Florenc area to be spruced up

Several areas around the metro stop and viaduct should be upgraded

The area near the Florenc metro stop and bus depot is one of the less inviting places in the city. But that may change. Za Poříčskou bránou is set to be revitalized.

In mid-June, events will start happening at the former Karlín Barracks (Karlínská kasárna). Prague 8 hopes to clean up nearby Za Poříčskou bránou street and the reputation of the area. “The street will be a passage to the Karlín Barracks. … It seems to me that it is absolutely natural that the link between the city center, public transport and the Karlin Barracks would be just this street,” Prague 8 Deputy Mayor Petr Vilgus said. The barracks, which has long stood abandoned, will be converted into a multipurpose venue by cultural developer Matěj Velek. He plans for the large building to have cafes, artists' studios, playgrounds and theater spaces.

Za Poříčskou bránou leads from the Florenc metro stop to the Negrelli viaduct. The former barracks, which has long been sitting idle, is just on the other side of the viaduct. Za Poříčskou bránou should see new outdoor seating at restaurants and new flowers along the street.

Deputy Mayor Vilgus told daily Pražský deník that he hopes Za Poříčskou bránou will have new trees and street lights, rebuilt sidewalks and pavement, and redesigned parking. Architect Igor Kovačević of Moba studio has developed a plan for the street, but it was not implemented due to renovation work on the viaduct. Vilgus said the plan can be modified and still used.

Other plans are also underway for the area, including a renovation of the Municipal Museum at Florenc and work to make the elevated highway that cuts through the area more friendly to pedestrians and other users.

The street Za Poříčskou bránou used to go to the Poříčská Gate, which stood from 1669 to 1875. As Emperor Franz Joseph declared Prague to be an open city in the 1860s, the fortifications including the city walls and gates were all town down. The street has gone through a number of names and for a while was named for writer and politician Karel Havlíček Borovský.

The Karlín Barracks were built in the 1840s due to a lack of suitable housing for soldiers, and it is now protected cultural heritage. It was designed to house 2,000 soldiers, and was used by the military in various capacities until 2008. The site was chosen because it was close to the city gate and also above what was thought to be the flood zone at the time.

Originally it was called the Ferdinand Barracks after Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria, who was also King Ferdinand V of Bohemia. Once Czechoslovakia achieved independence in 1918, the barracks was renamed for Jan Žižka. It was used by the occupying German forces in World War II. During the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion, it served as a makeshift radio station since other locations had been taken over.

Once the compulsory draft was canceled it was no longer needed by the Defense Ministry. It was transferred to the Justice Ministry in 2016. The long-term fate of the building is uncertain, as the Justice Ministry has announced plans to renovate and use the building for its own purposes. The cultural center, which is just leasing the space, may be short-lived unless the ministry changes its plans.

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