V kolkovně 910/8

The Sanitation Act of 1893 led directly to the destruction of much of the Old Jewish Town of Prague; what replaced the centuries-old ghetto were tall art-nouveau buildings in the Parisian style. Indeed, the glistening new thoroughfare that replaced the myriad alleys and archways of Josefov was even called ‘Pařižská’, and it had shops, restaurants and apartments to match anything that the French capital could offer.

Typical of the new architecture was detailed decoration like this bas-relief on a house of 1905 by František Václavík and Karel Janda. The face of a young girl, the spirit of Czech youth, stares out from the frieze, her traditional head-dress flourishng with leaves and seed-heads. In the popular imagination, the message of a strong, independent Czech nation must have been tantalizingly close. It would take a world war to make it so.