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.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Suggested Topics
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
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

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam