Troja – textbook of architecture and a fun neighbourhood
The Prague city district of Troja, located at the northern edge of the metropolis, stands out distinctively among Prague’s other districts. Gracefully curled between the flow of the Vltava River and the steep slopes of the Bohnice plateau, its hallmark prestigious addresses with sumptuous mansions blend in with relaxed rural scenery. Bearing in mind the three tourist attractions there, you can pleasantly spend a full day in Troja, or even a weekend. Seriously? Why, just let us take you on a little excursion…
Today’s Troja is steeped in history. The original modest village on the right bank of the Vltava River bore the name of Zadní or Horní Ovenec, named after a sizeable sheep farm there at the time. During the reign of Charles IV, the local slopes rapidly became vineyards. This meritorious pursuit has stayed with the locals to the present day and the vineyard trails – sensitively intermingling with housing — came to typify Troja. Until the end of the Thirty Years’ War, this future residential zone featured only detached homesteads, mills, fishing hamlets and granges. The turning point came in 1678, when count Václav Vojtěch of Sternberg built a Baroque château on some of his land, with a magnificent imperial staircase and spectacular sculptures and frescoes for decoration. Still, architecturally speaking, this is not so much a château as a stately home, a majestic villa in the Italian tradition. In any case, it is one of the most significant Baroque heritage sites in Prague, a stylistic gem uncommon in our part of the world. Troja Château is enveloped by a vast French garden park, leading the eye along distinct axial lines with geometric precision, here and there bringing unexpected vistas of the grounds. The adjacent eastern section is a natural labyrinth with hedges of hornbeam and water obstacles. The château complex is managed by the Prague City Gallery, as an exhibition, concert, cultural and social event venue.
Staying with architecture a little longer, the second big feature to note is an exceptional set of elegant villas that have progressively grown up in this area from the early 20th century, when Troja became the preferred residential area for wealthy entrepreneurs, artists and diplomats. They soon grasped that the complex local terrain precluded urbanization with broad boulevards and city squares, and instead would keep its peaceful rural atmosphere with scattered houses and villas. Among the most prized homes for us to admire are a neo-Baroque villa by the Austrian architect Friedrich Ohmann (Nad Kazankou 7), the Constructivist family house from 1932 (Nádvorní 1) or two pearls of Functionalism – villas named Divišova (Trojská 134) and Schückova (Nad Kazankou 39). Also deserving of your attention are more recent buildings, such as the 1960s home of the famous Czech Olympians – the Zátopek couple (Nad Kazankou 3) or the then pioneering villa of the renowned film director Věra Chytilová, built in the repressive 1970s (Pod Havránkou 22). All the aforementioned are in private hands, not accessible, but modern architecture lovers can feast their eyes on the exteriors.
When we speak of Troja, most Prague residents will think of Prague Zoo. And no wonder – Prague Zoo regularly places among the three most visited tourist destinations in the Czech Republic (in 2018 over 1.4 million visitors passed through its gates) and wins top accolades against strong competition from the world’s zoological gardens. Its popularity is in large part due to the diversity of its animals and varied terrain that offers up to 10 km of walks through exotic scapes, including the African Savanna, the Hippo House, the Gorilla Pavilion, the Indonesian Jungle, the Bird Wet Lands, or the Valley of the Elephants. The Zoo setting has very family-friendly infrastructure and facilities as well as awareness-raising events; popular attractions include a chairlift that connects the lower and upper part of the gardens, a viewing tower in the western end of the complex or the Bororo Reservation – an exceptional leisure and play zone for younger visitors. As for the events programme, the most popular tend to be the guided feeding times and evening tours. Among the several eateries in the grounds is the completely renovated high-capacity Gaston restaurant with its grill bar, pastry shop and souvenir shop.
Another area of greenery in Troja is the Prague Botanical Garden. This oasis of peace spanning the scenic hillside is ideal for a quiet walk, relaxation or a family outing. Away from the bustle of the city, feel the invigorating power of nature, in large indoor and outdoor display areas showing 20,000 plant species. Take some cool shade from the summer sun in the northern forests, meditate in the Japanese garden or have a perfect picnic surrounded by colourful flowers in the Ornamental garden. The uniquely designed Fata Morgana glasshouse, faithfully simulating lush jungle with its exotic flora is a world apart. Spread out just beneath the Baroque chapel are the vineyards of St Clara, among the largest in the metropolis. At the vintners’ house and its terraces you can get local wine to taste or buy, sustainably produced right in the cellars beneath the vineyard, and enjoy magnificent views of Prague, glass in hand. Indeed, the wine cellar setting is ideal for private or corporate parties.
Finally, let us advise that all three of the area’s popular attractions – the Zoo, Botanical gardens and the Troja Château – are conveniently accessible with the all-in Troja card. It is valid from April to September, and can be bought at any of the three institutions’ ticket offices.
Entertainment and sports:
Prague White Water Centre
Vodácká 8, Prague 7 – Troja | www.vodackyareal.cz
The Troja slalom watercourse is the Vltava River venue for canoeing and rafting. The training course of (not only) the Czech canoeing team also periodically hosts prestigious canoe slalom races, including European and World championships. Amateur enthusiasts can try the adrenalin-pumping course in the season, under professional guidance.
Vltavská Cycling Path #7
The popular Troja 45 km long ‘cycle freeway’ to the North starts from the Vltava riverbank and heads via Klecany – Kralupy nad Vltavou – Veltrusy château – to Mělník. This popular cycleway, surfaced almost entirely with quality asphalt, is also much favoured by in-line skaters.
Horse and Pony Riding School
Prague 7 – Bubeneč, Císařský ostrov | www.jezdeckaskolapraha7.cz
This learning centre with a riding hall and outdoor riding school provides comprehensive horseback riding tuition for children and adults. Much liked are the horseback rides to Stromovka Park, with its designated riding trails.
The Wharf at Císařský ostrov/island (navigable canal)
Prague 7 – Bubeneč, Císařský ostrov | www.paroplavba.cz
Regular two-way cruises between downtown Prague (Rašínovo embankment or Čechův bridge) and this ‘Imperial’ island are a great experience and a popular tourist attraction.
Royal Game Reserve – Stromovka park
Prague 7 – Bubeneč | www.prague.eu
An oasis of peace and relaxation, an island of greenery in the midst of a noisy metropolis, Prague’s largest park. This large and recently revitalised site of some 100 hectares (250 acres) is dotted with ponds and other water features. The dominant feature of the Park is the romantic building of the Governor’s Summer House and Šlechtova restaurant, the former 17th century Royal Hall, due to reopen this year after some reconstruction.
A spot of coffee, lunch or dinner:
K Bohnicím 2 | www.salabka.cz
A luxury restaurant with its own winery and apartment accommodation. In the Salabka you’ll find a lunch menu, evening dinner à la carte, or weekend brunch. Top-tier French-inspired cuisine rests on local ingredients from the region’s farmers and growers. The wine list gives a choice of own-produced wines as well as proven French brands.
Ristorante & Pizzeria Del Corso
Trojská 173b | www.delcorso.cz
An Italian-style restaurant for up to 150 guests (with a summer garden for up to 250). In addition to pizza, you can feast on fresh fish and seafood. Just the place for corporate and social events. There is also private parking (some 20 places).
How to get there:
Tram 17, 93 – Trojská stop
Bus 112 – to Kovárna, Zoologická zahrada or Botanická zahrada stops
Ferry stop P8 – Císařský ostrov – Troja (in good weather)
Author: Jan Pomykal - Web Content and Publishing Department