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The Former Charles Institute of the Blind at Klarov

Lesser town - Prague 1

GPS: 50°5'27.96"N, 14°24'36"E

 

The Square at the Lesser Town head-bridge of Mánes Bridge gained its official name Klárov as late as 1922 after the formation of Great Prague. It so happened in honour of Professor Alois Klar (1763-1833), who was a founder of the Institute for the Blind, which carries his name. Its extensive building with the former constitutional chapel of St. Rafael is located in this area beside the former riding-hall of Valdštejn Palace and Malostranská metro stop.

As mentioned the institute was founded by a well known philanthropist Alois Klar originally in a small house at Velkopřevorské Square with room for only four inmates. His work continued even after his death thanks to his son Paul Alois and his grandson Rudolf Maria. It is precisely Paul Alois to whom we can give the credit for the building construction, which bears the number 131, in Klárov in an area at that time called Pod Bruskou.

The plan for the two-storied building (later of Empire style) was elaborated by Arch. Vincec Kulhánek. The construction was carried out during 1836-1844. The foundation-stone for the constitutional chapel was laid on 18th September 1836 and its design was prepared by Josef Ondřej Kranner.

The steeple of the building is located above the central buttress at the forefront. It is of tetrahedral construction. The gallery with coupled windows through which we can see the bell is situated above the tower clock. The steeple roof is polygonal with a spire and finial on the top.

An impressive relief by sculptor Josef Max can be seen under the tower in the tympanum of the facia. It represents a biblical scene of Tobias putting a miraculous cream, made of fish liver and prepared by Archangel Rafael, onto his blind father’s eyes, which brings back his sight.

Klar’s Institute for the Blind at Klárov has been used for different purposes for a long time now and is not open to the public. The only exception is the former constitutional chapel, which holds the occasional classical music concerts.