February 10, 2018 / Property Spotlight

Prague Destination Guide: Discover the Golden City

The Prague property market is on the up, and the pocket-sized Czech capital offers everything you’d expect from a much larger city


History and beauty have made Prague one of the world’s most visited capital cities. Its landmark castle and myriad architectural styles inspire awe, while its rich past fascinates. But the Golden City isn’t stuck in the past. Alongside its historic theaters, Gothic spires, and Baroque gardens, Prague’s rich cultural life has been invigorated with a fresh spirit in recent years—think Michelin-starred restaurants, contemporary art venues, and exclusive boutiques. Discover the new life carved out of the city’s soulful spaces, and how the Prague property market is thriving, with our Prague destination guide:

In addition to the iconic Charles Bridge, Prague offers diverse neighborhoods to explore, from the winding streets of Malá Strana to the leafy Vinohrady and its café culture. Photograph and banner image: Getty ImagesThe neighborhoods
“Prague is a historic city, but it also has a youthful spirit,” says Veronika Krejcárková, international property consultant at Svoboda & Williams, the exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate in the Czech Republic. “And everything is on your doorstep. The city’s location at the heart of Europe makes a ski trip to Austria or a flight to London just a short trip.”

Originally the city’s central marketplace, the Old Town Square dates from the 12th century and is still surrounded by remarkable Romanesque, Baroque, and Gothic buildings. Photograph: Getty ImagesTempted to compare Prague with other European capitals such as London or Paris? “It shares their beauty and history, but what makes Prague different is its appealing small size,” says Krejcárková. “When you buy property in the city center, you can walk to the theater, shopping, top restaurants, and the city’s rich cultural offerings. The leafy upscale districts of Dejvice and Hanspaulka just outside the city center offer another kind of exceptional lifestyle, with international schools, parks, and nature close by.”

When you buy property in the city center, you can walk to the theater, shopping, top restaurants, and the city’s rich cultural offerings

Exciting new developments are also in the works that will add to the luxury real estate in Prague—both in the historic center and the surrounding residential areas. “We anticipate several desirable new properties to come on the market this year and next,” says Krejcárková, including a significant residential project in Smíchov, a bustling area of the city.

The art and architecture
From Renaissance to Rococo, Baroque to Art Nouveau, Cubism to Communist era, Prague’s UNESCO-listed historic center is home to a revered range of architectural styles. And the city’s compact size makes them all easily accessible.

Prague’s 14th-century Charles Bridge connects the city’s Old Town with the Malá Strana, featuring Gothic architecture and Baroque statues of 30 saints. Photograph: Getty ImagesStart your archi-tour in the Old Town Square and then head over the Charles Bridge—with its Gothic design and Baroque statues—to the left bank of the Vltava river. Meander through the winding streets of the quaint Malá Strana district and then up to Prague Castle. Don’t miss St Vitus Cathedral, which dates to 1344 and contains religious relics and crypts of Czech kings.

In New Town, along the recently revived riverside, a series of 20th-century Cubist residences includes the impressive Kovařovic Villa, a wonderful example of Cubist architecture by the Czech architect Josef Chochol.

Czech artist David Černý’s fiberglass Babies crawl up the sides of the futuristic Tower Park, a former TV tower constructed in the Communist era. Photograph: AlamySeek out Prague’s futuristic Tower Park in leafy Vinohrady, one of the city’s most desirable residential areas. This former television tower, built in the 1980s during the Communist era, measures over 700 feet and offers unprecedented views of the city from the elegant Oblaca bar or the luxurious One Room Hotel (where there is literally one room). Look up for internationally renowned Czech artist David Černý’s massive fiberglass Babies crawling up the rocket-like tower’s sides.

You’ll also find three bronze versions of the sculptures on the grounds of the Museum Kampa on Kampa Island in the Vltava. Housed inside a converted mill, the world-class museum is home to a collection of Central European modern art, including a comprehensive collection of works by abstract art pioneer František Kupka and Cubist sculptor Otto Gutfreund.

The DOX Centre for Contemporary Art is Prague’s art hub, featuring rotating exhibitions including Martin Rajniš’s wooden structure—138 feet long and 33 feet wide—inspired by the zeppelins that cruised the skies at the dawn of the 20th century. Photograph: Jan SlavíkJust around the curve of the Vltava in Prague’s Holešovice, the city’s vibrant arts district, the National Gallery’s Veletržní Palace presents Czech and international modern and contemporary art in a stunning Functionalist building. Also in the area, the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art earned a nomination for the prestigious Mies van der Rohe Award in contemporary architecture following its opening in 2008 and now has a reputation for high-quality, unorthodox exhibitions.

