The Wanderer’s Way: A Curated Guide to PragueOctober 8, 2014
Long on history and even longer on charm, it’s easyand perhaps even recommendedto get lost in Prague. Rather than trying to bend its directional will to yours, we suggest you giving in and having yourself a wander through this plucked-from-a-fairytale city, like we did on our October catalog shoot. Meander through its cobblestoned streets and allow yourself to be surprised when you come upon one of the courtyards that suddenly appears, seemingly out of thin air. Follow the melody of classical music that floats on the wind nearly everywhere you go. Take in the impossible pastelscan a building really be that shade of creamsicle?on the neoclassical facades, the gilded details on the moody Baroque churches, the architectural eye candy lurking around every bend.
Of course, an end point is often useful when one sets off on an adventure. So allow us to present our slightly offbeat suggestions for how and where to roam while visiting the City of a Hundred Spires.
WHAT TO DO
Å“Prague is my favorite romantic cityI think it rivals Paris. One morning, I woke up at 6 a.m. and walked over the famous Charles Bridge before any of the tourists arrivedit was just photographers and joggers and me, looking out over the Vltava River with the fog rolling in. I can’t think of a better way to capture what Prague’s really about than seeing it there, at that time of day. Lilian H., art director
Å“A visit to Prague Castle is on everyone’s list. Before entering its grounds, past the very serious guards, check out the mesmerizing sgraffito on the Schwarzenberg Palace and then head straight to the Lobkowicz Palace, which was my absolute favorite and considerably less crowded.Once the private home of one of the oldest Bohemian noble families, Lobkowicz now houses a collection of priceless artwork, ancient delftware, original manuscripts from Beethoven and Mozart and a room devoted to oil paintings and photographs of the family’s dogs throughout the centuries. I couldn’t resist snapping a pic of Nero, a pipe-smoking dachshund, who belonged to a Lobkowicz prince. Kirsten H., brand editor
Å“I can’t recommend this experience enough: I went to a church to hear the ËAve Maria’ performed by the Prague Opera; I recorded a video and listened to it as I wandered the streets. It was amazing to hear the passion in their voices mixed with the fairytale architecture at night. Kelly C., stylistÅ“The synagogues in the Josefov, the old Jewish quarter, are so powerful and moving in their history. The Old-New Synagogue is the oldest in Europe, while the Spanish Synagogue has spectacular vaulted ceilings and intricate gold designs (pictured). The Pinkas Synagogue affected me mostit was turned into a memorial to the nearly 80,000 Bohemian and Moravian victims of the Nazi genocide with every one of their names written on its walls. Lilian H.
Å“The Kampa, Prague’s contemporary art gallery is such a cool counterpoint to the older, more traditional vibe of the city. I couldn’t get enough of David „Å’ernƒ½’s oversized Babies sculptures on display outside. And the Å“Fred & Ginger Dancing House is a little bit of Frank Gehry that somehow manages to look right at home amid the Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Take an elevator ride up to the top for a can’t-miss view. Kirsten H.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
Å“café Savoy is like stepping back into the Belle Epoqueit’s a true grand café with soaring, painted ceilings, waiters bustling around and glass cases lined with colorful Czech pastries. A midafternoon snack of ovocné knedlƒkydumplings stuffed with apricots, topped with fresh, soft cheese and served with drawn butter and powdered sugarwas just the thing to keep us going on our travels. Kirsten H.
Å“We sat on the second floor balcony of the Grand café Orient, drinking wine served by very flirty waiters and watching the world go by below. Not only is the vantage point pretty amazing, but the building itself, the House of the Black Madonna, was the first Cubist structure ever built in Prague. Kelly C.
Å“Trdelnik are probably the most touristy, least authentic thing you can eat in Prague, but that doesn’t make them any less delicious. These sugar-sprinkled pastry shells, cooked over an open fire and lined with dark chocolate if you chooseand why wouldn’t you choose?are a messy, gooey thrill. Kirsten H.
Å“On my last day in the CZ, I had my farewell-to-Prague feast of wine-soaked plum crepes at the adorable café Cukrkavalimonada. Heaven. Lilian H.WHERE TO SHOP
Å“I loved going to the outskirts beyond the tourist districts. I found so much antique Czech glass in the Vinohrady district, along with wonderful textiles and ceramics at the Kolbenova Flea Market, which is a bit of hike from the city center. I also came home with some really beautiful textiles from Antique Ahasver in the Old Town. Kelly C.
Å“ART„Å¡L, tucked just under the Charles Bridge, has a well-curated mix of Czech items, in addition to handmade Bohemian glassware. I can never resist a notebook and I found some unusual ones here. The staff couldn’t be more helpful and they produce a wonderful guidebook, which came in especially handy! Kirsten H.
Å“Bric a Brac is hidden in one of those unexpected courtyards near the Old Town Square, full of everything from true antiques to odd curios. It looked like it was closedthe windows are chock-a-block with stuff and it’s hard to see inbut it’s worth knocking, especially if you like treasure hunting.Lilian H.