Prague: A day in the Zizkov neighborhood
By Joann Plockova in Prague—
Prague is comprised of 22 administrative districts (referred to as Prague 1—or “Praha 1″ in Czech, Prague 2, Prague 3 and on and on). However, when Czechs refer to the area or neighborhood they are in, they use the cadastral area name as opposed to a number.
To clarify, look at the street signs (red rectangular signs with white lettering, located at the beginning of the street on the side of a building) where you’ll see the name of the street, with the name of the cadastral area below it, followed by “Praha 1″ or whichever district number you happen to be in.
For this post, we’re going to the area of Zizkov (located in Prague 3). This will begin a series of three posts dedicated to a particular neighborhood of the city, which I highly recommend venturing into. Each will include a look at several spots to visit to experience the area (essentially a full day’s worth of activity!).
Zizkov at a glance
I’ve heard Zizkov referred to as the “Harlem of Prague.” Not knowing Harlem, I can’t say whether the comparison is true, but I understand that the reference was made to convey Zizkov’s slightly edgy feel (in comparison to areas in the dead center, like Old Town or New Town). I personally recognize Zizkov for its numerous bars, clubs, restaurants and cafes. To me the neighborhood feels like a place where people live as opposed to a place where people did live that got turned into a tourist area.
Here’s where to go:
1. Something to start the day
Víta Nejedlého 487/23
130 00 Praha 3
Hours: Mon-Fri, 10 a.m.-11 p.m., Sat and Sun, noon-11 p.m.
Serving breakfast (as well as lunch and dinner), which of course includes coffee, this well-designed café’s name refers to the art gallery it contains. (“Pavlac” means gallery.) Although the gallery doesn’t seem to change very often, the interior of the space is, in itself, something pretty to look at. Its centerpiece is a steel bar with a swirly design made from tiny points that light shines through. Don’t miss the garden courtyard in summer!
2. Something to see
Vitkov National Memorial
U Pamatniku 1900
After a coffee, get your blood pumping further with a big hike up the hill to Vitkov. Completed in 1932, this robust functionalist building was recently reopened after a two-year renovation (and several years remaining functionless). It contains the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and a gigantic statue that you can see at various points throughout the city: the Hussite leader Jan Zizka on a horse (it’s said to be the largest equestrian statue in the world).
The memorial is also now home to the museum of modern Czechoslav and Czech history. Its café offers an exceptional view of the city, which you can actually view best via the building’s look-out point (80 Czk). Of course you can opt to skip all that and just grab a bench or a spot on the grass in the park next to the memorial. The views from the park are stellar, as well!
3. Something to eat
130 00 Praha 3
My pick for lunch doesn’t serve Czech food, but rather some of the city’s best Greek dishes. Think hummus, tzatziki, grilled meats, ouzo and baklava served in an atmospheric courtyard setting. Although the prices are just fare, you can save a bit by making a meal out of hot and cold starters. Getting a good table for lunch at the Taverna Olympos is usually pretty easy, but it wouldn’t hurt to make a reservation (which is a good idea on the weekend and necessary for dinner).
4. Something to buy
130 00 Prague 3
Owned by an Australian and Czech couple, this eclectic shop offers home accessories, clothing, jewelry, bags, toys and various other limited edition gift options. Personally selected by the duo, they write on their website, “We source our products and suppliers personally. No bulk manufacturing, no middleman. We try to find our way to the artisans, designers and skilled workmen to collaborate with them to produce unique products that we can then present to you.”
5. Something to drink and beyond
130 00, Praha 3
Comprised of a big hall, a small hall, a theater bar and a café and restaurant, Akropolis is a mainstay of culture in Prague. Featuring acts from all over the world, this music, theater and drinking venue is so many things (sometimes all in one night) that you can’t help but have a great time there. Descend into its labyrinth for the evening and you’ll most likely emerge (chances are, at the crack of dawn) with memories of a night that you’ll hold dear forever.