He graduated from the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the Czech Technical University in Prague, majoring in architecture and urban planning. Since 2011 he has been working as an architect and designer.
Architect Petr Kučera.
The laser pointer flies over the circular map of the wider center of Prague, on which history is projected. “There is nothing similar in Prague,” says architect Petr Kučera, who accompanies a thematic lecture every month at the Cihelná brána in Vyšehrad. Over a thousand years old roads leading to the fords on the Vltava and the oldest fortifications appear.
What starts Prague in your unique concept?
The model is off, at first only the river to which the roads lead is lit. The first fords were located outside it in the Dejvice-Bubeneč basin, where the oldest permanent settlement, a kind of pra-Prague, was located. The places where people could easily cross the river were key to the development of the settlement. Our map occupies the city center and adjacent districts such as Karlín, Vinohrady, Vršovice. It is such an imaginary boiler in which Prague is brewing. We see where merchant settlements appeared, which gradually merged into individually fortified cities. We are finishing nowadays.
Does the first Prague Castle or Vyšehrad appear on the map?
Prague Castle first appears, records of it are older, although historically it is formerly documented Vyšehrad. We start with Prague Castle, because it played a key role in the development of the city, precisely because the fords were under it. This is where the first core of the settlement originated, in the suburbs. Below Vyšehrad, which guarded the access from the south, the Vltava was wild.
And when does Prague Castle appear on the map?
The location of today’s Prague Castle has come to life significantly since the 9th century. The rocky hill was then called Opyš, to this day there is also Na Opyši Street. The highest point was the sacred hill Žiži, which served as a cult place in pagan times. First, a fort, which was called Prague, was built here. According to him, the city of Prague was then called. It is interesting that the name of the city was given to Prague Castle.
Was there another castle? Maybe Devin?
This is mythology. At that time, Prague had two mentioned castles, which is why the settlement was also called Mezigrady, ie Mezihhrad. However, there were a number of separate fortified areas. For example, on the bridgehead of Judith’s Bridge, which was the forerunner of Charles, there was a command of the Knights of Malta of their own administration, and across the road lay a fortified episcopal court, from which a gate remained. The fortified Ungelt or Týnský dvůr became the station of international trade, in front of which the Old Town Square was formed. And there was another independently fortified courtyard in Poříčí. In addition, Prague had a fortified bridge, because Judith’s Bridge had two towers with gates.
We are in the 12th century.
Yes. And there were no city walls around the bridge. These were simply the gates to the bridge.
How did you get into the project at Vyšehrad?
Like blind to the violin. The exposition in the Brick Gate in Vyšehrad, which has been there since the 1980s, has changed. The creators of the architectural studio H3T wanted to do it in a modern, audiovisual, light-hearted way. I was approached after last year’s exhibition of large-format photographs The Story of Wenceslas Square, which took place directly on Wenceslas Square, to help with its content. Maybe even redraw the walls into a computer. Similar projections exist in the West, for example, London has a very nice screening of history. Although true, there is much more expensive.
It was probably not always easy, just dating Prague Castle and Vyšehrad is enough.
The creators originally collaborated with historians. But historians are forged experts who are not friends of acronyms and where it is not clear, they leave a white area. We needed the history of Prague to be understood by lay people. That’s why I was invited, I’m not a historian, but I have an overview. My source was mainly old books. True, it is four times different in ten books. It is there that the historian says that it is not certain and it should not be shown. But I have to place the walls somewhere. Fortunately, with the size of the map, the walls of the street next to the lost have shifted. Of course, I consulted with historians and most of them are well documented.
What surprised you in getting the information?
The first was the Old Town of Prague at the beginning of the 13th century. And it is interesting that a free area was defined within it, where the first city founded in a planned manner, namely Havelské Město. By the way, it was founded for the North German colonists, as well as later the Lesser Town for the South German colonists. The new founding cities were simply for the Germans, not the Czechs. The Czech population was expelled from here. So the bearers of our culture came from the West at this time. It occurs to me that under the influence of the sad Czech-German history of the 20th century, we are somewhat neglecting the former German influence on the development of Prague. Secondly, I was surprised that Prague, with its complex system of walls, was almost always able to open its gates in time as a clever burner when attacked in the past. For example, Empress Maria Theresa could not forgive us for opening the gates twice in this way only during her reign. Well, let’s not be evil, she fought against the Hussites or during the Thirty Years’ War…