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Prague’s Grand Café Orient is the only cubist-designed space of its kind in the world. It occupies the first floor of the House of the Black Madonna, designed in 1911 by modernist architect Josef Gočár. Renovated in 2005, the spacious café retains the original silk-shaded hanging brass lanterns and marble-topped buffet-bar. Diners can enjoy such menu highlights as Prague ham and apple strudel, and then visit the Museum of Czech Cubism upstairs. Ovocný Trh 19, 420/2-24-224-240. Photo by João Canziani. This appeared in the October 2012 issue.
While farmers’ markets have sprung up all over Prague, the one that sprawls out near the Dejvická metro station is the most popular because of its location and size. On Saturday mornings, local vendors and farmers from the countryside set up their stands and offer a wide range of fruits, vegetables, juices, bread, pies, wines, and even fresh fish and oysters. Dejvická Station, Dejvice. Photo by João Canziani. This appeared in the October 2012 issue. Read "The New Bohemia."
Walk through the beautiful city of Prague and take in the sights while making your way to the river which surrounds the city. Be sure to stop by the Black Light Theater while you await your ferry ride. Once the sun begins to set find the nearest ferry (there are many) and pay the small admission price (around $3). Once upon the boat make your way upstairs to the very top and take in the sights, the castle and churches are the most beautiful when viewed at night as they are lit up by hundreds of lights.
Another shining symbol of Prague. You cannot go there without seeing it, or witnessing the show at the top of every hour. First installed in 1410, this magical landmark works still to this day.
Pivovarsky Klub literally translates to Beer Club. The restaurant and beer bar is dedicated to serving the finest Czech beers along with classic, rustic Czech cuisine. They offer 240 plus bottled beers (primarily Czech), and 6 Czech microbrews on tap at all times. Pivovarsky is always a snapshot of what's hot in the world of Czech brewing, which is expanding and evolving at local microbreweries throughout the country. Czech beer is no longer just great Pilsner and you can sample the latest innovations in beer expression here at Pivovarsky Klub. Come on an empty stomach so you sample some Czech favorites, such as Beer and Suerkraut Soup, Goulash and Dumplings or the mammoth sized portions of Roasted Pork Knuckle. Na zdravi!
I'm ordinarily a harsh critic of the plague of graffiti, which is found in most urban areas. But I draw a distinction when considering the John Lennon Wall in the Mala Strana District of Prague. After Lennon was killed a wall of the Anglo-American School served as a makeshift memorial. Officials painted over the tributes, but the graffiti always returned, and, over time, began to symbolize even more to the Czech people, who were still under the yoke of Soviets. The wall is always changing, as I saw last December. I had seen it 4 years earlier, and the current version was vastly different, while still maintaining the bright pastels and carefully drawn designs and messages. The picture of the heart was the centerpiece, and quite poignant. If you get to Prague, just walk across the Charles Bridge and turn left at the first street. You'll come to the school. Follow the wall around the corner to see this unique memorial.
You can't miss it. In my book it's a major symbol of Prague with all the jutted mini-towers. Makes one think of every castle any child has seen in their storybooks.
One of the most spectacular libraries in the world is at the Strahov Monastery in Prague. While it is a bit off the beaten path for most tourists, it really is a must-see. Over 125,000 classic and rare books fill floor-to-ceiling bookshelves at the monastery, which sits on a hill. There are two halls. The Theological Hall dates from the 1600s and features ornate, 18th-century Baroque frescoes on the ceiling. The Philosophical Hall (pictured) is truly spectacular - an 18th century creation built in the Classic style that features Greek frescoes and opulently carved wooden bookcases with golden accents. On the grounds of the monastery are also The Church of Saint Roch, an art gallery and a brewery with the best sweeping views of Prague - truly a wonderful, enchanting way to spend a beautiful afternoon.
Somewhat off the beaten path at Grand Priory Square, The John Lennon Wall is street art worth going out of your way for. The Wall is owned by the Knights of Malta and has been covered in John Lennon and Beatles-inspired graffiti since the 1980s. Once a cause for conflict between young people and Husak's communist regime, the wall is constantly changing. Bring your own paint or permanent marker and become a part of Prague, however temporarily (the wall is painted over regularly).
