Travel: The streetlamps and tongues are particularly memorable

MY ROUGH GUIDE

Best pub

There are lots of excellent pubs in Prague, and, of course, litres and litres of the best beer in the world, but there's a real dearth of places near the castle, where a lot of thirsty tourists can be found expiring. Few of them ever find their way to U cerneho vola (The Black Ox), a staunchly Czech pub, which serves frothy mugs of the excellent Velkopopovicky kozel beer. Don't be intimidated, just stick a beer mat in front of you, and nod when the waiter asks you if you want pivo? From that point on, he'll just keep bringing in those beers until you tell him to stop.

Best cafe

Once upon a time, Prague had a selection of cafes to rival the likes of Vienna, but nowadays only a handful survive from the golden age at the turn of the century. The most evocative is the one inside the Obecn dum or Municipal House, which was built in Art Nouveau style in 1911 and has recently been lovingly restored. You only really get a taster of the decor from the cafe - the restaurant is even more ornate - and, if you're truly smitten, you can take a guided tour of the rest of the interior, which includes a vast concert hall, exhibition rooms and work by Alfons Mucha.

Favourite museum

After years of wrangling and delays, the city's new modern art museum has finally opened in the Veletrzn palc in the northern suburb of Holesovice. Not only does it house a fantastic collection of Czech art from Kupka to Kolr, plus works by Picasso, Van Gogh and Matisse, it is also an awesome building in its own right, a masterful essay in modernism from the late 1920s.

Most memorable streetlamp

For a brief period just before the First World War, the Czechs had a stab at applying Cubism to architecture and design. One of the finest examples of Czech Cubist architecture is the streetlamp (and seat) from 1912, hidden away in a corner of Jungmannovo nmest. For a more general overview of the zig-zag furniture and buildings this remarkable experiment produced, head for the Ceske muzeum vytvarnych umen, housed in a Cubist house in the old town.

Best bookshop

All ex-pat bookshops should be as welcoming and appealingly ramshackle as Prague's Globe bookshop in the suburb of Holesovice. The bookstacks touch the ceiling, and there are comfy armchairs in which you're positively invited to while away a rainy afternoon. Buy a book and you can step next door to the adjacent cafe and enjoy coffee, cakes and a cigarette.

Best hotel

Nowadays there are some great little hotels in the cobbled streets just below Prague Castle, but what unreconstructed Marxist-Leninist can resist the Hotel International, Prague's only Stalinist skyscraper, built in wedding-cake style in the 1950s replete with dour socialist realist friezes and lashings of marble, and now run by Holiday Inn?

Best tongue

Walk round the ambulatory of Prague's St Vitus Cathedral and you'll bump into the city's most ostentatious tomb, containing the remains of Saint John of Nepomuk. This poor fellow was thrown off the Charles Bridge in 1393 on the orders of the king for refusing to divulge the secrets of the queen's confession. In an effort to get him canonised, the Jesuits dug him up several centuries later and claimed that, although his body was reduced to bones, his tongue was alive and licking. A replica of the tongue now has pride of place on the lid of the tombafter scientists discovered that the original was, in fact, a desiccated brain.

Biggest disappointment

Good King Wenceslas wasn't that good. It's only that his brother, Boleslav the Cruel, who stabbed him to death, was even worse. And he wasn't a king, only a duke. And his real name was Vclav. And as for the snow...

fact file

Getting there

Czech Airlines, British Airways and British Midland all fly daily from London to Prague; discounted fares should bring the price down to around pounds 150 return. Czech Airlines also flies five times a week from Manchester.

Where to stay

Private rooms can be organised easily enough on arrival in the airport for around pounds 10 per person. Hotel International, Koulova 15 (00 420 2 24 39 31 11; fax 24 31 06 16). Expect to pay around pounds 100 for a double.

Where to drink

The Obecn dum is the largest building on nmest Republiky, by the metro station. The cafe is open daily 8am-11pm. U cerneho vola is under the arches on Loretnske nmest. It's open daily 10am-10pm.

Seeing the sights

The Veletrzn palc is on Dukelskych hrdinu; to get there take tram #5 from nmest Republiky; it's open Tues-Sun 10am-6pm, Thurs until 9pm. The Ceske muzeum vytvarnych umen is on the corner of Celetn and Ovocny trh; it's open Tues-Sun 10am-6pm.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Convicted art fraudster John Myatt
art

Life and Style
fashion

News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
News
The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes
news
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
film
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Executive - Meetings & Events (MICE) - £40,000 OTE

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achieving...

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Account Executive - Hotel Reservation Software - £40,000 OTE

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: A rapidly growing Hotel ...

    Recruitment Genius: Tyre Technician / Mechanic

    £15000 - £16800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Tyre Technician / Mechanic is...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Receptionist / Warranty Administrator

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion the Largest Independent Motor...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game