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Old postcards of Prague   St Peter´s Quarter

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St Peter’s Quarter is one of the areas in the New Town which were inhabited before its foundation in 1348. The New Town city fortification incorporated the Quarter with its original street network and houses. Its distinction from the newly outlined broad, straight streets and regular building lots of the New Town is apparent even today as its old structures, which evolved without restraint, remained essentially intact.

Originally, this hamlet of Poříčí was inhabited by German merchants who settled along the route leading from the Vltava ford at the Štvanice Island to the Old Town marketplace. The German merchants constructed here a Romanesque church consecrated to St Peter but, after the completion of the Judith Bridge and diversion of the trade route to the south, they abandoned the church in favour of the German Knights, who founded an order here. Shortly afterwards they also moved to the more prosperous Old Town and the hospital brotherhood of the Knights of the Cross settled around the Church of St Peter. This order was founded by Agnes of Bohemia. Nevertheless, it followed suit and also moved to the Judith Bridge in the mid-13th century and the Church of St Peter became a parish church. The Romanesque period also witnessed the construction of the nearby Church of St Clement, which was the seat of the Dominican Order for a short time span during the first half of the 13th century. This is probably the historical event which is linked with the Gothic reconstruction of the small church.

Another characteristic feature of this area, which is nowadays simply referred to as St Peter’s Quarter, is its proximity to the river and the economic exploitation of the river bank connected with this. The lower river bank sector of the New Town resembled its present appearance very little in the previous century. First of all it was at this section of the Vltava that the islands Primátorský (Mayor Island), Korunní (Crown Island) and Štvanice (the Great Venice) started and were linked up with the Rohanský Island (Rohan is the name of a Bohemian aristocratic family). Beyond these was a romantic maze of tiny islands. Three rows of mills lined the river bank down to the water: in the west there was the new mill, in the middle the lower Lodní Mills, and in the east the Helmovské mills. In between these there were tanneries, printed cotton factories, etc. The fronts of the houses connected to these overlooked Klimentská Street. Pictures of the houses of this street dating from about 1900 depict a number of buildings with an intact Renaissance or Baroque appearance, the picturesqueness of which is stressed by their back wings, which descend towards the Vltava in a display of bizarre forms.

The regulation of the Vltava River banks of 1915-1917 brought an end to all this. The mills were removed, river bank walls were built and the spurs between the islands were piled with sand and Štvanice became thus the only island which remained.

Further demolitions in Klimentská and Petrská Streets including Petrské Square, were carried out in the 1920s and 1930s. In this period numerous modern business, office and ministerial buildings were constructed here.

postcards St Peter´s Quarter

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