Holesovice Bubenec Dejvice

The outlying neighbourhoods north and west of the city centre are finally coming into their own in terms of quality restaurants. Most of the better places are clustered along the residential streets around and north of the Dejvick metro station. You'll find another grouping within walking distance of Strossmayerovo n m st . The far eastern section of Holesovice has seen a boom in property development but is still lacking in decent eateries, yet even here are there are some new names. Map...

Beer Gardens

On a hot summer day, what could be finer than sitting outdoors with a chilled glass of Bohemia's finest beer, admiring a view over river or city. Many of Prague's pubs have small beer gardens or courtyards, but the following summer-only spots are truly out in the open air. Opening times are weather-dependent, but are typically noon to midnight April to September expect to pay around 25Kc to 30Kc for a half-litre for beer. Letensky zamecek (Map pp132-3 Letenske sady, Bubenec) A slew of rickety...

Charles Bridge Statues

The first monument erected on the bridge was the crucifix near the eastern end, in 1657. The first statue - the Jesuits' 1683 tribute to St John of Nepomuk - inspired other Catholic orders, and over the next 30 years a score more went up, like ecclesiastical billboards. New ones were added in the mid-19th century, and one (plus replacements for some lost to floods) in the 20th. As most of the statues were carved from soft sandstone, several weathered originals have been replaced with copies....

Mala Strana

VETESNICTVI Map pp76-7 Antiques 257 530 624 Vitezna 16 S 10am-5pm Mon-Fri, 10am-noon Sat j 6, 9, 12, 20, 22, 23 This is an Aladdin's cave of second-hand goods, bric-a-brac and junk with, in all likelihood, some genuine antiques for those who know what they're looking for. There's affordable stuff for all, from communist-era lapel pins, medals, postcards, old beer mugs and toys to crystal, shot glasses, porcelain, china, pipes and spa cups, all presided over by a bust of Lenin. 257 531 894...

Great Czech Films

Amadeus (1985) - Until the Velvet Revolution, the biggest Hollywood production to be filmed here. Director Milos Forman chose Prague for his Oscar-winning tale of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart because it looked more like '18th-century Vienna' than Vienna - he even got to film inside the Estates Theatre, where Don Giovanni premiered in 1787. Beauty in Trouble (Kraska v nesnazich 2006) - By acclaimed director Jan Hrebejk, who holds a mirror up to Czech society, showing it warts and all. Czech...

Mendelssohn Is On The Roof

The roof ofthe Rudolfinum (p97) is decorated with statues offamous composers. It housed the German administration during WWII, when the Nazi authorities ordered that the statue of Felix Mendelssohn - who was Jewish - should be removed. In Mendelssohn is on the Roof, a darkly comic novella about life in wartime Prague, the Jewish writer Jirf Weil weaves a wryly amusing story around this true-life event. The two Czech labourers given the task of removing the statue can't tell which of the two...

The First Republic World War Ii

Czechoslovakia in the two decades between independence and the 1939 Nazi invasion was a remarkably successful state. Even now Czechs consider the 'First Republic' another golden age of immense cultural and economic achievement. Czechoslovakia's proximity to Nazi Germany and its sizable German minority in the Sudetenland border area, however, made it a tempting target for Adolf Hitler. Hitler correctly judged that neither Britain nor France had an appetite for war. At a conference in Munich in...

Outer Neighbourhoods

Clustered around the city's historic core are the largely 20th-century suburbs of Troja, Kobylisy, Kbely, Zbraslav, Barrandov, Stresovice and Brevnov. Except to visit the Prague Zoo and Troja Chateau, few tourists venture into these outer regions and you will often have the attractions here to yourself. Zoo Praha 296112111 www.zoopraha .cz U Trojskeho Zamku 120, Troja adult child family 150 100 450Kc S 9am-7pm Jun-Aug, to 6pm Apr, May, Sep & Oct, to 5pm Mar, to 4pm Nov-Feb B 112 from Nadrazi...

