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Chosen articles 11.12.2013
Kampa Island is a picturesque and romantic location with beautiful old buildings and charming bridges. The Venice of Prague is home to the Kampa Museum and an extraordinary collection of modern art from central Europe. Although it is only fair to mention that it isn’t quite Venice and it isn’t really an island.
Nonetheless, only the truly pedantic would bother with such details when presented with such a treasure in the river Vltava. The “island” was created when a channel was dug to power some watermills. The watermills have mostly gone; the most impressive still remaining is the fully restored Grand Prior’s Mill with a magnificent eight metre wheel.
The channel and island are also still present, as is the name the Devil’s Stream. While it would be exciting to tell the story of the Seven Devils that leapt from the stream one night to take revenge on the Hussites, this would be completely untrue and it would ignore the fact that the stream was named after a woman with a bitter nature and spiteful tongue who lived in a nearby home called “Seven Devils”.
The millrace was dug in the twelfth century, but the name for the island only arose in the seventeenth century. Spanish soldiers who were accommodated in tents on the island while preparing for the Battle of White Mountain began calling the area “Campus”, which translated to mean “field”.
In addition to the character and charm of the buildings, Kampa Island is home to the amazing Kampa Museum. Visitors are welcomed by a giant chair sculpture, the work of Magdalena Jetelova. The fact it can be seen from the mainland helps direct visitors to the stunning display of modern art, largely by Czech artists. But the Museum also works to engage the young in art with regular workshops for the whole family.
Crossing the northern most point of the island is the Charles Bridge. Access to the bridge is via the Ulice na Kampě, a street that ushers guests into the tranquil atmosphere of a community that has grown from stonemasons, carpenters and potters. But before stepping from the bridge, it’s worth taking a look at the Grand Prior’s Mill so that you will recognize it in galleries throughout Europe as this is the view many artists have captured.
The easiest way of reaching Kampa Island is to walk east across the Charles Bridge and head down the stairs. From the south, a tram ride may be the best option and then a walk down Ricni Street. However one crosses the Devil’s Stream, the beauty of Kampa Island, the houses, the millrace and the splendid museum, will overcome any number of devils.
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