The modern district of Karlín was originally called Hospital Fields, as the land consisted of numerous fields and a hospital belonging to the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star, a religious Order established by St.Agnes of Bohemia in 1233 and devoted mainly to offering medical care.
Around 1790, Jan Ferdinand Schönfeld (a pressman from Prague) built a paper mill and a summer residence “Rosental”, whose halls served as a theater stage. Gradually, “Rosental” caught on as the name of the entire district – a popular destination for outings for Prague’s residents.
In 1817 the district was officially renamed Karolinenthal – Caroline’s Valley – after Caroline Charlotte Augusta of Bavaria, wife of Emperor Francis I of Austria. The few inhabitants of the area did not protest against the new name as Caroline Augusta was very popular. She was beautiful, well-educated, and interested in literature. She consistently took care of the youth and the poor, and it was she who got the Austrian dramatist Franz Grillparzer’s “King Ottakar’s Rise and Fall” to be played without censorship. Soon, however, the name was shortened to the Czech version- Karlín.
Not far from U BRÁNY Apartments, on Na Poříčí street, is the railway viaduct. This imposing structure of stone arches actually integrates the old Riverside Gate (also called St. Peter’s Gate and the Hospital Gate), which was built in 1348-1349 and served as one of four initial entry points to the New City, allowing citizens of the Old Town to travel to Prague’s Eastern suburbs. In 1663, the Gate got a new, baroque look. In the 1690s, however, it was completely demolished as its original structure was considered functionally outdated. The final, neo-Renaissance version of the Gate was completed in 1859. It consisted of three identical semi-circular arches. The main passage in the middle arch was decorated with the Franz Joseph I (František Josef I) sign.
Today the arches of the old gate are a well-known local monument, and one of the city’s summer cultural spots. Between June and October, it offers a range of entertainment activities, such as beach volleyball, dance, yoga and aerobic, ping pong tables, a huge trampoline, sports equipment rental, etc. Various concerts, lectures and courses are held here, while the contemporary art gallery and the food court provide the visitors with extraordinary shopping options.
At the same time, new types of warfare were gradually making the city fortification less and less important. Due to a lack of financing, the city gates were ignored and fell into disrepair. As a result, around 1860s František Josef I decided to make Prague an open city. In 1875, the Gate ceased serving its original function.
Between 1875 and 1972, it constituted an integral part of the Austrian Northwestern Railway, which was built by the North-Western Austrian Train Company to link Prague to the Imperial rail network.