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Invalidovna Building

by Lubor Kunc

First time published in the Czechoslovak Specialist No. 5 / 2002


ceský obsah:

Tento text se zabývá historií a filatelistickou dokumentací pražské Invalidovny stejne jako jejím poškozením povodní v roce 2002 . Pro ceskou verzi kliknete zde.



After the big flood in Bohemia in this year I was asked by many people what is the situation in Prague. First of all I should say, that Prague has been damaged so much as other parts of Bohemia - remember the sea created by Labe near Litomerice affecting about 30 towns incl. Terezin Monument of Jews killed by Nazis. But back to Prague. I am aware, that the Vltava River damaged National Theatre or Postal Museum, but I would like to draw your attention to another Prague sightseeing: Invalidovna building, which is situated in the most damaged Prague district Karlin, where the flood reached 3 meters level !

In 18th century it was decided to build in Prague houses for disabled soldiers of Austrian Army . Originally, 9 houses were planned to be built, but thanks to various problems only 1 of them was really built in years 1732 - 1737. Until now, it is called “Invalidovna”. Its author was famous architect Kilian Ignac Diezenhofer, who participated e.g. in building of St. Nicolaus Church situated in Mala Strana district of Prague and shown on Hradcany issue of 1918 (see the cupola and tower of a church in the right lower part of the stamps).

In front of the Invalidovna building you can find a statue of Earl Strozzi, who established a foundation for disabled soldiers (see fig. 1). The building is very important cultural monument of Prague, its importance demonstrates usage of the name Invalidovna for the part of the city - see card on fig. 2 : a card sent to Karlin district with detailed specification of its destination by mentioning “Invalidovna” area .

With uninterrupted period from 1737 the Invalidovna building served to the disabled soldiers of all wars . After WWI the building was used for disabled Czechoslovak legionnaires as well as office building for military purposes.

An example is registered letter from Austria sent to the Building with reguest to confirm number of service years in Austro-Hungarian Army. This requests were caused by establishing of Czechoslovak state – the information about soldiers originally serving in regiments from Czech lands were stored in the building and they must asked for it, when they want to get pension from ex-Austrian countries they were living in (see fig. 3). The Society for disabled soldiers had its seat there as well - see the fig. 4 - a cover sent by the Society to a lieutenant to Olomouc in 1931 .

Now the Invalidovna building serves to many institutions incl. the record office and military library of the Czech Army. Here are stored all documents relating to the Czechoslovak army from 1918, archives of SS troops etc.. Unfortunately, the building is in very bad condition, because of insufficient quantity of money it has not been properly maintained (see fig. 5 ; before the flood).

This situation was yet made worse by the current Prague flood. The flood went over the Invalidovna building and it heavily damaged stored documents as well as the building itself. Among the damaged property we can e.g. find 20.000 book of 19th century about military, which were damaged so much, that the head of the mil. library decided not to save them. The army now transports most important documents to cooling plants, where the documents can be kept until there is available sufficient quantity of money for their restoration. But it is clear, that only small part of the documents will be saved. The building after the flood you can see on fig. 6 - also with a white truck used for transportation of the documents to cooling plants.

It is a paradox, that in a park leading to the Invalidovna building a monument celebrating 20 soldiers died during last big flood in Prague in 1890 is situated ... . As you can see, not only injured soldiers have bad lots, sometimes the same destiny has a building as well . I hope, the Invalidovna building and the stored documents will be saved !


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