdinandstrasse, in German, but also take note of its name in Czech, which is Národní Trída.

This avenue, situated on the border between the Old and New towns, was the favourite street of Prague’s bourgeoisie in the 19th and early 20th centuries. This is where the upper-class ladies and gentlemen came to see and be seen as well as do their shopping and gossip about the latest rumours about the city’s high society. In its prestigious cafés, the chats of the writers were only occasionally interrupted in order to go and see one of the theatrical performances in the area.

In the National Avenue you will be able to visit the church of Saint Ursula, a lovely Baroque temple built at the beginning of the 18th century by Marcantonio Canevale. Next to the entrance there is a sculptural series about Saint John Nepomucene, produced by Ignaz Franz Platzer.

This temple belongs to the convent of Ursuline nuns, created by the same author some three decades earlier. It is a particularly well-lit and spacious church. It features Baroque paintings in the altars and “The Assumption of the Virgin”, a Baroque painting by Peter Brandl. There are also some statues by Frantisek Preiss, such as the one of Saint Jude Thaddeus and those of the high altar. 

Once you have visited the church and, above all, if you are a good wine lover, make sure you visit the Convent Restaurant.

The big Tesco supermarket provides the modern note to the National Avenue with its reinforced concrete structure and aluminium and glass panels. The building was erected in 1970 by Sial 02, a group of architects formed by Miroslav Masák, Johnny Eisler and Martin Rajnis. The property was acquired by the European Tesco company after the Velvet Revolution in 1989.

Opposite the Tesco store, the children’s publisher Albatros today houses a savings bank. There used to be a neo-classical building here that housed the Café Union. It was here where artists and scientists from the early 20th century held their discussions and meetings.

The constructions of numbers 7 and 9 of the National Avenue are the work of the architect Osval Polívka. The former Prague Insurances, at number 7, it was a commission of the insurance company for which Polívka produced a building in secession style. On the façade you can see sculptures by Ladislav Saloun that represent the three ages of man.

In 1901 Osval Polívka was responsible for the Topic House at number 9 of the street. This property belonged to a famous publisher who published the top European authors from the early 20th century.

In 1730, at number 16, the architect Kanka created the Baroque building that carries his name. Its beautiful façade with stucco ornaments boasts a black plaque that recalls the demonstration that led to the Velvet Revolution at the end of 1989. As you can see, nearly everything in this street has something to do with the history of Prague.

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