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Not simply low cost beer and outdated buildings: an arty weekend in Prague | Prague holidays



For many years, low cost flights, nightclubs and booze made Prague one in all Europe’s stag occasion capitals. Metropolis officers have spoken out about vacationers’ drunken behaviour, however Prague stays widespread amongst males dressed as Smurfs consuming 50 koruna (£1.70) pints of pilsner.

I arrive on the practice from Dresden, the German metropolis simply north of the Czech border, shortly earlier than the launch of a brand new night time practice route. On 25 March the European Sleeper between Brussels and Berlin extends to Prague, arriving at Hlavní Nádraží, Prague’s most important central station, at 10.56am.


I’m right here to seek out one of the best issues to do within the Czech Republic’s capital, and surrounding countryside, away from the town centre vacationer sights.

The Kunsthalle Praha artwork gallery, transformed from a Nineteen Thirties electrical energy substation. {Photograph}: Lukas Masner

I’m staying at Miss Sophie’s Downtown lodge (big rooms, uncovered piping, workers who don’t thoughts me taking socially unacceptable quantities of boiled sweets from reception), only a five-minute stroll from the station. I take a tram to Kunsthalle Praha artwork gallery to satisfy Ivana Goossen, director of the white-walled exhibition complicated, which opened in 2022 and at this time resembles a dream-state library. I’d heard that on this metropolis of flowing beer and grand museums, Kunsthalle represents a extra modern facet of Prague tradition.

READ, a books-themed exhibition by Berlin-based artists Elmgreen & Dragset, has taken over a lot of the gallery and runs till 22 April. A sculpture of a chimp stands on a pile of hardbacks. Guests peruse a show of progressive books banned in Florida. A person sitting alone at a protracted desk calmly writes in a pocket book. “What he’s doing is definitely an artwork efficiency,” says Goossen.


Kunsthalle was transformed from a Nineteen Thirties electrical energy substation by native entrepreneurs Petr and Pavlína Pudil. Goossen says that after the 1989 Velvet Revolution, privately owned arts establishments had been initially sluggish to emerge.

“There’s been a technique of maturing,” she says. “Sure practices regular within the western world, the place you see tradition supported privately [with private investment in public art spaces], weren’t so typical. That’s altering, and individuals are recognising that Prague isn’t nearly outdated structure.”


Kunsthalle had about 110,000 guests in its first 12 months, attracting extra native folks than vacationers. “We’re within the outdated centre, by the Prague Citadel steps,” says Ivana, “however we’re displaying that there’s modern tradition right here.”

DOX Centre for Up to date Artwork. {Photograph}: Iveta Kopicova

North of the centre, Holešovice, is one in all Prague’s extra gentrified districts, and residential to the DOX Centre for Up to date Artwork. I love its moody nude sculptures earlier than lunch on the newly opened Slice Slice Child restaurant (advisable as “one of the best pizza slice on the town” by one in all Goossen’s colleagues). The pizza is great: co-owner Kateřina Jakusová tells me that the tomatoes are imported from Puglia.

A 30-minute tram journey south, the southern tip of Smíchov district is widespread with artists however doesn’t but have any hip pizzerias. A big parrot is gnawing a picket door within the atrium cafe at MeetFactory: which is now a nonprofit artist area. The Form of Water-esque sculptures listed below are nice, however I don’t get correctly sucked into the depths of inventive intrigue till I enter the gallery on the alternative facet of the railway tracks. Musoleum opened in 2022 to showcase the work of Prague-born sculptor David Černý, who additionally based MeetFactory. He’s recognized for his work Miminka, the freaky bulbous child sculptures seen crawling up the town’s Žižkov Tv Tower.

The MeetFactory. {Photograph}: Tomas Soucek

Automotive-sized handgun sculptures hold from the ceiling, and sporadic gunfire sounds make me bounce each minute or so. A sculpture of a classic automobile with human legs is overseen by a garish orange and blue Černý self-portrait. These brilliantly odd works are usually not appropriate for youths or prudes although: one ground is dominated by monumental specific transferring human physique half sculptures: Cronenberg by way of Razzle journal.

Subsequent day, I drive an hour and a half north to the – extra family-friendly – Jiří Pačinek glass manufacturing unit. Garish glass octopus sculptures protrude from soil in its “glass backyard”. Inside, Pačinek, his 23-year-old son Jan and some staff with steel rods are at work pulling molten glass from raging furnaces, and spinning bulbs in order that they solidify as vases.


The world has been recognized for advantageous glassmaking for hundreds of years, and continues to be dwelling to a number of glassworks. Pačinek is handing out bowls of boar stew. “The native hunter gave us the boar in change for some glass,” he says. “That’s how issues work within the villages right here, generally.”

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The Pačineks export their glass items globally, and vacationers can strive their hand at making glass souvenirs. The manufacturing unit made the “crystal” sculptures for the 2022 movie Glass Onion: A Knives Out Thriller. However regardless of that success, Jan says, advantageous Czech glasswork is beneath menace.

He nods in the direction of a pair of staff gently curling molten glass threads round a vase. “These guys are about 50; younger folks don’t wish to make glass any extra. It’s a convention on this space, however folks wish to work with computer systems.”

Miss Sophie’s Downtown lodge.

Pačinek rests his arm on his son’s shoulder. They inform how an enormous native glasswork manufacturing unit lately shut after 230 years, due to hovering vitality prices. Pačinek’s fuel furnaces should be saved working consistently, at temperatures reaching 1,340C.

“I’m not afraid,” he says. “The small household firms would be the future, as a result of after we see this drawback with the vitality costs it turns into one thing just for individuals who love this work. Which I believe is ideal.”

Jan reveals me a glass gorilla head his father made, then a cluster of items impressed by the Covid-19 virus form, made throughout lockdowns. I’ve a go at glass spinning and solely handle an unpleasant glass globule. He smashes it. “Don’t fear, we will soften down the glass once more.” I drive again to Prague with a signed beer glass his father made earlier.


On the practice dwelling, as I love the easily rendered pint glass, I recall gallery director Goossen telling me: “Our joke went that Brits don’t suppose they’ve been to Prague, as a result of they begin consuming on the aircraft coming right here and don’t sober up till the aircraft again.”

I gained’t neglect the pleasant glassblowers, the door-gnawing parrot or the massive faceless infants fairly so simply.

Prepare journey from London to Brussels was offered by Eurostar (from £39 every means). Journey from Brussels to Prague was offered by Omio, whose app permits travellers to evaluate totally different transport strategies concurrently. Lodging in Prague was offered by Miss Sophie’s Downtown (doubles from €70, breakfast included if reserving with the lodge straight) by way of Czech Tourism. Prague Customer Move offered by Czech Tourism. The European Sleeper practice runs between Brussels Midi and Prague Hlavní Nádraží from 25 March 2024 (one-way couchette from €79)

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