The Safest Place in Prague

The Bohnice psychiatric hospital was, at the time of its conception, the second largest and most modern facility of its kind in central Europe. The complex, in which most buildings are designed by Czech architect Václav Roštlapil, gained UNESCO world heritage status in 1954. The unique urban complex and its surroundings, which have been preserved to almost original form, have been described as one of the “safest places in Prague” by Tomáš Řepa of the National Monument Institute. 

“There are many myths around the complex. For example, many people think it is closed to the public, which is not true. At the same time, I think it is one of the safest places in Prague that tourists do not know about.” Tomáš Řepa says. 

They decided to build this extensive and modern psychiatric institute in 1903. The first pavilion was designed three years later by architect Václav Roštlapil in the fields of Bohnice village, which became part of Prague in 1924.

The area, which occupies 64 hectares, is dominated by the Art Nouveau church of St. Wenceslas with its 55-meter-high tower, which was built in 1911 and also designed by Václav Roštlapil. 

Roštlapil is also responsible for the design of the Academy of Fine Arts in Bubenec. “He used a similar raster for all of these building” explains Řepa. 

Before the foundation of the psychiatric hospital, there were only fields and forests in this area. Today, there is a park around the complex which is open until 8pm every day and is used by local people for leisure activities. “At the site, the patients themselves can get involved and the idea was that this work would help with the healing process”  

There is also a farm on site. Patients can undergo “hippotherapy” in which they use specially trained horses for therapeutic treatments.

Author: Holly Webb

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