Sure, Prague has its obvious splendor—magnificent castle, grand squares, etc.,—but for those of us acquainted with the Czech capital’s lesser-known quarters, it is also home to some true pockets of weirdness.
A new project launched by Charles University students is celebrating that strangeness. From the Koh-i-Noor factory in Vršovice—completely unrelated to the pencil people by the way—to a district that this twelve-year Prague resident had never heard of, the Divna Mista (Strange Places) map will show you a thing or two about our city.
What began as an assignment for an interdisciplinary arts seminar in 2014 eventually developed into a full-time passion for the group of art history and theory students who turned a learning exercise into a website devoted to urban oddities.
With additional support from the university, several of the seminar participants went on to develop the new website. Organized into a number of categories of (parks, housing estates, pubs, stations, cemeteries, waterworks, bridges) and Prague districts, the map also includes entries for cities beyond the Czech capital.
“We aim to create an on-line environment that combines as many points of view as possible and that helps us and anyone else who is interested to find new connections inside the city organism and continually see it from new positions,” says Jiří Sirůček, one of the site’s founders.
If touring Prague neighborhoods in search of the unusual sounds like your idea of a good time, the website also offers an open platform where architecture and history enthusiasts can share their knowledge of the obscure via photos, text, and audio.
Says co-founder Noemi Purkrábková of the collective’s mission to build an on-line compendium of the bizarre:
“We are basically just students who want people to see the city in a different way than one can find in official tourist guides.”
That neighborhood I’d never been to? Turns out I had. Liboc is located between Hvězda park and Wild Šárka where my husband’s mother grew up. And yet I had somehow overlooked the ancient church of St. Fabian and Sebastian and the remarkable history of the crumbling Schubert Villa.
It seems the project and its founders have much more to offer than just a guide for tourists; their work as archivists of Prague’s forgotten places and bizarre bits is a testament to the complex history of an important European capital.
The people behind Divna Mista are currently planning outings, conferences, and other strange events. Follow them on Facebook for updates.