Attractions and Sights in Vinohrady
Vinohrady neighborhood in Prague is located east of Nove Mesto and right behind the National Museum on Wenceslas Square. It is a chic neighbourhood with a fin de siècle atmosphere. There is not a lot to do for tourists, but lovers of second-hand shops, snug restaurants and Art Nouveau facades will have the day of their life! Explore the neighbourhood and walk through tree-lined streets and parks. Vinohradska is the main road leading to the Vrsovice and Strasnice districts which are further away from the centre. The two shopping streets in Vinohrady are Vinohradska and Francouzska.
The name Vinohrady refers to the vineyards that were here in the fourteenth century. Charles IV imported grapes seeds from Burgundy and planted them on south facing slopes. These vineyards produces good wine but disappeared at the end of the eighteenth century. In the late nineteenth century, wealthy Czechs settled here: as civil servants, industrialists and persons of private means. The district is a like an open-air museum, full of Neo-Renaissance and Art Nouveau style buildings.
Vinohrady: Residential Neighbourhood with Parks
Vinohrady is an attractive neighbourhood to live because of the beautifully restored and well-maintained apartment buildings and tree-lined streets. As in many central European cities, hardly anyone lives in a single-family home but most people live in apartments. Most apartment buildings in Vinohrady were built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and are spacious. There are two large parks the district. Havlickovy park is undoubtedly the most beautiful with an arbor and a vineyard on a south-facing slope. Riegrovy park is popular for two reasons: the sweeping view of the city and the large beer garden.
Vinohrady: Highlights on Namesti Miru
1.Ludmilla church, Namesti Miru
Ludmilla church is a nineteenth century neo-gothic church with a beautiful Art Nouveau interior. A monument in front of the church honours the Czech author Carel Capek (1890-1938), resident of this district. His best known novel is ‘War with the Newts’. He introduced the word ‘robot’ in his stage play R.U.R. A small-scale neighborhood Christmas market is held on the square in front of the church from late November to early January. The rest of the year, you will find here a farmers’ market, a spring market or an Easter market.
2.Vinohrady Divadlo, Namesti Miru
Vinohrady Divadlo is a beautiful nineteenth century theater, worth seeing from the outside. You will encounter some problems if you want to see the interior as there are no guided tours and the only way is to go to a performance. The snag is that all stage plays are in Czech. Your only chance to see the inside of the theatre is in the movie ‘The Illusionist.’ Although this film is about an artist in Vienna, the Vinohrady Theater was used as movie location.
Highlights around Jiriho z Podebrad Square
1. Vinohrady Water Tower
This water tower was built in 1882 and in use until 1912. Water was pumped from the Vltava River into a large reservoir which was the drinking water supply for the Vinohrady, Strasnice, Zizkov and Vrsovice districts. This striking building is richly decorated with angels between the dials of the clock. When the water tower was built, it was the tallest building in the area and the view from the 40m high platform was impressive. Today the view is rather disappointing because most of the surrounding buildings are higher than the water tower. Since 1993, offices and apartments have been located in the tower.
Address: Korunni 66
2. Sacred Heart Church
This is the most famous modern church in Prague and was built in 1928. It is almost impossible to see the interior as the church is mostly locked. Your only chance is on to attend a service on Sundays. The eye-catcher is the clock on the church façade. With a diameter of 7.5 meters it is the largest clock in the Czech Republic.
Address: Jiriho z Podebrad square
3. Jirak Farmers’ Market
The farmers’ market in front of the Sacred Heart Church is all organic. A local favourite, yet interesting for foreign visitors as the market abounds in local produce. Jirak offers local, seasonal and organic products including smoked cheese, from the Czech Republic, fresh fruit and vegetables and but also cakes, ice cream and homemade jam and honey from beekeepers. You will find a number of food stands with pancakes and waffles, but also with grilled sausages and burgers. There are lots of events often with live music. Wednesday to Saturday from 08.00 to 17.00 (Saturday until 13.00)
Address: Jiriho z Podebrad square
Highlights on Vinohradska Street
1. Vinohradska Pavilion
Vinohradska pavilion has a rich history. Built in 1879 as a factory hall, then turned into a market hall for meat, fruit and vegetables and almost destroyed by a fire in 1986. Vinohradsky Pavilion was the first shopping centre in Prague to open after the Velvet Revolution. The shops offered many exclusive designer brands such as Sergio Tacchini, Tommy Hilfiger and la Perla. The opening in 1994 may have been premature because Prague was not yet ready to embrace capitalism. Ten years later, only two of the fifty-five stores were still open. The top attraction back then was the Albert supermarket in the basement and the ATM at the entrance. The pavilion stood empty for some time, but Albert remained open. Now the pavilion is back to its former glory but no longer with fashion boutiques but exclusive furniture stores. Sit in the cafe on the middle floor for a good view of the structure of the imposing building. Vinohradsky Pavilion is definitely worth a visit especially if you like fin-de-siècle architecture and art nouveau style.
2. Shopping Street Vinohradska
Vinohradska is a long street with many shops. It begins right behind the National Museum on Wenceslas Square and runs as far as Atrium Flora a shopping centre with ‘only’ 135 shops and therefore small by Prague standards. The food court on the fourth floor is worth a visit because you won’t find tourist prices here.
Two Parks in the Vinohrady District
1. Havlickovy Park
The only surviving vineyard in the Vinohrady district can be found in this park. You can taste the home-grown wine in the Vinicni Altan wine bar. Havlickovy overlooks the Nusle valley and is a cool spot to hang out especially in summer when its sloping lawns are popular picnic spots. This park is laid out in Italian Renaissance style with fountains, waterfalls and an artificially created grotto. Villa Gröbe was built in 1870 for Moritz Gröbe, a wealthy industrialist, who landscaped the park.
2. Riegrovy Park
A good reason to go to this park is the view over the city, but a more important reason is the large beer garden, only open in summer. You sit at long wooden tables that you share with the Czech visitors, tourists you will not see much here. The park is at the northern end of Vinohrady at the border of the Zizkov district.
Two Villas Renowned for their Architecture
1. Jan Kotera’s Villa
The Czech architect, Jan Kotera (1871-1923), designed this house for himself as a family home. The building combines brick masonry with rough exterior plaster and is characterized by its strictly geometric shapes. The villa is not open to the public. Another villa also designed by Kotera and open for a visit is Trmal Villa with a large central staircase and surrounding rooms that are quite small. (Vilova street 11)
Address: Hradesinska 6
2. Saloun’s studio
The former workshop of one of the most important Czech sculptors, Ladislav Saloun (1870-1946). His most famous work is the Jan Hus monument on Old Town Square. The studio was a popular meeting place for artists including Alfons Mucha and Frantisek Bilek. Today, the building is owned by the Academy of Fine Arts and is used for educational purposes. Although built about a hundred years ago, the villa looks very modern, especially compared to the surrounding buildings. One of the rooms is inspired by Moravian folk art. The villa is not open to the public.
Address: Slovenska 4
photos wiki commons and Marianne Crone