If you leave the tourist area on Petřín, you enter an area that is no less interesting. We have moved away from the tourist stream and discovered the Strahov stadium and its surroundings.
Accommodation for Spartakiade participants
On the west side of Petřín we walk past line-like arranged, very uniform looking residential buildings. Today there is a student dormitory of the University of Prague with over 4700 beds and a hostel. In the past, these buildings housed the participants of the Spartakiade.
A Spartakiade was a huge sporting event that was held regularly in the former Eastern Bloc countries. In opening ceremonies, sporting competitions and other events the athletes met each other. As many participants arrived, huge accommodation and supply complexes were built. For example, we passed a huge cafeteria. At first glance, it looks like a swimming pool, but if you look through the windows you can see the charm of a large canteen. Even today it is still used as a canteen for the students.
Between the rows of houses there are some sports fields. But we were drawn towards the huge Strahov Stadium, which is located right next to these accommodations.
The huge sports stadium has been used in the past for gymnastics and mass events. In the beginning, events of the gymnastics movement Sokol, later the Spartakiades with up to 10,000 participants took place here.
I found some videos that not only show the opening ceremonies of the Spartakiade, but also very impressively the size of the stadium.
The Strahov Stadium was built in 1926, initially with a wooden grandstand, which was later replaced by a concrete grandstand. The entire field is surrounded by stands. The interior area measures around 206 x 340 meters. It is said that 220,000 to 250,000 spectators can be seated on the grandstands.
From the outside, the stadium looks dilapidated. Actually, we also thought that there would be no more sports facilities here. A look through the barred entrances showed us a completely different picture.
Today the interior is dominated by 8 soccer fields. Six fields have the standard size, two fields are reduced in size. In addition, the Sparta Prague office is located inside the stadium.
Today the soccer fields are used for home games of the second team of Sparta Prague and games of the youth teams. The grandstands are to be used despite their dilapidated condition. There are 56000 spectators allowed, but usually there are much less visitors.
We discovered an open gate and walked across a large parking lot located between the Strahov stadium and the Evžena Rošického stadium. Inline skaters were practicing here. Signs told us that many sports associations have their offices in the catacombs under the stands.
There is a drive-in cinema at one point of the huge grounds.
The huge stadium was also the venue for several rock concerts. Bands like U2, the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd performed in front of more than 150.000 spectators.
Free viewpoint – view over Prague
In front of the stadium there is a larger open space with an interesting tower. From the outside it is not visible what purpose this tower serves. I read something and found out that it is a ventilation tower for the car tunnel running under the hill. Exciting construction!
A few steps away, on a small boundary wall, you have a great view of Prague. Here you can not only see the old town, but you can look far over the city.