We took a tour that included this old Jewish cemetery. I wondered how the headstones could be so close together, and now I know. They had limited space, so they buried people in layers & put all the headstones for the layers together on top.
Trekking across the Charles Bridge and up the hill towards the Prague Castle called for a little snack. We happened upon this little stand, just behind the St. Nicolas Cathedral and right across from a giant Starbucks, and were intrigued. We watched as they rolled dough, wrapped it around a cylindrical spit, baked it and then dipped into sugar and nut mixture. I was sold. A fresh, warm Trdelník and cup of mulled wine was the perfect thing on a cold, snowy day. I watched the hoards of tourists filing into the Starbucks and wondered - why?
Day or night, it’s easy to get sucked into the Christmas Market in Old Town Square, Staroměstské Naměsti, in Prague. So grab a cup of hot honey wine and stroll through the lively festivities including angelic children’s choir groups and folk dancing troupes; metal-workers showing off their skills making hand-made door bells; and stall after stall of regional street food favorites like Trdelnik, the cuff-shaped fried dough covered in cinnamon sugar; homemade spiral potato chips; and Halušky, the mouth-watering mixture of miniature potato dumplings, cheese, cabbage, and bacon. Keep your eyes peeled and you might just happen upon the jolliest of pork slicers sharing the roast of the day. Pork is definitely the meat of choice and pride here in Prague, so go ahead and indulge.
One of my favorite things to do in a new city, is to find the highest tower there is and go to the top to get a birds eye view. This was from the top of Old Town Hall Tower, which gave a great view of the Old Town Square.
Because it was impossible to take a good picture without a tourist photobombing and due to my passion for photography, we decided to wake up at 5 in the morning and watch the sunrise on the Charles Bridge. The location of our hostel made this little craziness possible for us. I was able to capture the bridge with minimum tourists around and the photos satisfied us.
In Prague, the grand St. Vitus Cathedral is a wonder to see. Unfortunately it's lack of space outside makes it difficult to grab a good shot of the front of the building, so many have to settle for close-ups of the details. Surprisingly, this facade was created in the 1920s by sculptor Vojtěch Sucharda. One would think it would have been a longer time ago.
Architecture buffs will adore this quirky deconstructivist building on the banks of the Rasin, within easy walking distance of Prague's Old Town. Designed by Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunic and Frank Gehry, the Dancing House, sometimes called Fred and Ginger, is particularly notable in this city famous for Baroque, Gothic and Art Nouveau architecture. The building isn't open to the public, but if you must see the inside, you can take the elevator up to La Perle de Prague on the 7th floor for a (pricey for Prague) French meal with spectacular views of the city. The nearest underground station is Karlovo namesti.
I can't imagine there being a more beautiful city architecturally than Prague. I bought a "tower pass" to climb all the towers of Prague. It may have cost as much as 200 CZK but was well worth it for the exercise and for views like this. The Klementinum tower offers a 360 degree view of the city. Inside the modernized portion of the complex is a concert hall for classical music. I caught the tail end of the International Classic Music Festival and saw the Hungarian Philharmonic for the equivalent of about 18 USD. I highly recommend visiting Prague the last week of May.
Prague is a historic city with ornate architecture but is now notorious for its crowds of tourists. This is one part of Prague that provides a glimpse of how the city used to be--quiet, quaint, and beautiful. When I first found this neighborhood, I felt so fortunate to have found it, right in the center but seemingly a world away from the busy energy of the city center. Its walled streets, quirky houses and tiny art galleries provide a respite from the crowded walk that most visitors take from Charles Bridge to Prague Castle. To get there, stand with your back to the entrance of Prague Castle. Cross the square and take Kanovnicka a couple of blocks until the street Novy Svet. The restaurant U Zlaté Hrušky is a great place to stop for a meal. You can then wander the streets and stop by the Loreta, a Baroque church and cloister.
If you want to practice Czech, drink delicious beer, and avoid other tourists, U Zlatého Tygra ("The Golden Tiger") is your kind of pub. The late Václav Havel took former U.S. President Bill Clinton here to give him a taste of authentic Czech beer. Seats are generally reserved for the regulars, so arrive early. This is a local (capital-L) place, so leave your cameras and any other signs of tourist status at the hotel. The owner and staff tend to be cantankerous, but they'll be more receptive if you order in Czech.
