LETNÁ DISTRICT: overlooking Prague

The first thing that comes to many people’s minds when they think of Letná is probably Prague’s most well-know beer garden, perched on the high left bank of the river Vltava. The beer garden sits in the middle of Letná Park (Letenské Sady), a wide swath of green space frequented by walkers, runners, picnickers, bikers and rollerbladers, that stretches approximately 1.5 kilometers from tram stop Nábřeží Kapitána Jaroše on the east end, to Badeniho street and tram stop Chotkovy Sady on the west. Back in the late 1950s, Letná Park had the dubious distinction of being home to the largest Stalin statue that existed in any of the former Soviet satellite countries. It stood on the enormous stone dais where the Prague metronome stands today, clearly visible from the city center. But the monument was demolished in 1962 at the end of the Stalinist era when the USSR’s Krushchev-lead government was trying to eradicate the cult of personality that the dictator had built around himself during his lifetime. Today, the paved area around the metronome is a favorite hang-out for die-hard skateboarders, and the space beneath where the statue once stood is now occupied during the summer months by a beer bar with sporadic live music events. Leaving this park and strolling north through the district’s neighborhoods, one will find numerous shady residential streets dotted with restaurants, bars, cafes, and neighborhood shops. And strolling far enough, one will eventually come to one of Prague’s other largest greens spaces, Stromovka

The open green spaces of Letná Park. Photo courtesy of Aktron.

The open green spaces of Letná Park. Photo courtesy of Aktron.

This week, in addition to the above-mentioned outdoorsy spots, we’ve assembled a nowhere-near-complete list of things to do and see in the Letná district highlands while you’re visiting this fair city. Read on, and just click on the links for more information about anything you see…

Annual Festivals

Czech Beer Festival, 11-27 May, 2017, needs no further explanation, does it? Eat, drink, be merry, y’all.

Metronome Festival Prague, 23-24 June, 2017, is a new open-air music event just going into it’s second year, featuring both international and local performers. On the bill this year are Sting, Kasabian, and Young Fathers among many others.

Festival Letní Letná, 17 Aug. to 3 Sept., 2017, is a celebration of international circus and theater which is one of Prague’s biggest annual events. To look at what’s up for this year, click here.

The psychedelic playground and the view from Letenske Sady.

The psychedelic playground and the view from Letenske Sady. Phot by M. Rada.

 Restaurants

Mr. Hotdog Is it good, authentic, traditional Czech cuisine? Absolutely not. It’s all about chilli dogs, sliders, chilli-cheese fries, and fried pickles. And I’m told the vegetarian options are pretty special too. But who goes to a hotdog place to eat vegetarian? 

 Ristorantino da Matteo features solid Italian food at not particularly cheap prices for Prague, but not particularly expensive either.

Fraktal  serves burgers, quesadillas, ribs, and burritos. Not as good these days as it once was, but still worth trying.

Lokál Nad Stromovkou is part of the chain of Prague themed Lokál restaurants, this one specializing in all Czech food all the time.

La BodegaLetna’s only retro Spanish tapas bar.

Na Kovárně is a typical neighborhood pub with typical pub food and real decommissioned motorcycles hanging precariously from the rafters. 

Pho u Letné is neither a gourmet treat nor an atmospheric marvel, but it fills the need for Asian whenever the craving hits.

Big bad Joe no longer dominates the west bank skyline, but he used to...

Big bad Joe no longer dominates the west bank skyline, but he used to…

Quaint Neighborhood Hang-outs

Kyklop for cheap drinks, good company, and sporadic live music events and exhibitions.

Basecamp for a selection of hundreds of different kinds of international beers. A little bit cramped, but just think of it as cozy.

 Kavárna Pod Lipami for a nice little coffee shop where you can relax and read a book or write postcards home to your friends and family.

Elbow Room for a cocktail followed by a cocktail right before you have a cocktail. 

Other Random Stuff

BIO OKO is a cinema specializing in art house, cult films, and hip cinema which features regular film festivals and events.

Puzzle Room Prague Escape Gamessomething to try if your boss hasn’t yet sent you to one of these type of places as an office team-building exercise.

Veletržní Palácone of the main exhibition halls of National Gallery in Prague.

Where big bad Joe stands no longer. Bring your skateboard. Photo by Aktron

Where big bad Joe stands no longer. Bring your skateboard. Photo by Aktron

Jeff Fritz

I first came to the Czech Republic in 2004, and came to Prague to live in 2005. Since then, I've traveled all over the country and have spent almost as much time in the city as out of it, hiking the woods and mountains and attending open-air festivals. I spent 4.5 years working as a tour guide doing historical walks, brewery tours, ghost tours after dark, and acting as the beer master for a Czech beer tasting. Following that, I worked for 3 years as general manager of a large live-music venue in the Old Town, and 1.5 years as manager for a tea house and specialty beer bar in Letná. I have also worked as an actor, designer, and technical director for most of the English-language theatre companies in Prague. And my wife and I have been operating an independent theatre company here called Akanda since 2008. History, especially of Central and Eastern Europe, has been a passion of mine since university.

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