The Prague district of Podskali is now an upmarket residential area. But until around a hundred years ago, Podskali, on the right bank of the Vltava River, was more of a village, inhabited by rafters, timber merchants and people connected with life on the river. Only a few buildings survived the sweeping wave of urban renewal of Prague at the turn of the 19th century - and with them an interesting club, founded exactly 135 years ago, which to this day maintains the traditions of the river people.
In the Roman Catholic calendar, the second of November is known as the Day of Remembrance of All Deceased Believers. In popular language Czechs call the day Dusicky, All Souls Day. Throughout last week people were visiting cemeteries across the country, lighting candles and laying flowers on the graves of their deceased. On Sunday afternoon, an unusual ceremony remembering all those who lost their lives in rivers across the country took place on the Vltava River in Prague.
Walking downstream along the Vltava River from the Prague district of Vysehrad towards the centre of the city, you cannot miss a unique historic building, just past the railway bridge, that is very much unlike any other buildings in the area. Sunken about two metres below the surrounding ground level, the two-storey gothic building was bought in the 16th century by the New Town of Prague to serve as a customs house for timber trade. The customs house "na Vytoni" is one of a handful of historic monuments of the long-disappeared district of Podskali.
An unusual requiem mass took place on All-Souls Day in the Trinity Church close to the Vltava in Prague, remembering all those who lost their lives in rivers across the country, especially the seventeen victims of the August floods. The mass was organised by an interesting club with a very long tradition.