THE CZECH REPUBLIC capital may be best known for Kafka, cheap beer, and winding cobbled streets, but these locals are opening the door to a different side of Prague -- a side that involves a thriving music scene, unusual rooftop views, a truly sensational loaf of bread, and one very unique bookstore.
JITKA SCHNEIDEROVÁ | Stage and screen actress
Schneiderová listens to the Czech funk-jazz band Monkey Business at the LUCERNA MUSIC BAR , a wood-paneled club in the basement of the 1920s Palác Lucerna . “[The bar] is old-school, and it’s got history and atmosphere from the ’60s,” she says.
MICHAEL BIELICKY | New media artist
Climb to the top of the eighteenth-century ASTRONOMICKÁ VEZ (ASTRONOMICAL TOWER) IN THE KLEMENTINUM , a working weather station in the library of Prague’s Univerzita Karlova (Charles University). “It gives you a very unusual and very close-up view of the roofs of Prague in all their weird point shapes. If you walk through Prague, you never see the tops of the buildings,” says Bielicky.
ARNOŠT LUSTIG | Author, Diamonds of the Night and Lovely Green Eyes
Lustig says he likes to stand in STAROMESTSKÉ NÁMESTÍ (OLD TOWN SQUARE)  and munch on a loaf of caraway-seeded brown bread called Bochnik from MICHELSKÉ PEKÁRNY , at the corner of Dlouhá and Dušní streets. “It’s sensational,” he says. Of course, if you’re not keen on standing, we suppose you could always find a park bench and sit down.
MARKÉTA MALIŠOVÁ | Director of the Franz Kafka Center
“Open the door to the courtyard of Široká 14 [which happens to be the KNIHKUPECTVÍ FRANZE KAFKY (FRANZ KAFKA BOOKSTORE )]. You see what Prague looked like 100 years ago, before the tourists came,” she says.
PAVLA MICHALKOVÁ | Fashion designer (with her sister Olga), Pavla & Olga; stage and screen actress
Michalková likes to step out of her dress shop near the U.S. Embassy and into the tiny ground-level LATIN ART CAFÉ , where Brazilian guitarists and Gypsy funk bands play. “It’s a warm spot in a cold winter,” she says.
PETER S. GREEN lived in Prague for 13 years and knows many of its finest nooks and crannies.
David Ondrícek | Filmmaker, Sámotari (Loners)
Ondrícek likes to sit at the downstream tip of Strelecký Ostrov, an island in the middle of the Vltava river. “You see what the tourists see from a different angle. When I have something to think about, I go there and sit by the water,” he says. While you’re there, check out the restaurant of the same name.
Hana Andronikova | Novelist and playwright, Zvuk slunecních hodin
Any time flutist Jirí Stivín is playing at the Agharta Jazz Centrum, a smoke-filled cellar near Wenceslas Square, Andronikova is front and center. “[Stivín is] a genius. It’s Jethro Tull mixed with jazz,” she says.
Stephan Templ | Architectural historian
Take the 131 bus from Hradcanská metro station to Baba, a group of 32 modernist homes built in 1932 for Czechoslovakia’s then newly independent leading academics, architects, and artists. “They are simple, clean, functionalistic,” he says of the homes. “They built a virtual island outside of Prague for the intellectuals, in the middle of fields overlooking the city.”
Zuzana Stivínová | Actress, singer, and Jirí Stivín’s daughter
Stivínová will sit for hours with friends in the lobby café of the Divadlo na Zábradlí, the theater where Havel’s plays were first performed. “The walls are hung with pictures from 50 seasons of theater,” she says. “The cast all hang out there after the show, till three or five a.m., and it never seems crowded. It’s like an inflatable space.”
Katya Heller | Heller Gallery co-owner and a Prague native
The Czechs pioneered the use of architectural art glass. Walk up to the wedding chapel (don’t get cold feet) in Old Town Hall and you will see the 25-foot-long glass flower by Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová. “It’s a masterwork of simplicity. It brings out the original structure of the building before it was draped in Renaissance and neo-Gothic embellishments,” says Heller, whose New York gallery represents Libenský and Brychtová.
If You Go
Agharta Jazz Centrum
Astronomická Vez in the Klementinum
Mariánské námestí 5
Baba housing estate
Take bus number 131 from Hradcanská metro station
Divadlo na Zábradlí
Anenské námestí 5
Knihkupectví Franze Kafky (Frank Kafka bookstore)
Latin Art Café
Jánský Vršek 2
Lucerna Music Bar
Vodickova 36, Prague 1
Old Town Hall, in Old Town Square
Pavla & Olga
Can be reached by the Legii bridge at the foot of Národní street
Strelecký Ostrov Restaurant
Strelecký Ostrov 336, Praha 1