- Physical difficulty: Easy
- Length: up to 20 min
- Wheelchair accessibility: Yes
Karlín Barracks are a classical historical five-floor building located in Prague 8 – Karlín. The entrances are from the streets of Prvního pluku, Křižíkova and Vítkova. It is located next to the Vítkov hill and Negrelli Viaduct. Various units and facilities of the Prague military garrisons were located here, such as the garrison’s music band, the military police, headquarters or infirmary. The barracks are considered a cultural monument and are protected by the Czech Republic.
Physical activity: light
Required time: up to 20 minutes
Suitable for wheelchairs: courtyard yes
The Karlín barracks are a classical historical five-floor building located in Prague 8 – Karlín. The entrances are from the streets of Prvního pluku, Křižíkova and Vítkova. It is located next to the Vítkov hill and Negrelli Viaduct. Various units and facilities of the Prague military garrisons were located here, such as the garrison´s music band, the military police, headquarters or infirmary. The barracks are a considered a cultural monument and are protected by the Czech Republic.
History of the Barracks
In the 1840s, complaints about the poor quality of accommodation for soldiers in the capital of the Czech Kingdom were multiplying. Soldiers were often accommodated in former monastery buildings which were unsuitable for this task. In 1842 the Court War Council decided to build new barracks with the capacity for 2000 men. An expert committee selected a site behind the city walls near Poříčská gate. This choice was influenced by the fact that it was above the, then well-recorded, highest flood level of the Vltava river.
The budget for the construction was set at 400,000 gold coins. The land was purchased in 1844, and construction began the following year in spring. The barracks were built by entrepreneur Vojtěch Lanna during the years of 1846-1849, and at that time it was the biggest project of this kind in Prague. The building was approved and put to use in 1848. However, it was only officially completed and handed over three years later.
During the existence of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, the building was called Ferdinand´s barracks (named after the Emperor Ferdinand I, also known as The Good). After 1918 it was renamed to Karlín Barracks of Jan Žižka of Trocnov.
During World War II the barracks were used (like the elementary school in Lyčkovo square) by the Wehrmacht. During the occupation by the Warsaw Pact armies in 1968, the barracks served for a short time as provisional anti-occupational broadcast location of the independent Czechoslovak radio. Actress and radio anchor Ludmila Stambolieva reported here in Bulgarian and Serbocroatian languages.
In the 19th century, the barracks first housed the 8th Sapper Battalion, later in 1906 c.k. Infantry Regiment no. 91 of Field Master Armorer Knight Hubert von Czibulka (this was the regiment to which literary figure Josef Švejk belonged). In 1920 the barracks became the base of the 5th Engineer Regiment and in the 1930s there was also a military music school commanded by Major Jan Uhlíř. In the second half of the 20th century, the barracks housed various units of the Prague garrison: the garrison´s music band, the garrison headquarters, the infirmary, the military police or the artillery regiment, the National Air Defence Command Post, the Main Air Weather Headquarters, the 17th Signal Regiment, the 7th Army Signal Workshops or the Main Air Traffic Control Center.
In 1993 it became the home of the 6th Guard Battalion which was renamed in 1995 to the Guard of Honour Battalion of the Czech Army. During the years of 1997-2000 this battalion was part of Military Unit 1411 – The Prague Garrison. After the abolition of compulsory military service the barracks became the quarters of the Military Territorial Administration, the Reserve Officers´ Club, the Military Police and the Foreign Police.
In autumn 2016, the building was transferred from the Ministry of Defence to the Ministry of Justice. In June 2017, the barracks opened to the public at the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Karlín´s founding. Presently, the barracks host numerous cultural events.