Landscape Festival seeks to reignite neglected areas of Prague

After a two-year break, the annual Landscape Festival will return to Prague over the summer months after launching on Thursday on Vítkov hill. Featuring a wide range of musicians and artists, the free festival aims to draw attention to forgotten public spaces and urban landscapes in the capital by transforming them into cultural hubs. The festival’s coordinator, Jakub Hepp, told me more about why Vítkov is seen as so special, and how the organisers intend to bring forgotten parts of Prague back into the spotlight.

Vítkov hill, photo: Jolana Nováková / Czech RadioVítkov hill, photo: Jolana Nováková / Czech Radio “Vítkov is a really important and unique landmark in the centre of Prague. It is also a national symbol and an important part of Czech history was written right there. As the country is currently celebrating its 100 year anniversary since the founding of the republic, we decided to place it right there.”

The launch is at Vítkov, but there is no central venue for the festival. Why is that so?

“There are many locations around Prague which are forgotten and 'wild'. We have chosen three of them: Štvanice Island, Rohan Island and Vítkov with its surrounding area of lower Žižkov. We are just trying to create an alternative tourist path to show these areas to people and guide them to through what we call 'Prague’s wilderness'."

Is this aim to reignite previously neglected areas the reason for why you are working closely with architects and urban planning organisations at this festival?

“Yes, that’s pretty much it. We are just trying to show some ways and options. It is something we call ‘urban acupuncture’. We are trying to stimulate those places and hope that the organism called the city of Prague will work better.”

This festival has been going on for six years and one of the most famous venues which was reignited, is the Nákladové nádraží Žižkov, the Žižkov Loading Station. For you personally, which of the locations from this year would you most like to see reinvigorated?

Štvanice island, photo: Štěpánka BudkováŠtvanice island, photo: Štěpánka Budková “Me personally, I would prefer Štvanice, because this island has great potential. There is an old building there from the thirties called Fuchsova kavárna and it is really devastated so we just opened it up to the people and set up a gallery in it. Inside there are some exhibitions, art and some presentations about the island and its possible future.

"Apart from that there are around twenty other site specific installations and architectural interventions that are all around the island. There are many different spots and topics. Some of them are just art while and others people can really use and enjoy.”