You don’t have to be in Prague long to realise that it is absolutely full of beautiful buildings. Of course, it goes without saying that if you are planning a visit to Prague, you will more than likely see the National Theatre, St. Vitus’s Cathedral and the Church of St. Nicholas in the district of Malostrana. These are some of Prague’s most well known sites and they are undoubtedly spectacular. However, this article is not going to discuss such buildings in any great detail, because you will find them in almost every guidebook. Instead, I have decided to put together this list of some of Prague’s better kept secrets. These are 10 of my favourite buildings in Prague, each of which is a little off the beaten track. They are undoubtedly a mixed bunch. Some are here for their grandeur, some for their quaint charm, some for their over-whelming presence, some are abandoned, some a little eccentric, some are pretty central and others are a bit more of a journey.
1) The Church of St. Michael (Smichov)
This gorgeously ornate wooden chapel is actually one of my all time surprise discoveries in Prague. It is hidden away in Petrin Park and is a little tricky to find but will be well worth the effort. It is pretty close to the Kinsky Palace (which you will see immediately if you are entering the park from the Svandovo Divadlo tram stop). Just walk uphill a little from the palace and you should spot the church.
It was actually first constructed in a Ukrainian village in 1793. It was given to the city of Prague in 1929 and was shipped over 1 piece at a time and then rebuilt in its current location.
2) The Jerusalem Synagogue (New Town)
This synagogue is actually bang in the centre of Prague, so you could perhaps argue that it isn’t really “off the beaten track”. However, it’s located down a relatively quiet side street and I lived in Prague for many years without even knowing of its existence. Therefore, at least for me, it counts as a hidden gem. You will find the synagogue at Jeruzalémská 1310/7, just a short walk from Prague’s main train station.
3) The Baba Ruins (Dejvice)
So there’s actually not much left of what was once a 17th century summer house. However, this hilltop ruin is one of my favourite spots in Prague. Graffiti artists have controversially made the ruins into a canvas for their art over the past few years, but you can make up your mind about whether this adds to or detracts from the undeniable beauty of the Baba Ruins. The Baba ruins are around a 30 minute uphill hike from the tram stop Nadrazi Podbaba.
4) St. Wenceslas Church (Vrsovice)
I just love Prague’s Vrsovice district and those of you who read my article An Afternoon Stroll through the Charming District of Vrsovice might remember that I was particularly blown away by the vast scale and sheer presence of the Church of St. Wenceslas. Designed by Czech Architect Josef Gocar and built in 1929, there’s something undeniably pleasing but also incredibly powerful and this church. The church is close to the tram stop Vrsovicke Namesti.
5) Strahov Stadium (Strahov)
Another of my more recent Prague discoveries was Strahov Stadium. According to some accounts, Strahov is actually the biggest stadium in the world and it certainly is an impressive sight to behold. Quite simply, it’s enormous. I attempted to take a photo of it, but no matter how far back I stood, I just couldn’t fit it into one shot. Although the stadium is currently being used as training grounds for Sparta Prague Football Club, it has an overwhelming abandoned and somewhat ghostly feel to it.
Under Communism, Strahov Stadium was used to host displays of synchronised gymnastics displays on an unbelievably massive scale. For more information about the stadium and its history, you can read the article Abandoned Prague: Strahov Stadium, which I wrote soon after my first visit to the stadium.
6) Saloun Villa (Vinohrady)
The Saloun Villa is a simply stunning example of Art Nouveau architecture, which was designed by Czech sculptor Ladislav Saloun to be used as his own personal studio. Saloun was a major figure on the Czech Art Nouveau scene and his studio was even visited by Alfons Mucha. The Villa can be found on Slovenska Street and is a 15 minute walk from Namesti Miru Metro Station (A Line) or a 10 minute walk from the tram stop Jana Masaryka.
7) Vysehrad Train Station (Vysehrad)
Continuing along the theme of Art Nouveau gems, we come to the crumbling beauty which is Vysehrad Train Station. Now boarded up, abandoned and covered in graffiti, there is something quite tragically striking about this now disused train station.
8) Pacoldova Vapenka (Velka Chuchle)
The Pacoldova Vapenka in Velka Chuchle was built in the 18th century and was used to process locally mined limestone. This beautiful and unique building is considered to be of great historical and industrial significance and a lot of money has been spent on protecting and preserving it. The building itself is fenced off, so unfortunately it’s not possible to get up close to it but this eye-catching structure is well worth a visit. To get here, you need to take a 10 minute bus ride from Smichovske Nadrazi Train Station to the stop Velka Chuchle. After visiting the Pacoldova Vapenka, it’s well worth exploring some of the spectacular nature trails which are to be found in this area of the city.
9) Troja Chateau (Troja)
This rather grand Baroque Chateau down by the riverside in the beautiful district of Troja, is surrounded by a vast ornate garden and vineyards. Chateau itself if part of the National Gallery of Prague and is home to many great works of art. The grand staircase leading up to the chateau is one of its most eye-catching features and it is lined with sculptures representing the clash between titans and the classical gods. There are many interesting sites in the district of Troja, including Prague Zoo, Prague’s Botanical Gardens and the Fata Morgana tropical glasshouse. The Chateau’s closest bus stop is Kovarna (bus 112 from Nadrazi Holesovice). However, it is also possible to take a very pleasant walk through Stromovka Park and then over the river, which will also take you to the Chateau.
- Entry to the Chateau costs 120CZK and it is open from 10am-6pm everyday except for Friday, when it is open from 1pm-6pm.
10) Vystaviste Holesovice (Holesovice)
Our final stop is probably one of Prague’s grandest, most imposing yet also most impressive and ornately decorated structures. The giant exhibition hall located in Prague’s Holesovice district is home to ever changing temporary exhibitions. The grounds are also home to Prague’s Lapidarium and there are currently outdoor film screenings here every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening. To get here, simply take tram 6 or 12 to the stop Vystaviste Holesovice. For more information about the programme of film screenings, check out this website.