Originally covered with royal vineyards, the leafy Vinohrady neighborhood of Prague is popular and hip; home to many expats, good restaurants and ethnic food shops. Neighboring Zizkov is its no-nonsense counterpart.
“We didn’t know anything about Vinohrady when we first moved here, we just thought it was pretty and close to the center,” Silvie, who is sitting next to me on Prague’s iconic tramline 22, says. “Now I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”
The gems to be seen from the tram here include the baroque Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola, built in 1670, and a quick flash in bright contrast of Frank Gehry’s Dancing House. At I.P. Pavlova, there is a metro stop and another big passenger exchange. This time though, more people get off than on and the car relaxes a bit. The busy commercial area quickly turns genteel, with a farmers’ market off to the right and then refined pastel-painted buildings lining the streets.
Vinohrady is anchored by the towering gothic St. Ludmila Church on Náměstí Míru. The name translates as Peace Square and the atmosphere is appropriate: the elderly sun themselves on the square, most happily relaxing with a dog by their side. At Christmas, there is a popular market here.
Nearby Zizkov is where you’ll find noisy, unpretentious Czech bars. Popular with the city's students, artists and free spirits, the area is said to have the highest number of pubs per capita of any city district in Europe. And, speaking of free spirits… alcohol here tends to be of the stronger and cheaper kind. Also, beer gardens like Zahrádky and Riegrovy sady make for wonderful hangout spots in Spring, Summer and early Fall.
Riding through, I catch tantalizing glimpses of possibility down every street. This is an area that demands you to explore her side streets.
Take me to Prague!