Territorial development in the Florentinum area and its surroundings

In the Middle Ages, Florenc formed a part of the newly founded New Town of Prague and it was created on the initiative of Charles IV, the emperor and king, during the 14th century. Near the Florentinum, there was Poříčská brána (River Gate) which gave name to the street in the Karlín quarter called Za Poříčskou branou (Behind the River Gate) which reminds us of the gate even today.

Most of the houses in the area were built in the second half of the 19th century and they concentrated along the main axis - the trade route from the Centre of Prague to the East. This trading route is today´s Na Poříčí Street which continued into Královská Street (today´s Sokolovská Street) in Karlín. Coaching pubs had emerged along this important artery already before that, and during the Baroque and Classical periods, palatial houses were constructed. Some of them have been preserved to the present day in Hybernská Street, Na Poříčí Street, Petrská Street and other streets.

While Karlín became the industrial outskirts of the town with manufactures, factories and pauperist buildings from the late Classical period, the Florenc area was characterised as a representative town quarter in the land register. Monumental palaces of important businessmen and noble families in the style of late Classicism and Historicism mushroomed there, especially along Na Poříčí and Hybernská Streets.

Then, in the inter-war period, bank buildings were created in the area as well. Afterwards, during the Second World War, a huge printing company complex with a dominant parallelepiped tower was constructed in the inner-yard between Na Poříčí and Na Florenci Streets; its authors were Jaromír Krejcar a Bohumil Steingenhöffer. After 1948, this complex including the Palaces Bondy was owned by the Rudé právo publishing house. In 1970s, it was demolished and replaced by oversized buildings the construction of which led to demolition of precious buildings in Na Florenci Street - mainly the listed Novak Palace by the architect Antonin Wiehl and a part of the Desfours Palace, including a garden designed by the architect Josef Kranner. This remnant of the Communist Era has been removed and the Florentinum was built in its place, designed by the prominent Prague architectural studio Cigler Marani Architects.

The Florentinum designation and similar designations in Prague

There are many names of buildings or of whole building complexes with a Latin suffix "-um". The history dates back to Antiquity: for example Palladium (Palladium - originally meaning a statue dedicated to the goddess Pallas Athena, later figuratively a sacred object, worshipped place). The suffix is also added to names of buildings belonging to a church area the patron of which later gave name usually to a monastic, educational or social institution - a school, library and others. Later on, the designation could gain a new meaning. A good example is the name of a world auction house the Dorotheum which is derived from its seat in a building of the former order of Saint Dorothy in Vienna. The Clementinum is a famous baroque complex of buildings with a university library situated in the Old Town. Its important part is a church dedicated to St. Clement. Similarly, the Marianum designs a social institution in Opava by a church and monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary. In other cases, the designation can be derived from the name of an order (for example the Salesianum in Kobylisy quarter is a cultural centre founded by the Salesians order), or after an important personality. In Vienna, the educational institution the Theresianum is named after Maria Theresa. In the Czech Republic, the most famous example of this type of designation is the Carolinum complex which is named after the founder of Charles University Charles IV, the emperor and king. The Rudolfinum, a cultural centre the construction of which was funded by the Česká pojišťovna insurance company in 1970s, bears the name of the Habsburg successor to the throne, Rudolf, the son of Franc Joseph I.

Thus, the name of the Florentinum could be identified as a designation of a building which is located in the area called Florenc and refers to an important Italian city. This name is contextual, dignified, easily memorable and comprehensible in many languages. In the same time, it associates with positively perceived concepts linked with culture (Florence as the centre of the European Renaissance).