November 12, 1903: Local authorities approve plan to build psychiatric hospital in Bohnice

Psychiatric hospital in Bohnice

Rapid industrial development and major social changes at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries increased the number of people suffering from mental illnesses. On November 12, 1903, the Provincial Committee of the Kingdom of Bohemia decided to build a hospital for mental patients in Bohnice near Prague which serves patients to this day.

Photo: Lenka Žižková,  Radio Prague International

The 303-hectare site with 28 pavilions once accommodated as many as 2,500 patients.

In addition to the three dozen pavilions, technical facilities were built: water tanks, a boiler house, power facility, kitchen, laundry, warehouses, workshops, administrative and residential buildings, an agricultural farm and the hospital’s own cemetery.

The architect of the building was the then well-known Václav Roštlapil, who, in addition to the Straka Academy and the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, also built a similar institute for mental patients in Vienna. Both of these institutes were at the time the largest and most modern in Austria-Hungary.

Photo: Lenka Žižková,  Radio Prague International

The architect Roštlapil is also the author of the Art Nouveau church of St. Wenceslas, which is located in the middle of the complex. After the communist era, when it served as a warehouse, it is now once again fulfilling its original purpose.

Hippo-therapy, music therapy and various festivals

Festival Mezi ploty  (Festival Between the Fences) | Photo: Mezi ploty

In addition to a department for the treatment of the most common mental illnesses, the Psychiatric Hospital complex has a psychiatry department for elderly patients with dementia, a department for the treatment of addictions (alcohol, drugs, gambling) and therapeutic workshops (ceramics, basket weaving, candle-making, bookbinding, woodworking, etc.). Hospitalized patients can participate in music therapy, hippo-therapy and other activities.

There is a theatre called “Behind the Fence” which is located on the hospital premises.  Various music festivals, such as the Babí léto (Indian Summer) and Mezi ploty (Between the Fences) theatre festivals, are regularly held at the hospital.

The whole complex has the status of a cultural monument.

Author: Klára Stejskalová | Sources: Český rozhlas , ČTK