Save Chateau Veleslavín!


Prague has most probably more historic monuments/buildings/ensembles than any other European capital. This refers not only to the city centre but also to the numerous villas, churches, monasteries, gardens, village cores and manors (of the latter a local expert here enumerates almost 100).

Chateau Veleslavín – the place where Alzheimer was (also) discovered Photo GK

The City of Prague has done an enormous job to preserve and renovate a vast number of those buildings after the fall of the Iron Curtain, often together with local or foreign investors or charity organisations. The Prince of Wales for example has contributed considerable sums to turn the jungle on the Southern slope of Castle Hill into what are now the fabulous Terrace Gardens Below The Castle. Superb Kampa Museum was a ruin ready for demolition.

Still, many other places are in bad shape, the city respectively the districts mostly responsible for monument preservation don’t know what to do first. Numerous initiatives try to help.

One of them is Chateau Veleslavín, a pretty little baroque manor house from the early 18th century, located in a once fabulous garden which is still a wonderful oasis of peace off Prague’s busy streets. I was able to visit it yesterday, Oct. 2nd, 2020, as part of a great private initiative called “Architecture Days”. They offer free visits of mostly inaccessible places, every year at the beginning of October.

The beautiful park was once a baroque garden. The entire estate was maybe the work of Prague’s most renowned baroque architect Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer. Photo GK

The estate was built for a local landowner between 1730 and 1750, most probably a member of the nobility. I found out that there is obviously erroneous information in scientific literature, as the first owner is named a noblelady called E. M. Oestéren. The only information we have is that obviously the parents of Friedrich Werner and Láska von Oestéren bought the chateau in the late 19th century. Friedrich Werner was a writer, born in 1874 in Berlin, his sister one of the acquaintances – girlfriends? – of Rainer Maria Rilke, as there is quite some correspondence in which Veleslavín plays a role.

In the early 20th century the estate was the property of Oskar Fischer and his cousin Leo Kosák, both physicians of German-Jewish origin who founded a well renowned sanatorium. Fischer discovered the symptoms of Alzheimer disease in the same year as the illnesses’ eponym and proved it in many more clinical study than the famous doctor. Yet the tragic end of both cousins at concentration camps made the world forget about this pioneering researcher.

Except for the main bulding, the three separate pavilions are in bad shape. Photo GK

After WWII the premises continued to serve as a medical institution until the early 2000. Since then the buildings and the park are decaying.

The interior of the main buidling is still in pretty good shape. Photo GK

If you are interested in the further development please see https://www.facebook.com/zamekveleslavin

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