Name: Count Canal's Garden
Venue rooms (type):
Count Canal’s Garden. Garden venue for public musical entertainments. Located along the road eastwards from the Koňská brána [Horse Gate - on the site of what is now the Národní muzeum] at the eastern end of Wenceslas Square [Václavské náměstí / Wenzelsplatz], for about 1km outside the city bastion, in the district now known as Vinohrady. The kernal of the site was purchased in 1782 by Count Josef Emanuel Canal de Malabaila (1745-1826), a Viennese nobleman of Italian descent who married into the Prague Chotek family around 1770 and then resided in the city. Canal was an active patron of the arts and sciences, and over the following years purchased additional land in the vicinity, developing it as vinyards, gardens and fields. Part of this was dedicated to botany, vegetable and fruit growing and was named after its founder the ‘Kanálka’. According to a dedicated study by Rudolf Smažík, Kanálka (Prague: Malíř, 1911), pp.19ff the gardens were divided into sections (partie), the most beautiful of which lay just to the outside of the city gate (Koňská brána) where were planted various beautiful trees. From out of the gate to the right was planted an avenue, to the left a shady square of chestnuts trees. The second part of the garden comprised plantings of native flowers, exotic plants and shrubs. This was arranged by Canál’s wife ‘in the Chinese Style’ with chinese statues, figures, towers and follies, and an aviary of native and foreign birds. In other parts of the gardens were various other ornamental features, a pond and memorials. According to Smažík the garden was open to the public, although parts were accessible only by ticket, and the anti-Semitic Canál forbade any access by the Jewish population, erecting a notice at the entrance reading ‘Den Hunden und Juden ist der Eintritt verboten.’ By 1791 an important botanical garden was established on the site. On the death of Count Canal in 1826, the gardens were bequeathed to his daughter Countess Josefína Pachtová with the wish that they would never be built upon. They were then sold in 1827, first to Count Buquoye and then in 1830 to the family Zdekauer, rich Prague bankers and merchants. The gardens continued to be cultivated as a park and used by the public into the 1880s. They then fell into neglect and in 1895 the park began to be broken up and sold in parcels for building and housing land.
Throughout its existence the Gardens seemed to be used for social entertainments both private and public. In 1786, for example, extensive entertainments were laid on to mark the wedding of Canal’s daughter including performances by several military music ensembles. An idea of the popularity and class of these entertainments was shown by a report appearing in Prager Morgenpost 19/8/1863. This related: ‘Canal’s Garden. The music performances in the Canal’s Garden in recent times are becoming firm favourites. The programmes to these are always well-chosen. Mr Skwan [possibly Skřívan]. Playing in recent programmes have been the musical ensemble of the Dragoons regiment of Count Windischgrätz, and in the last days the musical ensemble of the miners of Kladno [Musikcapelle der Bergknappen von Kladno], whose excellent music for considerable applause.’
Outdoor public performances and events continued throughout the nineteenth century until the gardens fell out of use in the 1880s.
On a present-day map of Prague, Canal’s Garden stretched west to east from Jungmannova ulice to Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrady.
During the period the garden was owned by the Zdekauer family it was referred to in Prague newspaper and periodical reports variously still as ‘Canal’s Garden’ but also on occasion ‘Zdekauer’s Garden’. From an advertisement appearing in Mercy’s Anzeiger 9/12/1854 the locality also had a dairy selling milk and particularly ‘good and strong’ coffee. The owner at that time was Anton Just.
Just outside this venue was a stage upon which farces were performed. Prager Morgenpost 5/7/1863 published news of this, noting that after two years is was closing and moving to Střelecký ostrov.