Podolské nábřeží 15/10: Podolí Waterworks

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The exponential growth of Prague in the second half of the nineteenth century placed particular pressure on the city’s fresh water supply. Ancient water towers and drinking fountains were no longer good enough, and in 1882 a pumping station was established in Podolí, on the right bank of the river Vltava, to supply clean drinking water to districts on higher ground such as Royal Vinohrady.

But even when supplemented with water from the reservoir at Káraný – near the confluence of the rivers Jizera and Labe (Elbe) – the supply proved insufficient for the needs of a city whose population had more than tripled in the first quarter of the twentieth century. A new waterworks was needed.

And so it was that between 1925 and 1929, the original Podolí pumping station was gradually replaced with this colossal art deco temple designed by architects Antonín Engel and Maximilian Koschin, advised by technicians František Klokner and Bedřich Hacara. It was extended in the 1950s with the addition of another wing using the original neo-classical designs.

The plant, which today still houses, cleans and filters the reserve supply for the City of Prague, is a true monument to industrial and engineering prowess. It is also a grand artistic achievement. The facade of the central 150-foot-high tower is adorned with eleven statues representing respectively the left and right tributaries of the Vltava, sculpted by Joza Novák, Josef Fojtík and Zdeněk Vodička.

To the left of the Vltava: the Vydra, the Otava, the Blanice in Šumava, the Malše, the Berounka
To the right: the Sázava, the Blanice in Vlašim, the Želivka, the Lužnice and the Nežárka.