Spanish Birds Moravian Sparrows

Many Czech dishes have names that don't offer a clue as to what's in them, but certain words will give you a hint iavle (sabre something on a skewer) tajemstvi (secret cheese inside rolled meat) prekvapeni (surprise meat, capsicum and tomato paste rolled into a potato pancake) kapsa (pocket a filling inside rolled meat) and baita (bastion meat in spicy sauce with a potato pancake). Two strangely named dishes that are familiar to all Czechs are Spanelsky ptdcky (Spanish birds sausage and gherkin...

Prague Castle To Charles Bridge

Following the tourist crowds downhill from the castle via Ke Hradu, you soon arrive at Nerudova, architecturally the most important street in Mala Strana most of its old Renaissance fa ades were 'baroquefied' in the 18th century. It's named after the Czech poet Jan Neruda (famous for his short stories, Tales of Mala Strana), who lived at the House of the Two Suns (dum U dvou sluncu Nerudova 47) from 1845 to 1857. The House of the Golden Horseshoe (dum U zlat podkovy Nerudova 34) is named after...

Books For Your Backpack

Not much new Czech literature is available in translation, but there are still plenty of decent Czech writers available in Bringing Up Girls in Bohemia (Michal Viewegh, 1996) - Humorously captures the early years of newly capitalist Prague. The movie of the same name stars Czech actress Anna Geislerov and opens with Geislerov relaxing at the old Globe Bookstore & Coffeehouse in Holesovice - a classic intersection of art and real life. Closely Watched Trains (Bohumil Hrabal, 1965) - Hrabal's...

Football

Football is a national passion in the Czech Republic. The national team performs well in international competitions, having won the European Championship in 1976 (as Czechoslovakia), and reached the final in 1996 and the semifinal in 2004. Sadly, it crashed out in the first round of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, but bounced back to be ranked sixth in the world by FIFA in the run-up to Euro 2008, a ranking that seemed over-optimistic when the Czechs failed to reach the quarter-finals. Home...

Transport Vinohrady Vrsovice

Metro Line A runs east through Vinohrady starting at N m st Miru station. Tram Line 11 runs east along Vinohradsk and south down B lehradsk lines 10 and 16 run east along Korunn lines 4, 22 and 23 run east along Francousk , turning south to meet up with lines 6, 7 and 24, which also run east along Vrsovick . and wind up with a beer at the Riegrovy sady beer garden. 1 Peace Square (n m st M ru) Known affectionately to Czechs as 'Mir k' - a diminutive form of 'M ru' - this leafy square is the...

Music

Praguers have eclectic tastes, ranging from the ever-popular Mozart, who conducted the premier of Don Giovanni here in 1787, to Tom Waits, who sold out the Kongresov Centrum (Congress Centre) in a matter of hours for two concerts in July 2008. The rock and pop scene has evolved greatly since 1989, when it was dominated by dissident-era rock bands and highly influential (but well past their prime) international acts like the Velvet Underground and the Rolling Stones. Those bands were soon...

Wenceslas Square Around

Originally a medieval horse market, and more a broad, sloping boulevard than a typical city square, Wenceslas Square (V clavsk n m st , also called V clav k) got its present name during the nationalist revival of the mid-19th century. Since then it has witnessed a great deal of Czech history - a giant Mass was held here during the revolutionary upheavals of 1848 in 1918 the creation of the new Czechoslovak Republic was celebrated here and in 1989 the fall of communism was announced here....

George Street

George St (Jirska) runs from the Basilica of St George to the castle's eastern gate. Zlata ulicka admission with Prague Castle tour ticket S 9am-6pm Apr-Oct, to 4pm Nov-Mar Golden Lane is a picturesque, cobbled alley running along the northern wall of the castle. Its tiny, colourful cottages were built in the 16th century for the sharpshooters of the castle guard, but were later used by goldsmiths. In the 18th and 19th centuries they were occupied by squatters, and then by artists, including...

Kutna Hora

Now dwarfed by 21st-century Prague, Kutna Hora once marched in step with the capital and, with a little help from fate, might even have stolen its crown as the heart and soul of Bohemia. Enriched by the silver ore that ran in veins through the surrounding hills, the medieval city once enjoyed explosive growth, becoming the seat of Wenceslas Il's royal mint in 1308 and the residence of Wenceslas IV just under 100 years later. The silver groschen that were minted here at that time represented the...

