Photographer: Åke E:son Lindman
Sveriges ambassad i Prag.
- Photographer: Åke Eson Lindman
Prague, Czech Republic, Embassy of Sweden
There is nothing to obscure the view from the Embassy of Sweden in Prague, which stands next to the Strahov Monastery and near Prague Castle. The steep hill below slopes all the way down to the Vltava River. The views take in extensive parkland and glimpses of the Charles Bridge over the river, creating a fantastic panorama of Prague.
In 2000–2001, the National Property Board Sweden (SFV) carried out an extensive refurbishment of the property, which now houses the Embassy's chancery, the Ambassador's residence and three staff apartments. In 2013, SFV strengthened the foundations around the lower part of the property and renovated the façade.
The property was built in 1928–29 for lawyer Josef Ruzicka and his wife Anna. They had to borrow money for the build from Josef's father, and in gratitude they had a bronze portrait of him built into the façade overlooking the garden. Created by the best engraver in Prague – Otakar Spaniel – it remains in place to this day.
The building was designed by architect Tomas Sasek, who managed to blended it in with the style of the surrounding Baroque architecture. One obstacle to the build was that the popular inn Na krásné vyhlídce "With the beautiful view" had to be demolished to make space.
Initially, the development was intended to be a single family home, but it ended up as a large building with space for four families. Sasek was given a free hand, and the result was a highly lavish affair.
National idol Eliska Junkova
It is an interesting fact that one of the world's first female racing drivers, Eliska Junkova, lived in the building from 1930. She drove for Bugatti from 1926–1928 and won several Grand Prix. Her husband Cenek died in a crash in 1928, just after he had changed places with Eliska in a race, and she gave up racing after that. She became a national idol and a small bronze plaque on the wall on Uvoz street explains that she lived in this building until her death in 1994.
Occupied by the Nazis
Peace reigned over the building for only 10 years, before being shattered by the Nazi occupation. Several of the residents were driven out or killed by the Nazis, including Josef Ruzicka. After the end of the Second World War, the Swedish State rented parts of the property from the widow Anna Ruzicka for its Embassy chancery and staff accommodation. Torsten Hammarström was the first Swedish post-war Ambassador in Prague.
The property was confiscated following the Communist coup in 1948, but the Embassy continued to rent parts of the building from the Czechoslovakian State. Josef Ruzicka's widow continued living here – but as a tenant in a confiscated building. Daughter Tatiana Ruzicka and her husband Veleslav Wahl, son of the family on the third floor, were arrested for resistance against the Communist regime. Veleslav was executed in 1950 and Tatiana spent 11 years in prison.
Swedish since 1993
After the fall of Communism in 1989, the Czechoslovakian State returned the building to its rightful owners – the Ruzickas' daughter Tatiana and son Primus. By now living in the USA, Tatiana donated her half to the Swedish State, which then bought the other half from Primus's family. Since 1993, the Swedish State has been the proud owner of the building "with the beautiful view".