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Provincial Maternity Hospital (Zemská porodnice)

At the time of its establishment from the year 1867 to 1875, it was considered to be the largest maternity hospital in Europe. The complex is built in the northern German neo-Gothic style from bright red unpainted bricks – it was believed that they were safer as regards the transmission of infection. After an extensive renovation at the end of the 20th century, the pavilions continue to serve as obstetrics, neonatal and gynaecological facilities of the highest European standard.

Provincial Maternity Hospital (Zemská porodnice), Apolinářská 18, Praha 2 - Nové Město, 120 00

Object history

Today's provincial maternity hospital had its predecessor in the near Apolinářská Street No. 4, in a Baroque building of the former canon house at St. Apollinaris, which was rebuilt in 1789 for a public maternal hospital. Anonymous births were administered here and there was even a home for lonely children where lonely and poor women could leave their children. At that time many women had died at childbirth on puerperal fever. In 1862 the Count Thun-Hohenstein decided to build the Royal Czech provincial maternal hospital offering a number of preventive health measures to reduce infections and their deadly consequences. The new modern hospital was built from 1867 to 1875 by the project of the architect Josef Hlávka, who also built the area with his construction company. At the command of the Provincial Committee the building had to be fair-faced brick unplastered, because it was believed to be safer in terms of transmission of infection. For the same reason, the sleeping area was separated from the street by a wall and the courtyard. The Na Větrově site was chosen, partly in the former Herzova garden and, paradoxically, where once the house named U Herodesa stood. Bricks made specifically for this project were bright red, so the building was also called the Red House or the Brickyard. To date, bricks have darkened considerably, and the building makes somewhat grim impression. The area of the hospital had a very modern pavilion system, which allowed the full segregation of departments if necessary. Considerable care was given here to the principles which prevent the sepsis. The area was also intended as a place where doctors and midwives would be educated. The first director of the maternal hospital was Antonín Jungmann, the brother of the linguist Josef Jungmann. Antonín Jungmann is considered the founder of Czech obstetrics school.

The complex was built in the northern German Neo-Gothic style, layout of the building is a square, four-wing core and has a rectangular courtyard. The system had a total of 11 pavilions tracts. Also two luxury secret compartments were established there with separate entrances directly from the street, where aristocratic and bourgeois daughters, who came unexpectedly pregnant, could give birth in secret. Gardens grounds are isolated from the external traffic. The main facade has three bays, the middle of which is extended by polygonal chapel oriel. The chapel has a three-part "diamond" vault, which lies in the middle column. It is decorated with paintings by Adolf Liebscher and Adolf Koerber. In the chapel there is the Hlávka statue larger than life, which was dedicated by the Foundation of Josef, Marie and Zdeňka Hlávkových to the Gynaecology and Obstetrics Clinic, which is housed in the building today. The gypsum sculpture with bronze patina by Josef Mařatka was unveiled in the year 1997. In the entrance hall there is a wooden statue of a pregnant woman in a life-size called Pregnancy by the sculptor Miroslav Černý.
Above the chapel oriel the tower resembling a high tent is rising that bears on the top an octagonal tower of neo-Gothic shapes topped with a cupola with tip. Ledges and some details on the facade are decorated with black and green glaze, whereas the footstall and tracery around windows are made of stone. Architect Hlávka failed to finish the project, as he collapsed due to a considerable exhaustion, was partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. The works were completed by the architect Čeněk Gregor, who often consulted works with Hlávka.
On 14 February 1945 the maternal hospital was partly affected by the bombing of Prague. For outstanding architectural value and significance in the history of medicine, the area was declared a cultural monument. In the late 1990s its gradual recovery was started, during which the hospital managed to combine modern medical standards and values of historic architecture.


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