Špitálský les / Hospital Wood

(Plzeň 4) Plzeň Doubravka
GPS: 49.749316, 13.424324

In the area north of Rokycanská Avenue, almost at the very edge of the Doubravka neighbourhood, lies one of several Pilsen forest parks – Hospital Wood. Until the end of the 19th century, the land covered by the present woodland was owned by St. Mary Magdalene Hospital, founded in the middle of the 14th century by the Pilsen burgher Konrád of Dobřany in Hospital Suburb (later the Prague Suburb) east of the city walls.

The present character and size of the forest park differs significantly from the original wood. On its western, southern and northern sides it is surrounded by a diverse development of family and apartment houses, school buildings, technical buildings and garages. In the east, the wood is crossed by Hřbitovní Street, separating a smaller part of the area along the wall of today's Central Cemetery. In the second half of the 19th century, however, the Hospital Wood extended into the area of ​​the cemetery and continued on the opposite side of the imperial road, now Rokycanská Avenue.

In 1895, the city chose this land as the most suitable for the construction of a new central cemetery, which was to replace the no longer hygienic or sufficient burial grounds in the suburbs. Although relatively close to the city centre, the area provided enough space and it was not difficult to acquire the plots, since the hospital had been under the municipal administration since the mid-15th century. The city exchanged them along with the hospital for land on the nearby Chlum Hill. Subsequently, the town administration carried out extensive felling in the Hospital Wood.

Until the early 1950s, agriculturally cultivated land spread around most of the wood, with several houses standing only between its border and Rokycanská Avenue. Development of the surrounding areas started gradually as part of the post-war development of Doubravka; only in the late 1960s were blocks of flats of the Doubravka housing estate constructed in the immediate vicinity of the wood along with three nursery schools and primary schools. The large plots along the northern border of the wood remained vacant until the turn of the millennium, when detached and terraced houses began to be built along Lísková Street. Approximately at the same time, three apartment buildings and a home for the elderly were constructed near the intersection with Mohylová Street.

In 2002, the residents of Doubravka took part in the Tailor-Made Park project, where they proposed and subsequently approved modifications to the forest park together with architects. In the following years, locals also participated in the actual implementation of the project. Gradually, a number of trees and shrubs were planted, and new benches and play elements for children were installed. A few years later, the city district initiated the design of a large sports complex. A sports ground with artificial turf, a paddling pool, cycling paths, an in-line skating track, a small building with refreshments and a parking lot were to be established here. The project, however, encountered objections from some politicians and citizens, who feared excessive interference in a quiet place, and it was eventually rejected. Instead of the complex, only a multipurpose playground on the northern edge of the forest and a “fitness trail” with outdoor fitness equipment along the paths was built.