After the summer break with all its rather tourist oriented jingle jangle the vacationers are getting their city back – I don’t mean the permanently overcrowded downtown but the Prague that offers her citizens a rich cultural life which you – travellers, not tourists, are welcome to experience as well.
My selection is, of course, a personal choice, but with the help of the links provided you can put together your personal menu. I – running little ARCO Guesthouse – am more than ready to help you with that, as you could sometimes get lost in translation, and I am offering themed city walks that give you deep insight into the city’s history, complementing the visit of a concert, a museum, an exhibition.
Apart from a wide variety of music from classical to Jazz to contemporary (Struny podzimu – the Strings of Autumn, Oct. 9 through Nov. 10) there is presently a lot happening around the celebrations of the foundation of the Republic a hundred years ago.
On October 11 starts SignalFestival, four days of videomapping and light art all over the city. It runs till October 14. One of its main venues is the church at náměstí Míru, the main square of Prague 2, about 10 minutes walking from ARCO Guesthouse.
The next highlight starts on October 25: Prague’s DesignBlok, the city’s most attractive design show at the old fairground, a tram stop from the Exhibition palace, see below.
My favourite exhibition this autumn has started already and runs till January 20, 2019: František Kupka, together with Kandinsky and Mondrian one of the pioneers of abstract painting. His re-discovery is closely linked to the story of the Grande Dame of Czech art sponsoring, Meda Mladková, initiator of three small museums here, who recently celebrated her 99th birthday. If you’re interested and you’re a guest of ARCO Guesthouse, I tell you all about the exciting life of this woman and what she did for this city. (I recently visited the newly opened tiny but stunning glass museum she founded).
And even if you don’t join scheduled events, a stroll through the oldest part of the extensive Olšany Cemeteries in an Autumn scenery can be an incredibly meditative and spiritual experience.
Here are a few suggestions: Some of the numerous shows of the Strings of Autumn Festival take place at unusual locations, such as the opening concert on Oct. 9 with Ars Nova Copenhagen & Paul Hillier at the Vítkov Memorial, the bunker-like museum of Czechoslovak history on the steep hill North of the central railway station, displaying a gloomy resemblance to Soviet architecture, even if it was built already in the 1920ies. On October 10 you can see and hear Kamelot, a US Rock band, as I would have called it, officialy categorised as “Symphonic Rock”, at Palác Akropolis, one of the rare examples of Art Deco in Prague, with a show hall, a club, a restaurant and a café. The stage offers a very well selected bandwidth from Alternative to Electronic or Ambient. It is located close to Prague’s TV tower, a 20 minute walk from ARCO Guesthouse.
Closer to ARCO Guesthouse is a most romantic park with a huge villa in its centre, once the private property of a railway millionaire. Today, the villa is the office of an international legal institution, but sometimes it opens its doors to the public for concerts and guided tours. On Oct. 10 its music room offers a chamber concert called “Dialogue Between Violin and Contrabass”, featuring Bach, Dvořák, Smetana, Janáček, Suk, and Stamic. The tickets are free but have to be collected on Oct. 1st at the local district administration. We’ll try to get a few tickets for you.
Břevnov Monastery is one of the oldest abbeys in the country and on October 17 its church is the stage of one of the gala concerts on the occasion of the Republic’s birthday (The website is only in Czech, we’ll help you with that). It’s the soloists of the Chamber Orchestra of Prague’s Academy of Music and Performing Arts HAMU, playing Suk, Zelenka, Dobiáš, Mozart and Janáček. The impressive buildings are located in a beautiful park, surrounded by a wall, sheltering the silent place of worship from its noisy neighbours. From ARCO guesthouse it’s a 36 minutes ride on tram 22, and there is also a quite reputed restaurant and the monastery’s own brewery.
Another treat is the show of Brazilian piano and guitar virtuoso Egberto Gismondi on October 18 at the sober but very impressive church/concert hall of the St. Agnes Monastery, a very attractive former abbey, today the National Gallery’s medieval collection and a sculpture garden which one can visit without ticket. It is an oasis of peace, a 10 minute stroll from overcrowded Old Town Square.
If you like the Punch Brothers go the Grand Hall of the Lucerna shopping mall. Don’t be mistaken, this is a downtown building complex from 1921, financed by later president Václav Havel’s grand uncle and built by his grandfather. Even if unfortunately not renovated, the mall, its stages and the cinema are well worth a visit, as well as the slightly dusty café. The passages all across the building and their continuation on the opposite side of Vodičková street, leading to Františkánská zahrada, the Franciscan Garden, are an ideal alternative to circumvent touristically devastated Wenceslas Square.
A new Jazz voice will fill the concert hall of palác Akropolis on November 13. Her name is SOMI, don’t mix her up with the dreadful homonymous teenie girlie band.
In case you speak German: Every year in late Autumn major German, Austrian and Swiss stages move to Prague for the Prague Theatre Festival of German Language. This year it’s from November 18 till December 1st,. The programme will be published these days, tickets will be available from November 1st on www.theater.cz/de.
The largest division of the National Gallery is the Veletržní palác, the Exhibition Palace, which is being rearranged at the moment. From October 24 you can see, among many other collections, its compilation of French art from the late 19th and the early 20th centuries. This is not just another collection of French art but is linked closely to eminent political developments and a special relationship between Prague and Paris at that time. I can tell you a lot about these exciting developments, and the ARCO Guesthouse library has two doctoral theses on this issue, one of them donated to us by the author personally.
This year has the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic, and thus there are lots of events, among other things the reopening of the National Museum (Oct. 28) after extensive renovation. The creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918 was the result of a long period of independence whose reverberations one can see and feel till today if one is familiar with Czech and European history. If the jubilee website is too confusing for you, we’ll help you with choosing specific events.
All this is just a small excerpt of what there is. I haven’t talked about Modern dance, I didn’t include opera and ballet as it is easy to find, and there are lots of interesting events not mentioned in the official calendars. What’s happening before Christmas I’ll tell you in my next post.
Valid from Oct. 1st till Dec. 15, 2018 and Jan. 7 till March 31st, 2019:
- 3 nights, double room w. bathroom, breakfast plus city tour (History, literature, architecture, music, theatre etc, noon till evening with breaks) and help with your visiting agenda €250
- 3 nights, studio (larger, with kitchenette and small hall), rest same as above €280
- 5 nights, double room, rest as above €320
- 5 nights studio, rest as above, zu €350
Book fast! We have only 8 rooms…