Most people go to the Czech Republic for its historic fairy tale beauty. I went to Prague and nearby Brno primarily to see the modern side of things. Don’t get me wrong, it is just like a fairy tale. The medieval beauty is breathtaking and shouldn’t be missed. But there is some really amazing modern architecture to behold as well. In fact Prague was the only city in the world to experiment with cubism in the form of architecture. International Style architects built homes, planned communities, convention centers, restaurants, office buildings, department stores, and more — much of it remains in tact from before the Communist takeover making for exceptional specimens. In recent years, the likes of architects such as Frank Gehry have built contemporary masterpieces and there is a modern art and design scene to rival any emerging city. It is the combination of the old and new that makes this corner of the world a fantastic place to visit with endless things to see and do.
The Masterpiece — Villa Muller, Adolf Loos, Prague:
The Other Masterpiece — Villa Tugendhat, Mies van der Rohe, Brno:
People say the shopping in Prague outside of the glass isn’t worth your time but i found differently. I shopped up a storm from clothing to home accessories and even food items.
Boheme — Dusní 8, Praha 1, for really great unstructured women’s clothing, heavy on the knits.
Modernista — Celetná 12, Praha 1, for furniture, homewares and collectibles. They reissued the cubist box designed by Pavel Janek in 1911. It makes a lovely gift.
Artél — Celentná 29, Praha 1, for a modern take on Prague’s glass industry run by an American Expat.
Kubista — Ovocný trh 19, Praha 1, for cubist inspired goods on the ground floor of the Cubist Museum. Don’t miss the Cafe Orient on the top floor.
Gold Pralines — Ovocný trh 1096/8, Praha 1, for lovely chocolates
Strudle z tazeneho Testa — Jeseniova 29, Praha 3, for the most amazing home made strudel in three delicious flavors: apple (jablecny), cheese (tvarohovy), and poppy seed (makovy). I slipped a sheet of paper with my order written in Czech through the barred window of this tiny little one man, one item bakery along a residential street.
Then there is this wonderfully odd little string shop I happened across (Praha 5). It’s filled to the brim with string, twine, and rope of every imaginable size and color that doesn’t look like it’s been touched since the communist era. Yet still it’s in business today. Guess there’s a calling for string that I was unaware of. . .
While most say the food in Prague isn’t great either, I was again surprised to find the food to be quite good. You just need to venture off the tourist path. . .
Cafe Savoy, Vítězná 124/5, Praha 5 — a wonderful little cafe perfect for lunch with fabulous soups and a beautiful Art Nouveau interior lovingly restored.
Kogo, Havelská 499/27, Praha 1 — a favorite of locals for lunch or dinner. Pizza and more.
This guide book is one of the best I’ve ever come across. Written by the owner of Artél, the expat American, she gives expert advise on her adopted city from a creative person’s point of view. The information is extremely thorough (like instruction on which are the best cash machines to use in the airport) and written strictly from personal experience. She has tried every hotel, every restaurant and didn’t take any kick backs in her research. I was so impressed, I asked her to dinner and we talked the night away. I was surprised to be able to tell her that you can reserve a taxi up to a week in advance over the internet — I think she said she would put that detail in her next edition.