Atrium na Žižkově
This concert and exhibition hall is located in the building of a listed former Baroque church from the 18th century. In the 1970s, the former nave was converted into a concert hall for 120 visitors, and a modern extension was added to the original Baroque structure, in whose eastern wing is an exhibition hall. It offers its visitors a pleasant place to sit with refreshments in the atrium or in the adjacent park.
Prague suffered great plague disasters in the years 1679 - 1680 and 1713 - 1716. Back then, the city purchased land behind the ramparts to bury the thousands of dead. That was how the temporary burial ground was established by the New Town’s councillors in 1680, with a surface area of 100 x 50 m, which in 1713 became an official cemetery of the New Town of Prague. In 1680, also the Old Jewish Cemetery was established at Žižkov, today being from the most part the area of Mahler’s Park; the Old Town cemetery established in the same year became the core of today’s cemetery at Olšany.
Upon an impulse from the New Town mayor Jan František Krusius of Krausenberg, a small church of the Elevation of the Holy Cross was built at the New Town cemetery in the years 1717 - 1719. It is 17.5 m long, 8.5 m wide, and 13.5 m high at the gable. The architect remains unknown, yet it was for certain one of the great masters of Prague Baroque, who managed to build a unique, stylistically clear construction adjoined by a hermitage as well. The hermit was supposed to take care of the church, to ring the Ave-bells, and to ring the bells during storms against clouds and hail, and to beg with a moneybox twice per week in Prague. Based on the permit from pope Clement XII, a burial brotherhood was established by the church in 1734; an association that paid a contribution upon the death of its member, and provided for and accompanied the members’ funerals. As the church no longer satisfied the needs, the burial brotherhood built a chapel of Virgin Mary of Sorrows in the neighbourhood, which was demolished in 1890. The Čajkovského Street today crosses the place of the chapel.
In 1757, the church was plundered by the Prussian army, which then defeated the Austrian army by Štěrboholy. In 1771, there was an outbreak of a huge influenza epidemics, even intensified by famine, so there were more than 2,000 persons buried in this cemetery over this year. The patents of Joseph II in 1782 abolished eremitism in Bohemia, and the burial brotherhood was disbanded in 1785. In 1787, the church was made a parish church (until that time it belonged to the St. Jindřich Parish), and the hermitage was turned into a vicarage. In 1839, however, church services could no longer continue in the church due to numerous constructional flaws, and shortly afterwards, the church was abolished altogether, even with the cemetery, where there was too dense concentration of burial places on a small surface area (there were over 8,000 of buried bodies). From 1843 on, the function of the parish church was taken over by the St. Roch Church nearby with a better access. The church of the Elevation of the Holy Cross was used as a storage place, the vicarage was inhabited by renters, and its demolition was considered. The suggestion to preserve the church as one of the oldest Žižkov monuments was first presented as early as in 1887, yet the problem of lacking financial means was constant.
The church was not restored until 1975. It has its original Baroque appearance; the most valuable being the Western front with a gable, an arc window and a decorative grille, and with a richly profiled sandstone portal with a preserved inscription commemorating the initiator of the construction. The central area is made up of the former church aisle turned into a concert hall with the capacity of 120 visitors. A low modern addition was built in place of the vicarage and the vestry, demolished in 1962, and this addition serves the purpose of an operational reserve with a foyer and exhibition grounds. There is a little atrium hidden in the addition, which gave the name to the entire cultural facility. The old church was re-built into a cultural place under the supervision of the conservationists, and it was opened in 1984.
Information source: www.atriumzizkov.cz