I like Kinsky Garden not only because it’s the closest park area to where I live, but also because I have a fond memories of the garden from when I was a child.
It was usually my grandmother who took me there for walks and I remember the rocks and ponds in the upper part of the garden. I also remember I was always a little scared going through the side door and steps entrance from Holeckova Street.
I’ve recently come across my grandmother and my grand aunt’s diaries and they also frequently visited the garden when they were young ladies back in the 1930s & 1940s. Both ladies still lived in the same house, where they moved in the 1930s with their parents and their other sister.
Why visit Kinsky Garden?
- Large woodland area with steep walking paths
- Used mainly by locals – not too touristy
- Great start to a longer walk to Prague Castle
Where is Kinsky Garden?
Kinsky Garden in on the edge of Smichov towards Lesser Town – Mala Strana. It’s on Petrin Hill and you can easily start your walk in Kinsky Garden and then carry on walking through Petrin Hill and Strahov Garden to Prague Castle. Alternatively, you can also walk down to Ujezd through Seminary Garden or take the Petrin Cable Car down.
If you want to take the less travelled route, you can always climb up to the top of the garden edge towards the Strahov Stadium and walk through Na Hrebenkach Street and Turisticka street and then follow the curb of the hill through a green woodland towards Spiritka, Ladronka to Vypich.
From there you can take bus or tram back to the centre or continue to Hvezda Gardens (The Star Gardens/Enclosure) or to Breznov Abbey where you can walk through yet another garden.
This garden originally belonged to the Kinsky family, who were a local well-to-do family and choose the Smichov side of the Petrin Hill to build their summer palace and turn the surrounding area into a beautiful park and gardens.
Before 1799 when Maria Rosa Kinsky bought the land, the site was used as vegetable gardens and slightly neglected vineyards. The original idea was to establish a fruit orchard, but Maria Rosa Kinsky’s grandson Rudolf Kinsky had grander plans and built the summer chateau and park inspired by the English Garden style. His widow Vilemina Alzbeta Kinska continued with the work.
The garden was initially designed by Frantisek Hohnel and later by Friedrich Wunscher. They established the two ponds, waterfall, rocks, greenhouses and vegetable garden. The whole area was changed and the final version of the park was finally established about 1860.
The lower part of the park, which is quite flat, consists of outbuildings (one is called Svycarna) at today’s entrance to the park, lawn with water feature in front of the summer chateau.
The upper part of the park has winding paths which take you to the ponds, rocks and the different lookouts.
At that time the park wasn’t open to the public, except on special days, when the Kinsky family wasn’t present and you had to buy a ticket to view the gardens.
The Kinsky family had other properties and by 1900 they lost interest in their summer residence in Smichov and wanted to sell it off to build new houses. I’m just guessing that because at the time Smichov was going through a huge change with more people moving into the area, Kinsky saw this as a sensible way to make good money.
At the same time, as Smichov become more and more of an industrial area, it was noisier and noisier and more polluted. What must have been a sleepy and quiet countryside retreat in the 1850s by the end of the century was just a tiny area of greenery on the side of an industrial town quarter.
Anyway, the Prague town hall together with Smichov town stepped up and bought the garden and the chateau for close to 1M Czech crowns in 1901.
The Kinsky family took all their furniture, paintings and everything they could take from their summer chateau and the for a long time the building was used as the as archives of the National Museum, which wasn’t open to the public. The gardens were opened straightaway to the public and this time the entrance was free! On the Petrin Hill side, the Kinsky Garden was divided by the Hunger Wall from the rest of the parkland. To solve this problem an entrance was cut into the wall and you can now walk from the Kinsky Garden all the way to Prague Castle. It’s worth at least walking up to the wall entrance because you can get a beautifully framed picture of Prague Castle.
My grandmother had her picture taken there in the 1940s and when you take the photo now you’ll see that nothing much has changed since then.
What to see in Kinsky Garden
The Ethnographical Musem of Native FOLK Culture – The Kinsky Summer Residence
The Kinsky Summer Palace is now being used as an Ethnographic museum that displays Czech and regional folk costumes, traditions and crafts. It was closed to the public for a long time and used as an archive, so it’s lovely to visit the inside of the house too.
There is a coffee place on the side of the building, which you can use without paying the entrance fee (which by the way is very affordable for a museum anyway, only 70ks)
The museum often puts on different events, such as traditional cake baking, dancing, special exhibitions, concerts or talks.
Lower & Higher Ponds
As you walk up the hill straight from the side of the museum, you’ll first see the smaller lower pond with a waterfall. There is a really good view of Prague and as you continue up the hill you can see a different view of Prague from each stop or opening in the trees.
Church of St. Michael
This is a very unique Orthodox church, which was originally built in 17 century in Carpathian Ruthenia. It was moved to Prague in the 1920s as a gift to the town from the Ruthenians. The church is very small, but beautifully built from wood. Until 2020, it was used for regular services and you could see people walking up the hill or from nearby streets to come to the church.
I was lucky enough to attend a service on St Stevens day in 2019 and it was a very special morning and humbling experience to be part of the celebrations. Most of the service was sung or chanted by the priest and many of the woman wore shawls on their heads. The inside walls of the church was covered in icons mostly of the Virgin Mary.
Sadly in autumn 2020 the building caught fire and despite the heroic attempt of a local fire brigade and many volunteers, it wasn’t possible to save the building. There is a commitment from the Prague Town Hall to rebuild the church and fundraising has already begun.
Prague 5 – Smichov – entrance from Holeckova/Stefanikova Street from Kinsky Square at foot of the garden hill.
How to get to Kinsky Garden
You can access the garden from Holeckova Street – either by the side entrance or where Holeckova Street meets the main street with trams (Stefanikova Street). The nearest tram stop is Svandovo Divadlo (Theatre) and you can get trams 6, 9, 12 or 20 to get there.
There is a free entrance to the garden complex and a small fee payable if you want to visit the museum. Access to the coffee shop is free too.
The coffee shop next to the museum sells drinks, snacks, cakes and ice cream. Toilets are available in the coffee shop for customers only.
There are no other toilet facilities, that I’m aware of, in the park until you get to the Petrin Lookout Tower or walk back to Smichov or Ujezd where you can find more coffee shops and restaurants with facilities.
What else you can find close by
Petrin Lookout Tower
Petrin Mirror Maise
Petrin Cable Car
STAY IN TOUCH
Hope this blog post inspires you and as ever I’d love to what you think! Let me know in the comments below or catch up with me over on Instagram.