Karlin Attractions, Sights and Restaurants
Karlin is a hip neighbourhood and full of surprises. The first thing you’ll notice in this district are the beautifully restored houses and the delightful cafes, restaurants and shops. The entire district has a young, dynamic vibe. Karlin has a limited number of attractions, but this is exactly what makes this neighbourhood so attractive. You will find Czechs and very few tourists. The landmark in this neighbourhood is the giant equestrian statue on Zizkov hill. Near the Vltava River Built in the eighteenth century, Invalidovna, inspired by ‘Les Invalides’ in Paris, was a home for veterans. If you walk on from here, you will get to an area remarkable for its modern architecture: Futurama Business Park.
Seven Karlin Sights
Karlin is an elongated district sandwiched between the Vltava River and Vitkov hill. The best way to explore the district is to walk up Krizikov street then via Futurama Business Park down along Pernerova street. Many old industrial buildings have been converted into offices for publishing houses and new media companies. Artists have moved into the abandoned factories. The apartment buildings have been refurbished. The entire district is prosperous and vibrant.
1. Karlin School
The most beautiful building in this district is the primary school on Lyckovo square, rather a park than a square. From here you have a good view of Vitkov Hill with the gigantic equestrian statue of Jan Zizka who won a victory over Emperor Sigismund in the fifteenth century. Beautiful murals on the walls of the building capture this event. The fastest way to get a closer look at the equestrian statue is through the Zizkov pedestrian tunnel which connects Karlin to the Zizkov district from where you walk up the hill.
2. Karlin Kasarna
The former barracks, Kasarna Karlin, is now a multi functional cultural centre. You will find in the courtyard of this abandoned barracks an open-air cinema, bar, café and Karlin Studios, an alternative contemporary art gallery.
Address: Prvniho pluku 20
3. Karlin Forum
Located in a former steam engine factory, Forum Karlin is a modern multi functional hall for concerts, congresses and cultural and social events suitable for 3,000 people. The hall stands out for its excellent acoustics.
Address: Pernerova 51
The construction of Invalidovna started in 1731 after the example of ‘Les Invalides’ in Paris. The original plan included nine barracks and a chapel surrounding a central courtyard. Only one of the nine buildings was completed and was a home to veterans and wounded soldiers until 1935. When the veterans moved to another home outside Prague, the Invalidovna housed the army archives.
Most of the archives were lost in the flood of 2002. The building was also seriously damaged. The north wing has been partially restored, but the rest of the building is still in poor condition. Fun fact: The Invalidovna is the insane asylum in Milos Forman’s film ‘Amadeus’. When the film was shot in 1984, the building was in better condition than what you see now.
Address: Sokolovska 136
5. Futurama Business Park
This modern Business Park consists of six separate office buildings, connected by architecturally interesting, cobbled boardwalks, water features and modern sculptures. Two concrete armchairs invite you to sit there. Two hippos appear to swim in a river.
Address: Sokolovska 136
6. Karlin River City
Now that the flooding of the Vltava River is contained, striking buildings designed by leading architects from America, France and Denmark occupy the former flood plain. The buildings have inspiring names: Danube House, Amazon Court and Nile House.
Port 18600, the postal code of this area, was a wasteland on the banks of the Vltava River and is now a cultural centre where workshops, lectures and concerts are held. There is also a sports ground for volleyball and children can have fun on a submarine-shaped climbing frame. In the summer season there is a bar where you can rent a barbecue.
7. Invalidovna Metro Station
Invalidovna is a station on the yellow line B which runs from Zlicin in the southwest to Cerny Most in the northeast via Narodni Trida, Mustek, Namesty Republiky in the centre of Prague and also to Invalidovna. The station was opened in 1990. Be sure to go inside to have a look at the colourful stained-glass window. The artist is Eva Hermanska and her work refers to Czechoslovakia’s plan to host the Olympic Games in 1980.
Karlin Then and Now
Modern Karlin contrasts sharply with the district of a few years ago. Gray apartment blocks, usually poorly maintained and factories and workshops were rife. The residents of the district were the labourers who worked there. They made large steel wheels and cogwheels for factories, engines and steam engines. Now it is an emerging neighborhood, a centre of social and cultural life.
Karlin is located in the flood plains of the Vltava River and this turned out to be an opportunity for the district. After the last flood in 2002, measures were taken to prevent the river from bursting its banks again. The major damage caused by this latest flood accelerated the renovation process of the district. Old factory buildings were revamped and started a second life. Houses were renovated and are now very much sought after. Everywhere attractive shops, hip coffee bars and restaurants popped up
Gastronomy in the District
Karlin has an abundance of bistros, restaurants, cafes and wine bars that make the neighborhood very agreeable.
* Café Můj šálek kávy (My cup of coffee), Krizikova 105, for the best coffee and Czech pastries.
* Krystal Bistro, Sokolovska 101, French cuisine without fuss
* Eska, Pernerova 49, Czech and Scandinavian cuisine
* Tea Mountain, Krizikova 115, for all kinds of tea
* Wine bar Veltlin, Krizikova 115, in the same building as Tea Mountain, special wines from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire
How to get there
Metro line B to station Krizikova or Invalidovna
Přívoz / ferry P7 from March to October, boarding point Pražská tržnice to Rohanský ostrov. Take the the island route.
Photos Marianne Crone