Eating

Traditional Czech cuisine is a cardiologist's nightmare, a cholesterol-laden menu of meat, fat, salt and more meat, accompanied by high-calorie dumplings and washed down with copious quantities of beer. When it comes to food, the ultimate Czech put-down is to describe it as neslany or nemasly ('not salty' or 'not fatty'). But if you put aside your notions of healthy eating for a few days (you're on holiday, after all -live a little ), you'll find traditional Czech food to be very tasty. The...

Smchov

Eating p172 Drinking p190 Shopping p151 Sleeping p226 Smichov arguably deserves a reputation as Prague's most economically varied district. For years, it languished as a depressed industrial backwater that was (by some accounts) home to Prague's largest Roma community. At the same time, the hills southwest of the Andel metro station, not far from the Barrandov film studios, had some of the city's swankiest villas. These days, those jarring contrasts are seen in the area around Andel, which is...

The Underappreciated Alfons Mucha

Alfons Mucha (1860-1939) is probably the most famous visual artist to come out of the Czech lands, though his reputation within the Czech Republic is less exalted than it is abroad. Mucha's life and career changed almost overnight after a chance meeting in a print shop led him to design a poster for famous actress Sarah Bernhardt, promoting her new play Giselda you can see the original lithograph in the Mucha Museum (p104). The poster, with its tall, narrow format, muted colours, rich...

Best Breakfasts

Red Hot & Blues (Map pp88-9 222 314 639 Jakubsk 12 mains 200-500KC S 9am-11pm (M) N m st Republiky) Serves a range of Western breakfasts, including pancakes and maple syrup, and a full British fry-up the 'Home Run Special' (bacon, eggs, hash browns, pancakes and toast) will soak up the heaviest hangover, and lay a firm foundation for further debauchery. Breakfast is served to 11.30am weekdays and to 4pm on weekends. Kav rna Pavil n (Map p121 222 097 201 Vinohrady Pavil n, Vinohradsk 50...

Old Town Square

One of Europe's biggest and most beautiful urban spaces, the Old Town Square (Starom stsk n m st , or Starom k for short) has been Prague's principal public square since the 10 th century, and was its main marketplace until the beginning of the 20th century. Despite the swarms of tourists, crowded pavement caf s and over-the-top commercialism, it's impossible not to enjoy the spectacle tour leaders thrusting through crowds, umbrellas borne aloft like battle standards, with clients straggling...

Strahov Monastery

In 1140 Vladislav II founded Strahov Monastery (Strahovsky klaster Map pp70-1) for the Premon-stratensian order. The present monastery buildings, completed in the 17th and 18th centuries, functioned until the communist government closed them down and imprisoned most of the monks they returned in 1990. Inside the main gate is the 1612 Church of St Roch (kostel sv Rocha), which is now an art gallery, and the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady (kostel Nanebevzeti Panny Marie), built in 1143 and...

David Cerny Artistprovocateur

Czech artist David Cerny b 1967 first made international headlines in 1991 when he painted Prague's memorial to the WWII Soviet tank crews bright pink see the boxed text, p93 . Since then he has cultivated a reputation as the enfant terrible of the Prague art scene - his works often turn into major media events, occasionally with police involved. Like others of his generation, he is virulently anticommunist. When the Rolling Stones played Prague in 2003, Keith Richards wore a Cerny-designed...

Vinohrady Vrsovice Walking Tour

This walk see Map p123 covers a lot of ground but thankfully has few hills. It meanders along some of Prague's nicest residential streets, allowing you to indulge your inner real estate agent for a moment. In the first years after the 1989 revolution, apartments in Vinohrady were going for a song now they fetch prices that would not be out of place in Paris or London. You could plan a midmorning start, with a light lunch at Vinicn Alt n or a bigger meal at Mozaika, or an early afternoon start

The Myth Of Libuse

Fittingly for a city that embraces so much mystery, the origins of Prague are shrouded in a fairy tale. Princess Libuse, the daughter of early ruler Krok, is said to have stood on a hill one day at the start of the 7th century and foretold of a glorious city that would one day become Prague. According to legend, Libuse needed a strong suitor who would yield sturdy heirs to the throne. Passing over a field of eligible bachelors, including some sickly looking royals, she selected a simple...