A romantic place hidden in the shade of mature trees in the heart of city under the Legion Bridge enchants visitors with its old-time atmosphere and exceptional views of the city directly from the surface of the Vltava River. Occasionally, celebrations, concerts, open-air festivals, and various other cultural events are held here.
November – March
- Whole week
- 06.00 – 20.00
April – October
- Whole week
- 06.00 – 23.00
The island with an area of about 2,5 hectares is situated between the Slavic (Slovanský) and Children’s (Dětský) islands. It is accessible from the Legion Bridge (most Legií). In course of the time the island had changed its size and appearance and due to this also the names. It used to be called Little Venezia (Malé Benátky), the Upper Island (Hořejší ostrov), the Little Island (Malý ostrov), the Island under the Bridge (Ostrov pod mostem), the Lawn (Trávník), the Water Courtyard (Vodní dvůr) and also "šicinzl", which was a Czech expression for the German word “Schützeninsel” meaning the Střelecký Island (Střelecký ostrov).
As early as under Charles IV, Prague longbow and crossbow shooters had the privilege of training here. From the 15th century, the island held competitions in shooting. During the Thirty Years War the island ran wild, but later, in the 18th and 19th centuries, it was used not only for the shooters, but also for folk festivals, celebrations and carnivals. In 1812, after the fire of the old wooden shooting range, Prague shooters built a new brick building with a restaurant according to the plans of the court architect Josef Kliment Zobel. It was a single-storey Empire style building No. 336. Thanks to its basement it survived even a great flood in 1890. In the years between 1935 and 1937 the building was extended by a terrace with a café designed by architect Jan Zázvorka. Both the building and the island used to be a place for busy social life: promenade concerts, dance parties, dancing balls and performances of variety and cabaret artists. In addition, a cinema auditorium was built on the first floor. In the 60s of the 20th century the building was adjusted for the use of the Start Prague, an association for physical education.
Originally, the visitors were transported to the island by ferry which was replaced in 1841 for the Franz Joseph I Chain Bridge designed by architect Bedřich Schnirch. In 1901 the chain bridge was substituted by present stone Legion Bridge. In 1882, the island held the 1st Sokol Festival, managed by Miroslav Tyrš, and in 1890 the island held the celebrations of the first Labour Day Festival in Bohemia (May 1st). In 1926 the 8th Sokol Festival was ceremonially finished there and this event took place on a stage and auditorium, both floating. During the protectorate the island was seized by Prague Hitlerjugend and after the war it became a property of the city.
The island was affected by August floods in 2002. Its considerable part was ruined by tons of alluvial sand.