Prague's Karlín Barracks to Re-Open as Summer Cinema & Cultural Space

Prague's Karlín Barracks to Re-Open as Summer Cinema & Cultural Space

The decaying Karlín Barracks (Karlínská kasárna) on Křižíkova street in Prague 8 have long been an eyesore in the neighborhood surrounding the Florenc bus and metro stations.

Built in the 1840s as an accommodation for soldiers in Prague (hence the name), the building, which spans an entire city block from the Negrelli Viadukt at Prvního pluku to Vítkova street, was the largest building of its kind in the city at the time of its construction.

During WWII it was occupied by the Nazi Wehrmacht; during the 1968 Warsaw Pact Invasion, independent Czechoslovak Radio briefly took refuge in the building to air anti-occupation broadcasts. Currently, it is home to one branch of Prague’s Foreign Police, among other official bodies.

 View of the Barracks courtyard via Petr Vilgus / Wikimedia

View of the Barracks courtyard via Petr Vilgus / Wikimedia

Since the dissolution of compulsory military service in the 1990s, the Barracks no longer serves its original intended purpose, and is quite literally falling apart; walk by the exterior of the building, and you may risk getting conked on the head by falling debris.

While the city has been unable to sell the property - a 2013 proposal north of half a billion Czech crowns eventually fell through - they’ve found at least a temporary tenant in Matěj Velek, a “cultural developer” whose team was previously responsible for transforming the disused Žižkov Freight Station (Nákladové nádraží Žižkov) into a similar cultural hangout.

Velek signed a three-year contract to occupy at least part of the Karlín Barracks earlier this year, and his team has been hard at work renovating the interior courtyard.

This weekend, the fruits of their labor will pay off as Karlínská kasárna will celebrate its grand opening weekend with a pair of movie screenings.

Today, June 23, the venue will open its doors at 17:00, and at 21:30 screen its very first movie: Raving Iran, a new documentary about two Iranian DJs trying to set up a concert in Tehran. The film, which will enjoy its Czech premiere at the new venue, will be presented (primarily) in Persian with Czech subtitles.

Tomorrow, June 24, the new cultural space will present a more familiar choice: the 1987 buddy cop classic Lethal Weapon, starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover.

Entrance to tonight’s film, screened in cooperation with Prague’s One World documentary film festival, is free of charge. Subsequent films will start at 21:30 for a 70 CZK admission.

Further screenings and events have yet to be announced; exactly what can be expected from the new cultural space remains to be seen, but keep an eye on the Kasárna Karlín Facebook page for more information and future screenings and other events.

Lead photo via ŠJů, Wikimedia Commons

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