Saturday, 19 December 2009

Šporkova 12

Mrs Ambrosová suggested that before crossing the river I might begin my inquiries in the Lesser Quarter, which wasn't ten minutes' walk away from here, she said, I could try Šporkova, a small street a few paces uphill from the Schönborn Palace, where the register of inhabitants for 1938 said that Agáta Austerlitzová had been living at Number Twelve in that year.
─ W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz, tr. Anthea Bell, p.212.

After reconstruction work was completed in 1996, the building at Šporkova 12 has been the centre for Kongregace Milosrdných sester sv. Karla Boromejského [Congregation of Sisters of Mercy of St Charles Borromeo].
For over a hundred years it served as St Notburga Orphanage (founded in 1813) and in 1939 became a public boarding school run by the Congregation. In 1950 the school was nationalised; Šporkova 12 was now a House for Youth (soon afterwards the sisters were expelled from the associated hospital too and no longer had a seat with the Superior General). In 1970-1974 the building was reconstructed and resumed housing an elementary school. Šporkova 12 was taken from the State in restitution (under law 298/1990) by the Congregation and today serves as a hostel for its monastery sisters working in the nearby hospital Pod Petřínem.


  1. Dear Andrew Goodall,
    My name is Jérôme Combier. I am a French composer and I am working
    on an adaptation of Austerlitz for one actor, six musicians and video.
    this project will be created at Aix-enProvence Festival next summer. Pierre Nouvel (the videast and stage designer) and I, travelled around Europe to find the places mentionned in the book. In August we went in London and Wales, in january we were in Praha. We found, of course, Sporkova street and the number 12. We visited it and as you know we didn't find there the real entrance as it is described in the book (do you know, we found it, in another street ! not so far from Sporkova street …). We used to take some pictures during our travels, and I used to record some sounds. We will bring all those elements on the stage in july. Unfortunatly when we went in front of the Sporkova 12, there were some cars, and we did not manage to take a beautifull picture, not as yours. I wanted to ask you if you would agree to give the picture you took, for our show ? Do you think it could be possible ? Do you have one in a high quality.
    In advance, Thank you very much
    Jerôme combier (

  2. Aha, that solves a mystery! I was puzzled why the account in Sebald's Austerlitz seemed not to match what I found at Sporkova 12 when I went there in November (2009). Next time I am round that way I shall look for the other entrance that you found, not Sporkova Street...
    Very interested to hear of your Aix-en-Provence project (I found your collaboration with Pierre Nouvel on Beckett's Ohio Impromptu at
    with its light pulsation/music breathing alternating with text - perhaps some elements of Beckett's Words & Music in there too?) and would be most happy if you could have use for this or other images. I'll email with details of original specifications & see if any good for your purposes. Andrew