• About plots on stamps ⁄ The Old Town mills in Prague

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    Lavka Novotneho 0The first reference to the Old Town Mills dates from 1347. Mills, except a customs house, belonged originally to the Old Town that had the privilege to use floating mills from king of Bohemia Venceslas IV on 26 May 1384 whose document preserved on the Hrádek of Kunratice (a small castle). 

    Lavka Novotneho 1  Lavka Novotneho 2

    The waterworks of the Old Town was built in 1489. Since 14th century the Novotného lávka has altered several owners, it was mostly named after them. Lávka (footbridge) was originally without an official name. In 1484 Lávka was called "Nové mlýny" (New Mills) that existed before foundation of New Town and there were divided into Bohemian and German part. From 1870 to 1885 it was called "Lávky staroměstské" (Footbridges of the Old Town) or simply called "Staroměstské mlýny" (Mills of the Old Town) or "Mostecké mlýny" (Bridge Mills). The footbridge accessible to the mills was named in memory of the miller Karel Novotný (1827-1900) under resolution of the Municipal Council in 1885. The well-known burgher of the Old Town and master miller deserved an iron footbridge constructed along the southern facade of buildings and thanks to him the footbridge was renovated at his own expense. The group of the Old Town Mills and the dominant water tower represent an interesting architectural row of buildings that creates an inseparable part of panorama of the Prague Castle (Hradčany) and Charles Bridge. This complex is situated in the centre of Prague that is listed as a historical conservation area. 

    Lavka Novotneho 3When the mills and water tower were burnt down in 1576 and fountains of the Old Town were without water, millers and owners of brewery decided to voluntarily increase their rates for water, and thus soon afterwards the water tower was erected again. The bank of the river was firmly settled by various kinds of traditional craft industries that needed the river water for their running, besides mills, as well as knife and sword grinders, dye-houses, baths, breweries and at last icemen working here in winter were dependent on water. All the mills of Prague were many times destroyed by floods and fires during the course of their existence, and therefore they were also reconstructed as often as it was needed. The Novotného lávka had suffered severe damage in 1648 while the Swedish soldiers whose heavy artillery located at the height of the Prague Castle having their target in the palms of their hands were besieging Prague. Similar situation resumed during revolutionary events in 1848 when the Novotného lávka had come again under attack from the artillery. It is worth mentioning that in the mills grain was crushed and ground to make flour until the first half of 20th century. 

    Before 1640 the Mills of the Old Town were not clearly defined in the municipal documents because there were not land registry numbers yet. The Mills of the Old Town on the Novotného lávka were for the first time numbered by topographical description in the book no. 63 Archive of Prague. 

    Number of the house 198/13, earlier number 505- The corner four-storey house was built after fire in 1879 as a building of the mill, in which malt was ground for Prague breweries and once rye flour was ground. In 1848 the house was re-built as a public bath, Karlovy lázně (Charles´Bath).

    Number of the house 199/9, earlier number 507 house - The mill "Šejdovna" with six mill wheels ground wheat and rye. Its name "Šejdovna" that appeared in documents in 1640 denotes a mill built above water on piles. The mill was divided into two parts in 1806. The mill was burnt down in 1848 and it was erected in Neo-Renaissance style in use of perimeter walls as a new one. Its rafters were repaired after fire in 1878. The dilapidated building was joined to an adjacent house of number 202 in seventies of 20th century, radically changed and elevated original floor building. The renovations for the former Czechoslovak Scientific and Technical Society were completed in 1982. Only the original facade of the house on the Novotného lávka and its perimeter walls are preserved.

    Number of the house 200/3, earlier number 507- The mill, called "Hever" [Jack] (also Brusírna, Trnkův mlýn [Grindery, Trnka´s Mill] having one wheel of the grindery and one mill wheel where wheat and rye were ground to make flour. It was re-built in a late Baroque Style in 1758. The house was on fire in 1848 and 1878, and afterwards re-built in Neo-Renaissance style. In seventies of 20th century it was renovated along with the houses carrying numbers 199 and 202 according to the project of architect J. Švastal designed for the former Czechoslovak Scientific and Technical Society.

    Number of the house 976/5 - The plot of the present house was in fact a part of the mill "Šejdovna" before fire in1848. Additional renovations were after fire in 1878 and there was a new building with a richly decorative Neo-Renessaince facade erected on the mill site in 1883. Its inner arrangement has been adjusted to the running of the ČSVTS House of Technology.

    Number of the house 201/1- The Mill "Myslivečkovský" named after its heir tenant Mysliveček. After fire in 1848 the Mill was renovated and expanded. Although the Mill was not damaged by fire in 1878, the condition of the municipal waterworks was so shabby that the municipality decided to mend the water tower and re-build the pumping station. In the second half of the 19th century there was a municipal waterworks built as the completion of built-up area on the Novotného lávka 5. The richly sgraffito-decorated building with articulated gables was built in the years 1882 -1884 according to the design of architect Antonín Wiehl in Czech Neo-Renessaince style. The outer sgraffito decoration attracts every visitor - sgraffito figures of the Thirty Years´ War (1618 -1648) designed by painter Mikoláš Aleš, František Ženíšek´s sgraffito "The Battle between Swedes and Habsburgs on Charles Bridge" and Jan Koula´s ornamentation. Sgraffiti were created by J. Šubič. The Smetana Museum named after Czech distinguished composer has been standing here since 1936. The Smetana´s statue by sculptor J. Malejovský has been displayed in front of the Museum since 1984.

    Number of the house 202/11, before 506 - On the site of the present building there was standing a small mill, called "Bouda" (Log Cabin) half the17th century. The interior of the building was re-constructed after fire in 1878. In seventies of 20th century the house according to the project of architect J. Švastal was incorporated into renovation designed for the former House of Technology of Czechoslovak Scientific and Technical Society. Only the original facade of the house on the Novotného lávka is preserved.

    Between house numbers 199 and 976 there is standing a tower, known as a dark tower that was built in 1606. High up on the tower there was a copper tank into which water poured day and night driven by water mill wheels. The tower water was distributed by approximately five water feeder lines into fountains and private houses. It was after gravity water system of Vyšehrad and the water pipe of the Prague Castle the third oldest water pipe in Prague. Only afterwards the water pipe came into being in the Lesser Town of Prague (Malá Strana).

    Lavka Novotneho 5

    The information was taken on web site of "The Aim of the Czech Association of Scientific and Technical Societes"




    Lavka Novotneho or Old Town Mills on stamps:


    Czechoslovakia 1946 - first and second issues

    Czechoslovakia 1949

    Czechoslovakia 1955

    Czechoslovakia 1961 - first and second issues

    Czechoslovakia 1962

    Czechoslovakia 1961 - first and second issues

    Czechoslovakia 1975

    Czechoslovakia 1978

    Czech Republic 1998

    Czech Republic 2007 - first and second issues