Hidden Prague: Domus Vitae in Stromovka

The house is definitely not just a café, it is so much more. The memorial-protected half-timbered cottage in Stromovka is home to the community centre for the elderly, Domus Vitae.

It is a place where friends, mums with children, young and old meet in the picturesque garden, just everybody, regardless of age, to relax for a while and enjoy the beauty around (and have a cake or ice cream whilst at it).  When the weather isn’t pleasant, you can hide inside, where you will find seating between old photographs. You will also find a play area, books, and a computer. Internet café and everything else is here for you, so do not be afraid to use it all.

The non-profit company Domus Vitae was founded in 2015 and its founders are Kateřina Čihařová and Ivan Dvořák. Both who have extensive experience both in health and social care, but also in the preparation and implementation of projects funded by national and international grant programs.

Kateřina Čihařová had always had a dream of opening a place that would be pleasant and safe space for seniors and their loved ones. But when the former Stromovka railroad house was offered to her by the city council, she thought it too small for her plans. But when she went to look at it, it can only be described as love at first sight, and she knew she could not just leave it. 

The opening of the house was stretched mainly due to the lengthy reconstruction, which lasted for two years, opening its doors to the general public in May 2018.

Since then it has developed two projects that have helped nonprofit companies get a grant for equipment and the initial operation of a community centre for the elderly, which would also actively engage people over the age of 55 under the heading of a social enterprise. 

“Domus Vitae in Latin means the House of Life, and it accurately describes our mission and intention. Revitalise the former railroad house, which gradually fell into oblivion and creates a place where people can meet…We are trying to get people accustomed to the fact that this place is for everyone and everyone can make the most of it,” says Tereza Kulhánková, director of Domus Vitae. 

At this point, you may be curious as to the community centre works and what sort of activities take place there. For the seniors, they are free to organise a variety of courses, where they can not only educate but mainly find new friends and interesting leisure activities. Computer literacy, English, pilates, tai-chi, Nordic walking, handmade workshops or art lessons to be launched from September – all of this and much more offers Domus Vitae for seniors aged 55+ who are active and do not want to be alone at home. 

“We still have a lot of other ideas to revitalise the activities for seniors. In the summer, for example, we will be preparing bingo evenings. We have just agreed to cooperate with a theatre association that is dedicated to the comedy dell’arte and those in our garden will have their own performances. In the winter we are going to introduce amateur theatre,” says Tereza Kulhánková. 

In the future, they also envision the cooperation of selected seniors with children from social schools. The senior would become a replacement grandfather or grandmother with whom a child could write assignments for school, go for ice cream and enjoy their time together. In addition, Domus Vitae also runs a social care business, which includes a homely coffee house with a family atmosphere, which also serves seniors who wanted to become barricades at least a few days a week. Also, for this reason, you can get Nespresso coffee to make the coffee machine as easy as possible for them. 

The house also functions as a social enterprise where everyone can offer their own experience and engage. 

Want to volunteer?

If you have a hobby – be it origami or you like to sing, you should not be afraid to write to jana.zemanova@domusvitae.cz

Author: Lilato Madiri

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