Borský park / Bory Park

(Plzeň) Plzeň Jižní Předměstí
GPS: 49.7230920, 13.3649539

Bory Park is the largest park area in the city. It is a distinct natural complex in Pilsen’s urbanism on an area of 39 hectares and spreads along the south end of the most significant of Pilsen’s boulevards – Klatovská Avenue – at the boundaries of the Southern Suburb. At the distinct terrain break at the railway line over the Radbuza River, it creates an imaginary western border of the city housing development. Adjacent to it is the České údolí water reservoir, another three recreational areas, and Pilsen’s Bory Prison.

The effort to cultivate the prison’s surroundings actually preceded the establishment of Bory Park. Most likely in 1884-1889, the prison warden Potůček had a small park set up between the building and the railway. In 1892, the head of the municipal forest authority Josef Sigmond had the clay pit at the prison ploughed up and lined with spruce, larch and birch trees. This first greenery and tree planting on the slopes above České údolí valley was complemented in 1914 by a newly founded park on the site of a former military training ground of the nearby artillery barracks situated at the point between the present Klatovská Avenue and Kaplířova Street. This was the result of efforts by the Union for Planting Orchards to Adorn the City, which had set out to make life in the city more enjoyable for its residents since its foundation in 1874.

The design of the park was created by Leopold Batěk, director of the Prague municipal parks. He interwove an originally smaller area at a width of two to three city blocks with a network of curved paths and a pair of transverse axes at the northern part. At their crossing point, he placed a central grass area lined by a circular path with lime alleys and a viewing axis oriented toward the silhouette of Radyně Castle less than nine kilometres away. The planting also involved two trees of honour – lindens commemorating Mickiewicz and Hus. Due to the events of the First World War, works on the park were soon interrupted and did not continue until 1919. The park, known until then as Guldener's Park, was renamed the Park of Czech Legionaries in honour of the soldiers fighting for the Czech lands and the new republic. According to the original design, it was completed only after 1926, when the city took over administration from the district. At that time its area occupied 25 hectares.

The first expansion took place in 1930-1931, when the southern slopes towards the railway line were cultivated. The city then used subsidies from the Ministry of Social Welfare for emergency works employing people affected by the economic crisis in landscaping and planting conifers. Today, these conifers are accompanied by deciduous vegetation. In the second half of the 1950s a forest park planted by “pioneers” (members of the Socialist Youth Union, a Soviet-style youth organisation formed by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia) and other inhabitants of the city in an organised voluntary event called “Action Z” was added in the east to the orchard – now called Bory Park.

On the contrary, in the 1960s a smaller part of the area was taken up by a tram terminus and a terminus for bus lines with facilities for drivers in the northern tip of the area at the crossing of Klatovská Avenue and U Borského Parku Street. At about the same time, tennis courts and other outdoor sports grounds were established in the northern part of the park adjacent to the new Bory housing estate. In 1971 and 1972, the indoor sports centre TJ VŠ Slavia was established.

After several decades, a ten-year-long renovation of the park began in 2006. The author of the revitalisation project was Pavel Šimek from the Florart studio. Grass was planted on the central meadow and furnished with an irrigation system; in the following years new park furniture was gradually installed, paths were adjusted and new trees planted. A children’s playground and adult training facilities were built in the final stage.

JČ – MK – PK