They All Sit in a Row

Last week I mentioned that one option for parking cars was to park in the inner courtyard of your flat. Some of you may not get the idea of what I meant, so this week, I'll explain further. The apartment buildings here - which means most of Prague's older buildings - are built all connected together in one block.

When the buildings are the same color, they appear to be one long structure. This isn't unique to Prague. Many of the European cities that I've been in has this same arrangement with apartments that were built about one hundred years ago. The buildings are about five to six stories tall, with flats in the upper floors.

In many neighborhoods, the bottom floor is occupied by a business. In Old Town Square, many of the businesses are cafes, restaurants and pivovars (beer cafe) for all the tourists. In our neighborhood, a potraviny (grocery store), meat store, hair salon and realtor are on this first level.

Often the businesses are actually in a below ground area. Directly below our apartment, there is a hair salon, but you only see a small window and door. You step down several steps to enter the door and go down to the salon in what might be called the basement level. I'm not sure how businesses make it like that with little outside presence to announce their existence. (In this picture, our apartment door is the farthest door on the right.)

When we were touring the Zizkov Tower several weeks ago, I finally got a picture of how these apartments are built. Of course, I took the picture on the left to show you what I'm trying to explain.

All around us were groups of apartments, bordering city blocks, with the open courtyard in the middle -- a picture IS worth a thousand words. When you're standing on street level, all you see is rows of buildings adjacent to the streets. But from up on the tower, we could get the bigger picture.

Now you can see why a tunnel has to be put in the middle of this row of buildings to access any parking area within the courtyard. We don't have a parking area behind our flat, so there is no way to access our space behind the building except walking through the building.

I have no idea why the housing in Europe is built this way. It certainly gives solidarity to the neighborhood. I wouldn't be too afraid of tornado damage if one ever did come to Prague (not too many ever hit Europe). The buildings all hold each other up.


  1. Does your apartment smell like a hair salon?

    1. Not at all. There's a floor between us and the salon. The only thing we smell is the women who work there outside smoking during the summer when our windows are open. :)


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