U Jána

(Plzeň) Plzeň Východní Předměstí
GPS: 49.746038N, 13.386002E

The area traditionally called “U Jána” is located in the spot where Nádražní Avenue used to reach the right bank of the Radbuza River. It got its name from the statue by Ottavio Motta representing the important Czech saint Jan Nepomucký / John of Nepomuk. This reproduction of the original work by John Brokoff (situated on the Charles Bridge in Prague) stood here as long ago as 1685. However, its exact location in this area has changed several times over the course of centuries. Since the year 1934, it can be found in close vicinity to Masné krámy.

The locality U Jána has been an important intersection throughout its history. Major routes leading from the historical heart of Pilsen passed through it – the road to Prague going east, the road to Písek and České Budějovice turning south. The orientation of these routes is still apparent today. The whole surrounding area, later called Na Vídni, was one of the primary foci of the expanding development of the Pražské Předměstí / Prague Suburb. 

To cross the Radbuza River, travellers used to take advantage of a ford until a stone bridge was built here in 1520, almost simultaneously with the construction of the Prague Bridge at Masné Krámy (for this reason the bridge at U Jána was also called the Second Prague Bridge). In the year 1558, St. Martin’s Hospital for the city’s poor was established on the northern side. It was abolished – similar to the fate of Mary Magdalena Hospital at the location U Zvonu – during Josephinist reforms in 1783. The 19th century saw the emergence of public houses offering services to coachmen passing through. First to open was the public house U města Hamburku / At the City of Hamburg in 1836, whose name is retained by the area called Hamburk on the south-east side of the crossroads (roughly where Hotel Angelo stands today). The second pub, U města Lipska / At the City of Leipzig opened at the site of the abolished hospital in 1841.

A significant event for the given locality as well as the whole city was the foundation of the Burghers Brewery in the year 1840. Over the course of time, the expanding premises of the successful company, spreading north of the street intersection along the Radbuza River, gradually incorporated the road leading north from U Jána to Doubravka. This route used to continue further on to Prague until it was replaced by a state road in the years 1811–1812.

The original stone bridge was replaced by a steel structure in 1888 (one of the reasons it was nicknamed Prague Iron Bridge). With the exception of railway bridges, it was the only bridging of the Radbuza River in Pilsen until 1913, when the present day Wilson Bridge was completed; at the same time it was the only link between the historical city centre and the central railway station and the Pražské Předměstí / Prague Suburb. Besides this, the tram route Skvrňany – Nepomucká Avenue passed through this place from as long ago as the year 1899. Probably due to this heavy utilisation, the steel bridge structure was replaced by a new one in 1914, and by a reinforced concrete structure in 1942.

In the inter-war period, the locality including the surrounding buildings underwent a radical transformation. First, a new administrative building of the brewery was built in the year 1920, completed by the representative director’s villa in 1931 realised according to the design of Hanuš Zápal and František Němec Jr. (C9–64). Together with the Neo-Renaissance gate, both buildings make for a stately entrance to the brewery premises on the north side of the crossroads. In the year 1933, low houses which used to stand in front of the villa were demolished. The vacant space was taken up by a bus parking place, serving as trolleybus turning post in the years 1941–1977.

The post-war development saw a fundamental transformation of the locality. The area was hit by air raids during the First World War, with house no. 15 on the south-west side being bombed in December 1944. Neighbouring houses were torn down in the year 1977 and replaced by the new building of the National Security Corps Directorate in the years 1977–1983, built to the design of Jaroslava Gloserová and Miloslav Sýkora. In the same period, a high capacity roadway left its mark on the area. This necessitated the construction of a parallel three-bridge complex across the Radbuza River and further demolitions. The original development is evoked by the housing block in Nádražní Street. As a result of the above-mentioned changes, the space U Jána turned into a single-purpose traffic zone from which pedestrians were ousted. Connection of the crossroads U Jána with the Central Railway Station via a high-capacity roadway in place of the one-time Sirková Street (i.e. where the street had existed before the demolition of the whole house fronts) in 1992 was another factor contributing to the area’s transit transport burden which still persists today. The tram track was transferred to the axis of the new road system and Nádražní Street was cut off by the intersection at U Jána.

The bridge U Jána was reconstructed in the year 1993, however it was seriously damaged during the floods of 2002. For this reason, it was replaced by a brand new bridge in the years 2005–2006. The most recent developments in this area are Hotel Angelo and the smaller Hamburk administrative building concluding Nádražní Street.

JČ – MK – PK


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