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Kampa Island

Kampa Island (41)

If during your stay in Prague you need a place to get your breath back and stroll around free of the hustle and bustle, then look no further. You have found that spot: you are on Kampa Island. This quaint corner conserves all the charm of being a place where time seems to pass at a different speed and it is one of the most singular settings in the city.

Kampa Island is an extension of land separated from the mainland by a branch of the River Vltava that is given the name of Certovka. Its translation would be “Devil’s stream” and its name seems to come from the hellish character of a woman who owned a house there in the 19th century. The stream runs between some houses and for this reason Kampa Island is also known as the “the Venice of Prague”. Four pillars from Charles Bridge stand over the island.

In 1159, Ladislaus I handed this island over to the Order of the Knights of Malta, responsible for the construction of a fortified command, the first convent of Malá Strana and several houses.

During the Middle Ages, there were only orchards here and washing places where clothes were bleached, as well as some mills, of which there are some remains. In the 17th century pottery was popularised and an annual ceramics fair is still held here today.

In the Na Kampe Square there are several outstandingly beautiful houses, such as the Golden Lion House, by Giuseppe Bartolommeo Scotti, or the Golden Branch House, with a rococo façade by Frantisek Josef Jäger.

Blue Fox House, currently home to the Latvian Embassy, was built by the jeweller of the Court of Rudolf II in 1605 and rebuilt in 1664. The Painting of the Virgin House faces Charles Bridge and the legend goes that the canvas presiding over the façade arrived floating to this spot during a flood. At number 11 of Na Kampe Square is Martinu House, where the musician Bohuslav Martinu lived while he was studying in the conservatory, in the early 20th century.

In the Kampa Museum there are works on show by great Czech artists of the 20th century, such as Kolár, Guttfreund or Kupka. Next to the museum, the old Liechtenstein Palace conserves its Baroque portico despite it having been restored in late imperial style.

Also well-known are the murals and graffiti all along the Certovka stream, painted in clandestinity before the revolution of 1990. One of them, paying homage to the musician John Lennon, served as a meeting point for the student opposition.

Towards the south of the island a large park opens out formed by joining the gardens of several noblemen’s houses. It is a spot that is particularly used by students, above all when the good weather starts. Just a few words of advice: if it starts raining heavily, get back to the mainland. This is no joke: this spot disappeared completely beneath the water during the big floods of 2002 and many of its buildings are still suffering the consequences.

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