The designer shopping
Along with avant-garde art and award-winning architecture, DOX is home to the DOX by Qubus design shop, where you will find glassware, porcelain, jewelry, and other interior items from the top names in Czech design: Maxim Velčovský, Eva Eisler, and the late František Vizner, among others. Back in the Old Town, Qubus has a second shop shared with Bomma, a contemporary glassware brand that blends 21st-century design with the world-renowned Czech glassmaking tradition.

Pařížská Street is home to the shops of top Czech designers and boutiques from world-famous brands. Look up to take in the grand 19th-century buildings and their iconic spires. Photograph: AlamyAlso in the Old Town: the flagships of legendary crystalworks Preciosa and Moser. For high-end fashion and accessories, head to nearby Pařížská, Prague’s best shopping street. Here Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, and Prada are among the tenants occupying the tree-lined boulevard’s gorgeous 19th-century buildings.

The theater, opera, and Mozart
Prague has a rich musical and theatrical history that includes opera, ballet, and the symphony orchestra, and world-class shows are regularly performed in the city. Dating to 1881, Prague’s National Theatre decorates the skyline with its gold-crowned roof. The grand Estates Theatre, one of Europe’s oldest, is where Mozart premiered Don Giovanni in 1787.

The neo-Renaissance National Threatre building was constructed in the late 19th century, now offering a program of opera and ballet. Photograph: ShutterstockAlso in the historic center, the Art Nouveau Municipal House includes the 1,200-seat Smetana Hall, home to the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and host to the annual Prague Spring International Music Festival.

The culinary scene
Prague’s dining scene has come into its own in recent years, with top chefs putting a modern twist on classic Czech cuisine and savvy entrepreneurs carving out unique culinary concepts. In the Old Town, head to Michelin-starred La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise to experience chef Oldřich Sahajdák’s exquisite tasting menu inspired by recipes from a 19th-century cookbook. Eska, which skillfully blends Nordic and Czech cuisines, is located nearby in the buzzy Karlín district and is also part of the Ambiente group of restaurants.

At the Michelin-starred La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise, chef Oldřich Sahajdák serves dishes such as beef tongue, pear, mustard, and poppy seeds, or Brussels sprouts, cabbage, caraway seeds, and pork belly.Just up the hill, Vinohrady is renowned for its abundant bistros and café culture, while boutique delicatessens and lively neighborhood farmers’ markets scattered throughout the city offer fresh fruit, vegetables, and baked goods from local producers. Among the largest is in Prague’s Dejvice, an upscale residential area next to the castle district.

“Dejvice and Hanspaulka in Prague 6 offer an exceptional lifestyle,” says Krejcárková. “Where in the center and in Vinohrady you will find luxury apartments, here you will find expansive family residences and villas with gardens and pools. Furthermore, the airport is just a convenient 10 to 15 minutes’ drive.”

The gardens and green spaces
The abundance of green space is among Prague’s most appealing features. In Dejvice, visit Stromovka, previously a royal game reserve, or the area’s nearby Divoká Šárka, a nature reserve with a gorge. Just below Prague Castle in Malá Strana is a number of Baroque palace gardens where artfully manicured lawns are adorned with fountains, statues, and artworks.

Petřín Hill—the most extensive green space in the city—features an expansive rose garden, a terraced garden, and an observation tower inspired by the Eiffel Tower. Photograph: Getty ImagesExplore the terraced Vtrba garden on the slope of the romantic Petřín Hill, or the early-Baroque Wallenstein Garden, part of the Wallenstein Palace complex (today the seat of the Czech Senate) and which features a pond, an aviary, and a grotto.

The gardens within Prague’s Wallenstein Palace are among the finest examples of the early-Baroque style in the Czech Republic. Photograph: Getty ImagesWith so much to discover, it’s clear Prague’s rich past and bright future are combining to make the Czech capital city a top property spot, and that the Golden City is firmly placed at the top of the must-visit (and perhaps stay) list. 

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Joann Plockova
is a Prague-based journalist specializing in design and travel