Baroque house in a charming garden
A brief history of The Magical Garden house in Prague Downtown – Vodičkova Street No. 35, Prague 1
Baroque house in the very center of Prague, ranked on the official list of cultural monuments and belonging to the Prague Historical Reserve, was first mentioned in the 14th century. But a building on this land in the city center stayed probably earlier. First official recorded owners was tailor Vitek (1378-1397). From this time there are Gothic vaulted cellars under the house.
K. I. Dientzenhofer is author of present form
During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, homeowner families quite often changed. After the honorable Prague Řečický (1577-1610) family from the mid-17th century to the mid-18th century it was held by Mitrovsky noble family (hence one of the names “U Mitrovsky“). Under the ownership of this genus, probably on the former owner Marie Felicitas Countess Schützová, born Vratislav of Mitrovic, there was a large Baroque reconstruction of the house, under the baton of Kilian Ignaz Dientzehofer whose authorship is clearly visible on the site.
According to the detailed heritage survey conducted in the 80 years of the 20th century a house shows clear elements of Dientzenhofer authorship and belongs to his earliest Czech artist’s realization. The quality of the overall concept and architectural design of the buildings are components of its value, which makes it a highly significant residential Baroque in Old Prague.
Václav Urban and his descendants
The first owner from the Urban family, whose descendants still own the house, was Václav Urban, who implemented major redevelopment of whole property soon after its purchase in 1888. Most of the adjustments related to the interior so the house became practical and comfortable seat of extended Urban family. Another reconstruction from famous Czech architect Matěj Blecha took place in 1917, when was newly built second floor in the middle wing and first floor rear of the house towards the charming garden.
Before the WWI and the founding of Czechoslovakia, the house was a center of social and cultural events, with a prominent figure Marie Urbanová – Märki, mother of four sons and two daughters. One of them was Max Urban, pioneer of Czech cinema, while a gifted architect and urban planner. The first films of ASUM company, which ran Max Urban and his wife, were filmed in the garden of the house. Max Urban was involved in building of Barrandov quarter, proseprous and very modern part of Prague in thirties of 20th century. He designed big Barrandov film studious, several villas and also great recreational area of Barrandov Terrace.
Resurrection of the house after the Velvet Revolution
After the communist coup in 1948, the house was – originally large family residence – nationalized violently and without any compensation and divided into not nice several separate units. Urban’s part of the family remained living in the house, some moved away or emigrated. In the house had a studio architect František Maria Černý, who designed the postwar completion of the Emauzy monastery. Vlastimil and Alena Urban, who lived in the house for years, were good souls of Czech theater. Alena Urbanova was leading theater critic and supporter of amateur theaters, Vlastimil Urban stood at the birth years and was an important figure in the Prague Quadrienalle, traditional parade of stage design.
During the communist regime the public administration only kept house and – fortunately maybe! – did not confess serious construction works. After the Velvet Revolution, the house was returned to the descendants of the original owners. The building is currently managed by descendants of the Urban family and used for residential and commercial purposes. In 2013 was the court and garden revitalized and opened to the public.