As numerous archaeological finds have shown, there was human settlement on the territory that is now Prague 7 as far back as the Stone Age. The area offered favourable conditions for hunting and fishing, and for agriculture.  During the period of Celtic settlement around the year 500 BC the so-called Bubeneč-Dejvice settlement existed here; it was a trade crossroads between north, south, west and east, where many different kinds of goods were exchanged. From the 1st to the 4th centuries AD, one of the largest centres of German iron-working was to be found on the territory of today’s Prague 6 and 7.  With the gradual arrival of the Slavs, however, the centre of settlement shifted in the 8th – 9th centuries to what today is the Old Town.

The historic settlements of Holešovice and Bubny form the basis of Prague 7.


Bubny

The first mention of Bubny dates back to 1088 in a Vyšehrad forgery that identifies its donation to the Vyšehrad Chapter by King Vratislav (the charter is clearly a forgery, the information is true, however). The local Church of St. Clemens’s was only consecrated in 1298, but the building is undoubtedly much older, evidently from the Early Romanesque period.

The strategic position of Bubny near an important ford across the river on the direct route to Prague Castle meant that the devastation of the area during military conflicts was frequent. In 1420, for example, Sigismund’s army camped here (to be confronted from the Island of Great Venice, today known as Štvanice by the Hussites commanded by Jan Žižka, before the latter moved to the more defensible Vítkov Hill). The worst destruction came during the Thirty Years War in the 17th century.

The people of Bubny lived mainly by fishing, but their competitors in the Old Town induced the emperor to issue a letter of majesty forbidding the sale of fish in the Lesser Town and affecting primarily Bubny. A new phase in the development of Bubny started only after 1750.  In 1788 there were 24 houses here, in 1825 there were thirty and even a cardboard box factory.  After 1850, when Bubny was merged with Holešovice, an unprecedented building boom occurred.

Holešovice

The life of the more remote Holešovice (earlier also Holejšovice or Holýšovice) developed quite differently from Bubny with its fisheries. It was mainly an agricultural settlement. The name of Holešovice is first mentioned in historical records in 1228 as royal property. Up to the 16th century this farming hamlet did not develop in any way and the number of farms there remained the same.  Only in the 18th century did the farms start to decline and from the mid-19th century Holešovice was gradually transformed into a city suburb.

Holešovice-Bubny

In 1850 Holešovice was merged with Bubny into a single Prague urban district, although the two parts continued to develop in relative independence of each other. From the end of the 19th century Bubny was directly connected with Prague by a chain bridge and served mainly as a district of residential apartment blocks, while Holešovice concentrated more on the building factories and became a peripheral industrial district.

In 1884 Holešovice-Bubny was incorporated into the City of Prague as its seventh district (after the Old Town, the New Town, the Lesser Town, Hradčany, Josefov and Vyšehrad). The district underwent rapid growth.  While in 1857 there were a mere 110 houses with 1,200 inhabitants, at the beginning of the 20th century there were already 780 house numbers, and a population of 30,000. In 1881 there were already 32 factories in Holešovice but the greatest turning-point in the history of Holešovice was the construction of the unique Karlín Rail Viaduct, which brought the railway from the State Station (today Masaryk Station) onto the Prague-Dresden Line.  The Holešovice and Bubny stations were built at the same time, and the railway was later connected up to steamboat transport to Hamburg.

Letná

Although Letná is administratively part of Holešovice-Bubny, it is a highly distinctive area with its own history. Letná belonged to the Czech princes, and in 1088, together with Bubny, it was donated by the king to the Vyšehrad Chapter. In 1261 Přemysl II was crowned here. In the past the south slope of Letná was used as a vineyard, particularly in the reign of Charles IV.  Later, however, the viticultural tradition gradually disappeared and the vineyards were abandoned, especially during the Thirty Years War. The tradition was to be revived only at the end of the 18th century by the Freiherr Jakub Wimmer.

In 1715-16 a summer palace Belvedere was constructed here, but not quite thirty years later it was destroyed by the French army. Since then the summer palace at the Prague Castle has taken over the name Belvedere. The strategic position of Letná was militarily very suitable for artillery bombardments. The direct threat this posed to Prague resulted in the construction of fortifications in 1757, which were torn down after the land was bought by the Prague municipality in 1859 and replaced by the Letná Gardens. Their park design with the then fashionable chestnut avenues was the work of the chief gardener of the royal city of Prague, František Thomayer.

Štvanice

The island earlier known as Velké Benátky (Great Venice) came to be called Štvanice (the Chase) around the end of the 16th century. This was because it was the frequent venue for the rather cruel pursuit of chasing and baiting beasts in an arena for the entertainment of the nobility, burghers and common folk. Much later the sport was definitively banned by the Emperor Francis II, but the island continued to live by offering various attractions.

In 1900 the island was connected by a wooden bridge to the State Station (today Masaryk Station) and to Bubny. Later Štvanice was chosen as the site for the well-known Winter Stadium, the first artificial skating rink in Prague, where international contests have been held since 1932.

Bubeneč, Troja

The administrative territory of Prague 7 includes a part of Bubeneč and Troja, today enjoying the status of a separate city district, is historically linked to Prague 7 as well. The first mentions of Bubeneč and Troja come from the end of the 12th century.  The area was earlier known as Ovenec, because of the keeping of sheep (ovce = sheep in Czech), and it came to be called Bubeneč through gradual corruption of the name. The greater part of the territory, however, was covered in forest and the Přemyslid kings created a hunting park here (hence the name Královská obora – Royal Game-park). It also includes the island known as Císařský (Imperial) Island since the times of Rudolf II. Rudolf bred all kinds of wild game in the park, not only deer and boar but even exotic animals such as buffalo and Asian sheep. Rudolf also established a pheasantry, which was later closed and replaced by a forest nursery – today Stromovka Park.  Not until 1845, however, was Stromovka connected up with the Royal Game-park. Bubeneč was given town status in 1904 and together with Troja was incorporated into Prague in 1922.  Trója was attached to Prague 7 when the city districts were reorganised in 1949.