Nuselské schody (Nusle Steps)
On the south edge of Vinohrady (Prague 2) the land falls away into a broad valley, spanned today by the dramatic Nusle bridge carrying metro and road links to the southern suburbs and beyond. But the industrialization of the area began in the 1870s, when the first Vinohrady railway tunnel – still in use today – was dug through the hillside. Earth removed from the tunnel by Moritz Grobe’s company formed the foundations for his ‘Grebovka’ villa.
Needless to say, the coming of the trains changed the fortunes of this part of Prague forever. Ladies and gentlemen from as far away as Vienna could alight at Vyšehrad station (now no longer in use) and continue their journey into leafy Vinohrady. Horse-drawn trams were running to Wenceslas Square by 1884, but there was a hitch: the tram-stop was at the top of the steep hill.
The solution was somewhat old-tech but very beautiful: this gracious, curving, fourteen-flight staircase, built in 1891 to connect Fričova Street below with Šafaříkova above. And if on the way you felt in need of solace, half-way up there was an eighteenth-century chapel dedicated to the Holy Family. It’s still there, though in nowhere near as smart a state as the splendid stairs themselves.