This Wednesday saw the launch of the new Prague USE.IT map, the fourth edition of a map which takes visitors off the beaten path. USE.IT, with a history dating back to the late 1960s, represents “no nonsense” tourism for young people interested in getting closer to the heart of the city and real life.
“The USE.IT NGO launched the map today and the map is really special. It is made by young local people living in Prague who want to recommend places they like to friends and travelers. We want to show visitors a Prague which WE know. And, it is free.”
That’s really part of the overall philosophy, isn’t it? I understand the history goes back to the early 1970s and the hippy era when people were hanging around Copenhagen and the idea was to offer an alternative. Are the original principles still true today?
“Yes, very much so. The headquarters of USE.IT Europe in Brussels, which are quite strict about the rules, outline and recommend what a USE.IT map should offer. Some of them are still hippies, including the hair, and they are fun people and we are friends, but the idea is strictly upheld.”
Do you think the map shows a side of the city that is left out of mainstream maps or guides?
“Well, it definitely takes people beyond just the historic centre, to quarters like Žižkov, where there might be recommendations for this or that bar, where people can meet and talk. Places where people actually live, where they can meet ‘us’ and get to understand the culture a bit more.”
Where can people get the map?
“The first place I would recommend is our information centre in Prague 1 where we are open every day in the summer. Prague City Tourism also carries the map, as do some 25 hostels, universities and it is also available at the airport. It isn’t hard to get a hold of for international students and others.”