Smichov Residential District with a Twitch
Smichov district in Prague is full of surprises from abandoned factories showing its working class roots to modern office buildings and a shopping mall. It is a sprawling district on the left bank of the Vltava River, south of the Mala Strana district. The district features two big attractions for tourists: Smichov Shopping Centre and Staropramen Brewery tour. But there are also minor attraction as the Railway Kingdom, for model train enthusiasts and the Meet Factory, a centre for alternative culture. Abandoned factory buildings rub shoulders with state-of-the art twenty-first-century architecture. Three parallel main streets run through the district: Nadrazni, Radlicka and Zborovska, side streets run in between in right angles.
1. Novy Smichov Shopping Mall, Plzenska 8, metro station Andel
This shopping centre is very popular! Nearly 20 million visitors make their way to Novy Smichov shopping mall each year. As it is one of the largest malls in Prague, it never feels crowded. Home to 153 shops and restaurants, you will never get bored. Add to this its multiplex cinemas and food courts and you know why this shopping centre should be high on your what-to-do-in-Prague list.
2. Italian Wine and Food Market, Strakonicka 1, metro station Smichov Nadrazi
If you crave for Italian food and wine, the Italian Wine and Food Market is the place to be. This slice of Italy in Prague has everything you need to prepare an Italian meal, from pasta to pesto and from pizza to risotto. All products are imported and bought from local family-run businesses in Italy. If you don’t fancy cooking your own meal, the restaurant in de food hall will do it for you. Treat yourself to Italian coffee after your shopping is done.
3. Azbuka Chuti, Stefanikova 25, metro station Andel
Delicacies from Russia in Azbuka Chuti, a shop much smaller than the Italian food hall but equally interesting. If you feel like tasty foreign food and want to see fewer tourists, this Russian specialty shop is definitely worth a visit. You will meet here lots of Russian speaking customers who come here for the caviar and wine from Crimea and Georgia.
4. Lahudkarstvi Svacek, Stefanikova 33 metro station Andel
Svacek specializes in delicacies from home and abroad and is one of the largest delis in Prague. Stock up on dried ham, cold cuts, salami from Italy, France, Spain and Bosnia, as well as an extensive range of cheese and all kinds of milk as well as traditional Czech products.
Address: Delicatessen Svacek, Stefanikova 18/33, Prague 5
Fun for Children
1. Sacre Coeur Park and mini zoo, get there via Novy Smichov Shopping Centre
Go to the second floor of the mall and follow the exit sign Sacre Coeur, past a corridor with the toilets and across a bridge over a busy road and you will end up in a quiet, green spot with a mini zoo and playground. Crocodiles and snakes are fed at 2 pm on Wednesdays, pony rides for 2 to 6 year old. The mini zoo is home to reptiles, snakes, turtles, goats and birds.
2. Railway Kingdom, Stroupeznickeho 23
Scale model rolling stock, passengers and freight train run according to schedule on hundreds of metres of track. Cars and trains stop at warning lights and give way to each other. Get to know the Czech Republic in two hours by train!
3. Playground Novy Smichov Shopping Mall
Take the lift to level 1 and look for the sign: Detsky koutek, Czech for children’s playground. It mainly caters for very young children: a ball pool, a small slide, driving round on bikes, playing with toys or watching cartoons. There are two baby sitters and it is a good place to leave your toddler when you are doing some shopping. The charge it about CZK 30 (€1) per hour.
Entertainment in the District
1. Meet Factory, Ke Sklarne 15
This meeting point for national and international artists hosts cultural event, visual art, live music and theatre. Some of the artists live here in their own studio. The Meet Factory is the brainchild of the Czech artist David Cerny whose work hangs on the façade of this old slaughterhouse: two life-size cars painted red hanging from massive hooks look like hung meat.
2. Cinema City in Novy Smichov Shopping Centre
With twelve screening rooms, Cinema City is one of Prague’s best loved multiplex cinemas. It features the second largest movie screen in Czechia. The films in the 4DX cinema appeal to your senses. You will feel wind, see lightening, smell odours and fragrances and feel movement as the chairs move in all directions.
3. Staropramen, Nadrazni 84
Staropramen is the second largest brewery in the Czech Republic. If you are a beer lover and you want to learn more about beer and how it is brewed, be sure to join a guided tour in the Staropramen Brewery. During this audio visual tour you will learn about the history of the brewery and the production of beer. A Staropramen tasting session is included.
Remarkable Architecture in Smichov
1. Zlaty Andel, at the corner of Plzenska and Nadrazni
Zlaty Andel, Golden Angel, is a unique building whose all-glass façade looks different every time you look at it depending on the light. The building is constructed of glass and steel. The red lettered-text on the façade shows fragments of the works of poets and authors with strong links to Prague: Franz Kafka, Gustav Meyrink, Jirí Orten, Rainer Maria Rilke and others. An angel observes the passers-by from above the corner. The building was completed in 2000 and is home to offices.
2. Andel metro station
Andel is a very busy metro station on line B. It was opened in 1985 and designed in Soviet style and is the spitting image of metro stations in Moscow. When it opened it was named Moskevska which was later changed to Andel. The station contains a propaganda relief promoting Czechoslovak-Soviet friendship.
3. Smichov Station
Smichov station is both a metro and railway station. Built in the 1950s, it is a typical example of a communist style public building, a block of concrete without any character from the outside. The station hall is not very inspiring but home to some significant socialist-realist style murals and public art. The whole area is earmarked for redevelopment. The existing Smichov Station will not be torn down but incorporated into the new station which will contain shops and amenities for travellers.
Smichov and Food and Drink
There are many restaurants, bars and cafes in the Smichov district. You will find a whole bunch of them close to Andel metro station and in Lidicka and Nadrazni streets
1. Pastva, Nadrazni 102
Vegan and vegetarian seasonal meals as well as a large assortment of homemade cakes and desserts. Wine from Moravia and fresh homemade lemonade.
2. Na Marjance, na Belidle 38
Typical Czech cuisine, no frills but big portions of all Czech staples like Wiener Schnitzel, beef gulash fried cheese, chicken stuffed with bacon and cheese. All dishes are served with fries. There are two vegetarian dishes; eggs in mushroom sauce and boiled potatoes and pancakes with jam and cream. Three salads tomato, cucumber and salad and Greek salad.
3. Kavárna, co hledá jméno, Stroupeznickeho 10
The ‘café that is looking for its name’ is in a building earmarked for demolition but saved by a group of friends and now a welcoming place where you can sit in the shade of a walnut tree or next to a fireplace in colder weather. This is the perfect spot for a coffee and a chat over breakfast or lunch
4. Futurum Music Bar, Zborovska 7
The place to be for all music fans who are fed up with touristy bars in the centre of Prague. Futurum hosts live music concerts and DJ nights, rock and hardcore both Czech and foreign bands as well as metal parties. Reasonably priced drinks are served from a thirty-metre long bar counter.
5. Dog’s Bollocks, Nadrazni 82
Café, restaurant and two bars with seating for two hundred and fifty and a large dance floor where you can dance until the wee hours to classic hits and current chart toppers! The best reason to spend the evening here is the beer on tap, both Czech and Belgian, Staropramen, Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and Granat, add to this wines from Chile and Argentina and you will know why there is no better place in Prague to spend the evening.
photos: Marianne Crone