The Prague Venice
The Kampa Island is located between Vltava and its branches called Čertovka, and between the Charles Bridge and the Legion Bridge, which leads from the National Theatre. The first mention of this area dates from the year 1169 when King Vladislav II. granted the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, later the Knights of St John, the privilege to build a fortified Komenda and the first monastery in the Lesser Town. The Order still resides here. The Kampa Island was later filled with gardens and mills, which were often destroyed by floods. The fire of the Lesser Town in 1541 paradoxically helped the Kampa Island because the rubble from demolished buildings served to increase and reinforce the shores of the island.
Today’s Kampa consists of the square with the beautiful houses and palace. The Kampa Square served as a place for pottery markets until the end of the 17th century and today, it is filled with cosy restaurants. Amongst others, the most famous houses are Renaissance, for example, the Golden Lion House or the House at Blue Fox,
The second part of the Kampa Island consists of gardens and it is a favourite spot for relaxing, especially amongst young people. The Kampa Museum is in the former Sova´s Mills buildings, in the gardens. The museum houses part of the collection of modern Central European art of Jan and Meda Mládek. The collection includes the works of the Czech pioneers of abstract art, František Kupka and Otto Gutfreuda. The large plastic infants – The Babies, created by the controversial sculptor, David Černý, are displayed next to the museum.
The first written accounts that mention the mills at Kampa Island are from the end of the 14th century. Václav Sova gained the land during the reign of Vladislav Jagiellon in 1478. He established the mill with hammer and he set up another establishment for processing leather and cloth. The important Prague entrepreneur, František Odkolek, acquired the buildings in the 19th century. The change of the technology to steam power brought also the new dominance of the building – the tall chimney. After the fire in 1896, part of the building was torn down and today, there is the Kampa Museum.