Ondřej Hrab is the founder and director of Archa Theatre, Prague’s leading contemporary arts venue. Since Hrab took the space over in 1991, Archa (Ark in English) has played host to many of the world’s top names in cutting-edge theatre and dance, as well as musicians of the calibre of Patti Smith, Randy Newman and Philip Glass. And given his deep, quarter-century association with the venue, it’s a natural starting point for our tour of “Ondřej Hrab’s Prague”.
insiders’ guides to the city
Journalist Jana Ciglerová has held several positions at the top Czech dailies Mladá fronta DNES and Lidové noviny, and now writes for the former’s weekly supplement Magazín DNES. Our tour of “her Prague” soon turns into a very enjoyable trip down memory lane, starting at Velryba (The Whale) on Opatovická St. The café has been one of the best spots of its kind in the city for nearly two and a half decades.
As one half of the award-winning duo Republic of Two and with his solo project Piano, Mikoláš Růžička is a well-known figure on the Prague music scene. A native of Bechyně in South Bohemia, the musician also has a day job teaching at the city’s Academy of Fine Arts. Our tour of “Mikoláš Růžička’s Prague” begins on Jiřího z Poděbrad square in front of Jože Plečnik’s modernist Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord.
Steve Gove is the founder and director of the Prague Fringe festival, which has just got underway in the Czech capital for the 15th time. The Scot has been living in the city since 1997 and is an infectiously enthusiastic guide to “his Prague”. Our tour begins at Malostranská Beseda, an historic venue on the main square in the Lesser Quarter that has been the hub of Prague Fringe since the building’s extensive renovation in the 2000s.
Václav Havelka leads the guitar band Please the Trees, whose fourth LP Carp picked up the prestigious Apollo prize for Czech LP of 2015. The Krkonoše-raised singer and songwriter also collaborates with lots of other musicians and regularly promotes concerts by major independent artists. Our tour of “Václav Havelka’s Prague” begins in a passageway between the streets Spálená and Opatovická that many residents probably have no idea exists. It’s home to Super Tramp Coffee, a newish café with wonderfully peaceful outdoor seating.
Currently running the arts website Proti šedi (Against the Grey), Jana Kománková has been a well-known figure on the Prague music scene for over two decades. The critic and Radio 1 DJ was born in the city and has lived her whole life in the Žižkov district. But our tour of “Jana Kománková’s Prague” starts in the adjacent neighbourhood of Vinohrady, specifically at the airy and stylish La Boheme café on Sázavská St.
Jan Valenta and Zuzka Daňková run Taste of Prague, a food tour company taking visitors to some of the city’s best cafés and restaurants. The couple also have a very impressive Prague Food Blog offering insider tips on the most happening spots in the Czech capital. Our tour of “their Prague” begins at EMA espresso bar, a cool, modern café just across the street from Masarykovo nádraží train station in the downtown area.
Alex Went is the man behind the Prague Vitruvius, a very impressive and useful website dedicated to the city’s architecture. Indeed, the Englishman, who works as head of communications at Prague College, probably knows a lot more about the Czech capital’s buildings and history than the vast majority of natives. In the first part of our tour of “his Prague”, Went gives me some fascinating into Moskevská St., the main drag in his Vršovice neighbourhood – beginning across the street from the “Rangherka” mansion.
Lukáš Houdek is a man of many activities. The coordinator of the government’s anti-racism Hate Free Culture project, he is also a photographer and curator as well as heading a publishers specialised in Romany literature. Houdek is from furthest West Bohemia and now lives in a village outside the capital. But for many years he called the Smíchov/Prague 5 district home – and it is there we begin our tour of “his Prague” at Cibulka, a rather hidden park.
Marek Hovorka is only based part-time in Prague. The rest of the time he lives in his hometown of Jihlava, where he has been running the Czech Republic’s most important documentary film festival for nearly two decades. When we caught up Hovorka was super busy, putting the finishing touches to the programme before the start of this year’s Jihlava in under a fortnight’s time. So instead of the usual My Prague format of visiting various spots, we discussed his relationship to the city at a café at Letenské náměstí in Prague 7, the district where he lives and works.