Chotek Gardens (Chotkovy sady)
The first public urban park in Prague (founded in 1832), it spreads out under the Summer Palace of Queen Anne. This wooded park in the English style, in which more than 55 species of trees grow, hides among other things a unique monument to Julie Zeyer in the form of a cave in which are placed marble statues representing characters from the poet's works. The gardens are connected with the Royal Garden and the Letna Gardens by a modern footbridge.
The first municipal public park in Prague stretching under the Queen Anna’s Summerhouse (Letohrádek královny Anny) between the Mariánské hradby Street and Chotek Road (Chotkova silnice) has an area of 3.7 hectares. In the 14th and 15th centuries there were a number of vineyards and pastures, in the 17th century the premises were used as an economic base of the Prague Castle, especially for storing timber, fuel wood and hay. Various games, equestrian competitions, knight tournaments, etc. used to be held there.
When Count Karel Chotek joined the head of provincial administration as a highest burgrave, he contributed to an extensive modernization and beautification of Prague by planting the greenery. Therefore in 1832 he also founded the oldest public park in the eastern part of the Royal Garden (Královská zahrada) near the Queen Anna’s Summerhouse. It was a park in English style, originally called the Municipal or People’s Garden (Obecní or Lidová zahrada) and in 1841 ceremonially named as Chotek Gardens (Chotkovy sady) after its founder. The author of the project was probably Josef Fuchs, all work was lead by an experienced gardener Jiří Baul. The foundation of the park followed after the construction of the Chotek Road in the years 1831 and 1832 that connected the Lesser Town with the Mariánské City Walls (Mariánské hradby) and replaced an old, very steep path called the Mouse Hole (Myší díra). It was the first park administered by the Prague Municipality and this management began in 1859. At the end of the 19th century the landscape architect František Thomayer (a brother of the well-known doctor Josef Thomayer) carried out a partial reconstruction of the park and he had a pond created in the eastern part of the gardens.
A memorial to Julius Zeyer was unveiled behind the pond in 1913. The memorial was designed by sculptor Josef Mauder and it is created as a cave with marble statues depicting characters from poet’s works. Except this memorial there is a statue of Pomona by Břetislav Benda in the park, placed there in 1960. In a bend of Chotek Street there is a Bohemian lion resting on a high pedestal, which is a sculpture by Josef Max from the middle of the 19th century.
About 55 species of woody plants grow in the gardens, among them massive poplars, plane trees, oaks, hornbeams and others. To the right of the park entrance from Chotek Road there is a memorial stone dated 4th November 1841 with the inscription “Chotkova silnice - Chotkovy sady”. In the 60s of the 20th century, a footbridge was built connecting the Letná Gardens (Letenské sady) with Chotek Gardens according to the design by architect Jaroslav Fragner. Since 1997 the gardens have been administered by the Prague Castle and they have been interconnected with the Royal Garden. In 1998 the Fragner’s footbridge was replaced by a new bridge designed by architect Bořek Šípek thanks to the care of the Foundation of Václav and Olga Havel (Nadace Václava a Olgy Havlových).