Thanks to Prague’s compact size, shopping is easily navigated on foot. Pařížská (‘Paris’) Street in the Old Town, a tree-lined boulevard of ornate Art Nouveau façades, is where to find designer boutiques, from Cartier to Hermès and Louis Vuitton. Those popping the question in Prague – as many do – should visit local jeweller Halada and Roberto Coin. Nearby Dušní Street is the heart of the (tiny) Fashion District, with home-grown labels Klara Nademlynska, Timoure et Group and Tatiana. The Czech Republic is famous for its handmade crystal, but those in the know frequent only a few glassmakers. Moser has lead-free crystal in luminous hues in its flagship store; the two Artěl boutiques offer modern designs created by founder and style guru Karen Feldman; and Material/Lasvit sells show-stopping chandeliers. Auction house Dorotheum is a must for antique glass and porcelain, while Antique Kaprova 12 has the finest selection of jewellery set with local Bohemian garnets.
Nestled in Malá Strana, Prague’s oldest and most picturesque district on the left bank of the Vltava River, Mandarin Oriental, Prague has many iconic sights within easy reach – the 14th-century Charles Bridge, the Baroque St Nicholas Cathedral and Prague Castle which towers overhead. The Castle, a city within a city, is worth exploring for its extraordinary architecture; sights include St Vitus Cathedral and the Old Royal Palace. The Lobkowicz Palace, on the Castle’s eastern side, showcases works by Canaletto, Brueghel the elder and Velázquez, as well as original scores by Beethoven and Mozart. Crossing Charles Bridge into the Old Town is Old Town Square, a vast plaza encircled by burghers’ houses, palaces and a Gothic cathedral anchored by the Old Town Hall’s tower, with its medieval Astronomical Clock. Crowds gather here on the hour to watch the centuries-old spectacle of 12 rotating Apostles, ending with a death knell and golden rooster’s crow. Nearby is the former Jewish Quarter, with the Old-New Synagogue, Old Jewish Cemetery, Jewish Museum and a synagogue enscribed with 80,000 holocaust victims’ names.
Romancing the Arts
The city that embraced Mozart has three opera houses, two ballet companies and three symphony orchestras, the Czech Philharmonic being the preeminent body. Book a plush box at the State Opera, Estates‘ Theatre or National Theatre. The art scene has had a revival in recent years. Museum Kampa puts on quality exhibitions, as does the Rudolfinum Gallery across the river. Somewhat edgier is the art scene in Holešovice, where old factory buildings are being converted into galleries and studios. The DOX Centre for Contemporary Art also stages shows, which are often provocative.