Jakub Berdych’s “Raw Chandelier” (pictured) exemplifies the eclectic style of housewares and decorative objects at this shop. Both international designers and contemporary Czech artists are represented here. Rámová 3, 420/2-22-313-151. Photo courtesy of Qubus Design Studio. This appeared in the October 2012 issue.
Prague is the home of a large Vietnamese population, which is excellent news for foodies who constantly crave Vietnamese cuisine. During the Communist period, the Czechoslovak government invited Vietnamese people into the country as guest workers; after Communism collapsed, many decided to stay. If you have time to venture beyond the city, you can visit TTTM Sapa ("Little Hanoi") in Prague 4 or the market in the Malesice district in Prague 10 to eat delicious food, visit shops, and experience the community's culture. Otherwise, stop by the market in Holešovice for a delicious bowl of beef pho like the one pictured above.
If there is one place that needs to be on your itinerary for Prague, it is Letna Park. The park is perched on a plateau and is one of our favourite spots in the city. It takes quite a climb to get there, but Letna offers a truly spectacular view over the Vtlava river and the bridges of Prague. If you’re a photographer, this should top your list of things to do in Prague. Here you can click panoramic shots of Prague by the dozen. Make sure you stick around till sunset-the view of the Vltava river and the historic centre of Prague bathed in peaches and purples is second to none. And while you wait for the sun to set, go over to the Metronome in Letna Park - skateboarders from all over Europe come here to practice and film their skills. If that doesn't excite you, the sprawling Beer Garden that is nestled deep within the park most definitely will. A beer (or two) here is a sure-shot way of mixing with the locals and finding out more about the city's history and the other cool spots. Drop in to say hello!
If you traveling between 26 Nov till 06 Jan, you’d be fascinated by the Christmas Markets (or Vanocni Trh in Prague lingo) which are rated one of the top 5 in the World by Lonely Planet. Besides plenty of food and drinks, you can get hand-carved puppets, Bohemian crystals, Czech glasses, ceramic mugs and wooden toys. It's truly MAGICAL!
If you are looking for a quiet place to relax away from the thick crowds of central Prague, try Bethlehem Square. A 5-minute walk from Old Town Square, it is a quiet, calm refuge hidden away from the tourists. Named after Bethlehem Chapel (founded in 1391) which is located here, the square is just two blocks long and surrounded by fairy-tale Baroque buildings and several restaurants, cafes, local antique and book shops and a museum of African, American and Asian art. There is also a hotel if you want to stay in an ultra-convenient location but far from the crowds. I gladly spent an hour or more in this peaceful square, admiring the beautiful surrounding buildings and golden setting sun while enjoying a glass a wine. One of the most relaxing spots in Prague!
It was my last day in Prague. I had traveled there alone to do research for my fourth book & I had spent a week walking the city. Prague had fed my senses to overflowing already by this point; the architecture, the art, the attention to detail that was part of the pulse of the city & the food I'd enjoyed was no exception. On my final return trip to my hotel I spontaneously stopped at the Cafe Slavia, an Art Deco restaurant situated up the road from the Charles Bridge & across the street from the National Theater. By virtue of its location it had been frequented by many a famous actor, singer & writer. Sitting by the windows so I could watch locals and tourists weave together like interlaced fingers, I ordered a vanilla latte, having learned on my first day in town that Czech lattes were the best I'd ever had, and I complimented it with a poached pear, stuffed with minced nuts, wrapped in sweet dough & baked. Served with a drizzle of maple syrup this sticky, sweet & yet savory dessert was a stroke of divine inspiration! Each bite was a symphony of flavor & texture; the dough was flaky with a light hint of butter & melted away on the tongue, leaving the quintessential bite of pear & nuts in its wake. The pear was that magical texture which is only achieved during the five minutes a pear is perfectly ripe! The crunch of the nuts contrasted with the softness of the fruit & the silkiness of the latte made it an exquisite marriage of flavor, texture & scent.
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