Dobřichovice is a small town located in the Prague-West District (in the Central Bohemian Region), in the Czech Republic. It lies on both banks of the river Berounka, about 16 miles south-west of Prague. The town of Dobřichovice is situated just about mid way between Karlštejn Castle (one of the most famous landmarks in all the Czech Republic) and Prague. While Dobřichovice only has approx. 3,000 permanent residents, it often feels like much more since several hundred Prague residents spend their weekends at picturesque cottages scattered along the waterside.
The most important building in Dobřichovice is of course, the Castle of Dobřichovice. This lovely castle served as the summer residence of the grand master of Knights of the Cross with the Red Star in the distant past. The Church of St. Judas Thaddaeus is located right next to the Castle.
Let’s take a walk around the property, shall we?
Of course the castle is not the only attraction in Dobřichovice.
Folks from Prague love it because of the many architecturally unique structures. In fact, Czech television did a piece on the summer residences located around the town.
There was also a small print run of 500 copies of a book discussing the rich history of architecture in this area. Published by the National Heritage Institute and under the leadership of Šárka Koukalová, a team of researchers and scientists have elaborately portrayed richly colored photographs, plans, drawings and historical footage within the publication.
Calling the villa development “of one of Prague’s suburban architectural pearls”, the town of Dobřichovice holds many unique and lovely treasures.
Readers of the book receive not only a set of beautiful photos with commentaries, but also a whole range of studies and accompanying texts that create a picture of this town’s interesting past and a complete illustration of the emergence and busy life of individual buildings, and those who lived in them.
The initial studies illuminate the emergence of a large set of high-quality summer residences of the Prague upper middle class, putting it in the whole of European context. Other materials place this interesting phenomenon in the history of Czech architecture at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. There is also a study on the territorial planning and development of Dobřichovice in the mentioned period.
Attention is also paid to the gardens of this extensive villegiature. Rare and unique information on the fate of some of the Dobřichovice villas are also covered in depth. We learn of confiscations and other gross restrictions on property rights. In the final part of the book, the authors bring interesting and, in fact, very open interviews with homeowners or their descendants.
Graphic designer Martin Pivrnec and photographers Martin Chum, Mirek Pásek and Ondřej Přibyl have co-created a remarkable, but pleasant and careful study. A picture and fact-accurate list of dozens of objects shows on the one hand, the openness and helpfulness of today’s owners or home owners and, on the other hand, the main part which is of course, the considerable architectural and artistic value of the homes themselves.
Beginning in the second half of the 1880s, we can be pleased to be able to appreciate such a unique set of buildings, the amazing countryside in which they lay and the enduring mature garden complexes.
The value of the vilas in Dobřichovice are an example of architectural realizations from the studios of the famous names of the 19th and 20th centuries and these stunning residences are equal to the residential areas of West Berlin or Vienna from the same time period.
The book is also a valuable tool for the study of the development of Czech architecture, from various phases and through different types of eclectic architecture to the influences of Art Nouveau and early Functionalism.
A beautiful collection of residences, around a lovely old castle in a historic town, what more can one ask for on a holiday to the Czech Republic?
For armchair travelers, you can order the rare book (if copies are still available). It’s surely on my wish list!
Letní rezidence Pražanů – Dobřichovice a vilová architektura 19. a 20. století. (I found some copies at this link.)
Vydal: Národní památkový ústav. Editor: Šárka Koukalová. Autoři: Vladimír Czumalo, Martina Flekačová, Šárka Koukalová, Václav Kratochvíl, Eva Novotná, Radoslava Schmelzová, Stanislav Svoboda, Jaroslav Šulc.