For most tourists, Prague sort of begins and ends with the majestic silhouette of the Castle. The hill it stands on serves as an overwhelmingly photogenic border of the historical center, which makes sense given that the Castle’s purpose was to protect the city from the top. But if you’re a romantic type of guy who isn’t afraid of using public transport, a whole new world will unveil itself when you decide to check out what’s on the other side.
Prague districts are divided by numbers, and Praha 6 (the 6th district) is the largest one of all. The area between the Castle and Václav Havel’s Airport covers pretty much the entire northwestern tip of the city and is home to some 100,000 residents. If it were a city on its own right, its population would rank it somewhere between the 5th and 7th place in the whole country. There are several interesting places to visit there, so let’s have a look!
The entire district consists of several cadastrals (boundaries), the most important one being Dejvice. (Fun fact: ‘Dejvice’ literally means ‘Give more’ in Czech). Dejvice is closest to the center, so we’ll start here, at Hradčanská metro stop – from which you can hop on a tram at Praha-Dejvice station to get directly to the Castle. It’s only two stops. Now, one of the cornerstones of Czech pub life is a train station pub called ‘nádražka’ – a cheap, dirty pub where workers go to have a beer while waiting for their ride. Interestingly enough, ‘nádražka’ at Praha-Dejvice has over the years turned into a sort of regular restaurant slash pub slash concert venue – they even have a huge beer garden that is always packed when the sun is shining (and that is often not a requirement). The waiters are used to everything, including drunk punks who go to the bar with a tea kettle and ask to have it filled with vodka shots. Go ahead, have a beer, we’ll wait.
Overall, the whole area of Dejvice is regularly voted as Prague’s most livable neighborhood. It centers around Vítězné náměstí (The Victory Square), which is locally nicknamed ‘Kulaťák’ (‘Roundabout’) because it’s in the shape of… well, a huge roundabout. This is also the place where the green metro line (A) ends: the station is called Dejvická, a term you probably can translate by now. While you’re there, go check out the Semafor theater – it’s one of the most famous venues where the legendary Czech and Czechoslovakian comedians have performed. Aside from comedy theaters, Dejvice is largely seen as a haven for the upper class and IT-oriented people. The reason for this is simple: first, the residential areas are spacious, very nice and kinda expensive; and second, Charles University has several technological facilities located there.
Let’s leave Dejvice for now and move on. Neighboring the area is a small, village-like ‘hood called Střešovice; this word means something like “Rooftown,” so you can probably imagine why living there is a heaven and hell at the same time. The area itself is serenely beautiful: close to the center, literally some few hundred meters from the Castle, yet still absolutely calm and filled with beautiful landscape. On the other hand, there is a rock underneath it, so good luck getting there in a hot sunny day without drooling like a St. Bernard. Also, whereas Dejvice is expensive; Střešovice is downright luxurious. This is due to the large number of well-preserved functionalist villas, so if you’re into architecture and walking, you know where to go.
The outer parts of Praha 6 are tailor-made for long summer days. Take Břevnov, for example: this cadastral has practically everything a romantic soul needs to spend a perfect afternoon. After a delicious lunch you can go relax at Petynka, an outside swimming pool — that is of course if you don’t mind the crowds during summer season. If you’d rather avoid the crowds, there are other options – like visiting the beautiful Břevnov monastery (‘Břevnovský klášter’), a Benedictine archabbey dating back to the 10th century. Bear in mind we are still talking about places within short walking distance from the Castle. If you don’t mind going to the city outskirts, try one of Břevnov’s famous parks, Vypich and Ladronka. They’re both so incredibly spacious you could easily play a game of Quidditch there and still not disturb those playing football, frisbee, or javelin throwing at the horizon. In fact, multi-stage music festivals are often held here. If you ride a bike, inline skate, run, do cross-country skiing, like to study outside, or own a dog or two, this is the perfect place for you.
Both Ladronka and Vypich are practically flat, which is not the case with Divoká Šárka (Wild Šárka – the latter being a woman’s name). While Ladronka and Vypich are parks, Šárka is a nature reserve – still perfectly reachable by tram, but absolutely unique within the city borders. This breathtakingly beautiful place is located in the northwestern outskirts of Prague, in the Vokovice area, and we largely recommend visiting it. Seriously, go spend an afternoon there. The tourist guides often talk about how gorgeous nature in Czech Republic can be, with its cliffs, forests and creeks, and there you have a perfect piece of it just half an hour from Dejvice. Believe me, it’s worth it.