When you stay with us at Mamaison Residence Sulekova, a 10 minute walk from your hotel you will find a charming little garden the locals call Kochova Záhrada (Koch’s Garden). It is a protected area landscaped sometime around the early 1930s (1932 – 1935) as the park grounds of the Karol Koch sanatorium. The project was carried by architects Dušan Jurkovič, Jindřich Merganc, and Oto Klimeš. With benches, stairways, raised points, rest areas, sculptures, and a small pond, the garden was supposed to be a relaxing oasis for the patients of the sanatorium. All permanent features of the plot, like stairs, stone tiles, alleys, benches, fountain, and sculptures, are still the original from 1932.
After years of neglect, local authorities and volunteers are working diligently to make this place the beautiful retreat it once was. Although it is a private garden, generally not open to the public, the owners are occasionally opening its gates, especially for thematic events and workshops, as well as for volunteer care of the grounds.
Although it is a small space, covering about half a hectare on the slopes of a hill, this urban gem has an incredible variety of plants. Currently, under Municipal protection, Kochova Záhrada is a significant example dendrological garden, with about 30 conifers and 26 deciduous evergreen exotic species among several other tree varieties. Local authorities, owners, and volunteers are still working to revitalize the garden and to reopen it to the public.
Besides plants, the garden also features a fountain and two sculptures, one of a mother and child, and one called Lovers.
Until the garden reopens officially, you can always see their official website (linked in the first paragraph) to see their current public programs and volunteering opportunities.
Kafka at Wenceslas Square. This stunning kinetic sculpture by David Černý' measures 10 m in height, and is entirely made of steel. HepcoMotions Heavy Duty Rings technology enables 42 independently driven layers to move, creating stunning effects.
One of the most delightful ways of discovering Prague is walking in Kafka’s footsteps. More than a walking tour, this is a cultural experience. You can start at Náměstí Franze Kafky where his birth house stood once. Only a door is left from the building where Prague’s beloved novelist and short story writer saw the light of day. You can still see it integrated as the main door of the building standing at Náměstí Franze Kafky 3, next to the Church of St Nicholas.
Kafka spent his childhood (from 1889 till 1896) in the beautiful Dům U Minuty (Staroměstské nám. 3/2 – in the Old Town Square), in English, House at the Minute – a stunning Gothic-style building covered in ornate Sgraffito decorations depicting scenes from Greek mythology, Renaissance, and the Bible.
Have a cup of coffee at Café Franz Kafka before you begin your walk to the Old-New Synagogue (Altneuschul), which is not only the place where Kafka attended religious services, but also Europe’s oldest active synagogue. An edifice dating from 1270, the synagogue was among the first Gothic buildings erected in Prague, and today it remains the oldest surviving medieval synagogue of twin-nave design in existence. The synagogue is open to the public, but they charge an admission fee, so have cash ready.
From here, walk to 16 Dlouhá, where you will find the house where Kafka wrote the bulk of his novel The Trial in 1915. From here, you can walk to Café Louvre (Národní 22), one of the few remaining of Kafka’s favorite haunts. Kafka was not the only famous patron of this monument: Karel Capek and Albert Einstein count among the cherished guests of the locale too. The venue also boasts a non-smoking saloon and restaurant, patisserie, billiards, and in the summer months terrace, plus a gallery with a nice café and a Functionalist style saloon, suitable for exhibitions and other events.
Another Kafka favorite, Palác Lucerna (at Štěpánská 61) still offers a rich cultural program, along with cafes, restaurants, and shops. From here, the Kafka Museum (at Cihelná 635/2b) is 25 minutes on foot.
Kafka is also celebrated in street art, as well as through an impressive monument by David Černý.