At the beginning of everything there was the journey of Václav Maria Havel to California in 1924. There, he was captivated by the American garden cities and especially the Cliff House, a restaurant on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean near San Francisco.
After returning to Czechoslovakia, Havel decided to make his dream come true. He intended to build a garden city in Prague according to the American style with all its amenities. Barrandov Terraces were designed in 1929 by the architect Max Urban.
On a rocky promontory "Hrabová" nadVltavou a restaurant building with observation tower was built. It was surrounded by three terraces, ending in the southern edge of the night bar Trilobit. The swimming pool with diving board was built under the rock.
The terraces have quickly become a popular place for a visit, the centre of social events, a meeting place of the Prague cream of the society, artists, movie stars, producers and politicians. However, the glory Barrandov did not last long.
During the World War II, German soldiers sat there with the Czech prostitutes. After the war, the building was nationalised and served the people. After the fall of the Communist regime, the importance of the terraces declined, the restitution occurred, and in 1997 the terraces were closed.
After 15 years, the whole area fell inevitably into disrepair. The once-prominent places where together up to 3000 visitors a day used to sit, where the ladies of high society, used to sip their coffee while their husbands talked business, became a ghost town.
Once elegant functionalist building with observation tower, attracting with its white facade, turned into a ruin. The days of the elite company and restaurant reservations are gone.
In the context of the complex, architect Urban designed a trio of stepped terraces, linked to each other through stairs and crowned by a gazebo, where musicians performed. Each segment of the terraces had its own operation to ensure privacy. Each segment of the terraces had its own operation to ensure privacy.
In the southern part of the complex the famous nightclub Trilobit was located. A place for the exuberant First Republic partying that lasted until the morning. The American-style wooden structure was built according to a design by the architect Vladimír Grégr in 1937.
In the bar Trilobit, the R.A. Dvorský Orchestra performed regularly and there was a large fireplace where the most significant guests used to start a fire, for example Lída Baarová. In 2001, the object, inhabited by the homeless at that time, burned down.
Under Barrandov Terraces an outdoor swimming pool with a diving board was found, the bleachers for 4000 spectators, several tennis courts and a boathouse. Towards the Vltava River, past the Strakonická road and the railway, the swimming pool followed.
The swimming pool, as well as the stepped terraces, were in a few years grown through with natural greenery. Instead of a stream of visitors, a security guard with a dog passed by once in a while. Once famous place has become a jungle, a reminder of its glorious past.
Particularly impressive is a reminder of the former diving board, soaring over an empty swimming pool surrounded by lush vegetation. Though it lost its metal handrails, its undisputed elegance remained.
Until recently, the twenty metre high light masts, which provided light throughout the night, used to be another relic. In the spotlight, as well as in the nearby film studios, the Czechoslovak film star used to sit there.
The swimming pool under the Barrandov Rocks stopped working in connection with the completion of the swimming pool in Podolí in the 1960s. It always had the disadvantage that due to its orientation it was under a rock, in the shade, therefore cold.
The idea of reconstruction is out of the question. The place is poorly accessible and its quality disrupted by the presence of the busy Strakonická Street, and the Barrandov Bridge.
After years of decay, the new stage of Barrandov terraces began in the summer of 2016. A hotel will be built on the site of the outdoor terraces, however, the heritage-listed restaurant building will be reconstructed and reopened to the public.
The torso of Trilobite bar and its legendary fireplace will be replaced with the new construction. However, still a better compromise than the inevitably doom of the terraces, which was indeed not that far away. We can only look forward that the project goes well and one day we will have a coffee at Barrandov Terraces.