Prague for arts and culture


By Harriet Cooper for High Life magazine

Title photography by Noppasin Wongchum /Getty Images

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September 2016

Prague has always boasted fairy-tale castles, ornate palaces and historic museums, but it has also developed a sharp and happening arts and culture scene. Harriet Cooper uncovers the Czech capital’s bohemian sights and hangouts.

The contemporary gallery

The DOX Centre of Contemporary Art in arty Holešovice transformed a factory into a venue for visual arts, literature and performance. Its thought-provoking mission statement declares, ‘Today, when more and more people tend to think dangerously alike, art’s capacity to suspend, even for a moment, our habitual ways of seeing may be its greatest value.’

Art’s capacity to suspend, even for a moment, our habitual ways of seeing may be its greatest value

The photography pit stops

Leica Gallery showcases exciting contemporary Czech and Slovak photography, having exhibited international artists such as Anton Corbijn, Helmut Newton and Wim Wenders. Don’t miss Analogue on Vlašská, where you can marvel at a selection of Lomography cameras.

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  • Tuck into dishes routed in tradition yet playful and modern in execution at La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise

    Try it for yourself

    La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise is open daily for dinner between 18:00 and midnight.

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  • Nationale-Nederlanden ‘The Dancing House’, Prague © Prague City Tourism

    Top hat and tails

    The beautifully curved Nationale-Nederlanden was inspired by dancers Fred Astaire and Gingers Rogers. Why not step out in your finest for a meal at the building’s top-floor restaurant, Ginger & Fred? Fly from London to Prague from:£36 each-way

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  • Lennon Wall, Malá Strana district, Prague © Alamy

    Imagine

    The so-called John Lennon Wall, just a short walk from the Charles Bridge, has existed in many forms since the 1980s, having been repainted many times by its owners and the public.

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The architectural icon

Striking a pose on the Rašínovo embankment, overlooking the Vltava river, is the Nationale-Nederlanden building. It was designed by Frank Gehry and Vlado Milunic, the former of whom nicknamed it ‘Fred and Ginger’.

The go-to design store

Potten & Pannen is the go-to place for the coolest of kitchenware. It began in 1992 when Pavel Stanek noticed a dearth in quality kitchen goods after the revolution. He duly opened a flagship store in the centre of Prague, where his curated collection of utensils became an instant hit.

The alternative sculptures

Vratislav Novák designed the huge red Metronome on the Letná Hill as a memorial to the Czech struggles under communism. The works of David Cerný – the Prague-born enfant terrible of the art world – are also dotted around the capital. Check out his three giant bronze babies beside the modern art gallery Museum Kampa.

The cool studio space

Cerný also opened the MeetFactory in 2001. In a former disused factory in the gritty Smichov district, the nonprofit centre for contemporary art buzzes with screenings, exhibitions and concerts.

The film festival

The Prague International Film Festival has grown from an amateur concern to an international contender. Now in its 24th year, it is a melting pot of both up-and-coming and established Czech talent.

The urban street art

The repressive Communist regime made Prague a hotbed of artistic rebellion. Its concrete structures provided a perfect canvas for street art, of which the most iconic is the John Lennon Wall in the Malá Strana district.

  • Prague Astronomical Clock © Getty Images

    Did you know...?

    Prague’s famous astronomical clock is pretty old (over 600 years in fact), meaning it was in existence over a century before Shakespeare was even born. Book flights from London to Prague, plus a three-night hotel stay from:£117 pp

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Stay

The newly opened Hotel Cosmopolitan Prague is the perfect base, located in the modern Nove Mesto neighbourhood.

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Eat

Run by Oldrich Sahajdák – a prestigious figure in Czech culinary circles – the Michelin-starred La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise offers six- and eleven-course menus, many of which tap into traditional ingredients.

Don’t miss

Explore St Vitus Cathedral, the spiritual symbol of the Czech. The Great South Tower, which holds the republic’s biggest bell, has nearly 300 steps, but is well worth the climb.