That the capital of the Czech Republic is a beautiful city is not news. But did you know that it is also excellent when it comes to steampunk?
I have visited Prague twice so far and admittedly only stayed in the Praha 1 district, so I can only guess what hidden gems lie in the other parts of the city.
Prague is full of beautiful Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Jugendstil architecture. You can walk through the town and you’ll be amazed at the beauty of the buildings everywhere, from high streets to small streets that seem to be hardly used other than by those that live there.
Detail of the leaded glass window by Mucha in the St-Vitus cathedral.
Jazz band busking in the street. They were actually playing proper traditional jazz. With added banjo.
And the clockpunk icon of Prague: the astronomical clock.
It actually caters to people interested in the era with beautiful Art Nouveau-themed hotels
And museums such as the Mucha Museum…
Film Special Effects museum…
And gramophone museum.
The National History Museum in turn is housed in an old radio station building, giving the dieselpunks something too. And of course, if you’re really into diesel era things, there is the Museum of Communism.
You can take a tour in town in one of the old timer tours…
And even drink real absinthe in one of the two Absintheries.
Just make sure to ask for absinthe WITHOUT dry ice because while the effect looks pretty, it does somewhat ruin the absinthe you’re drinking. Not to mention that this kind of dry ice is not suitable for human consumption full stop. Also stick to French and Swiss absinthes, as the Czech ones are of much lower quality.
For those looking for absinthe paraphernalia such as absinthe glasses, spoons, brouilleurs and fountains, the Absintherie is also a good place to browse, but be aware that you need to get it all home in one piece too.
Unlike many modern cities, Prague caters to vintage lovers. Even modern camera stores display (and often sell) vintage cameras. Offbrand film for otherwise hard to fuel Polaroid cameras is made by bigger stores and sold for pretty reasonable prices (cheaper than what I used to pay for actual Polaroid film for my 636 in any case!).
Not only that, but Prague is full of small shopping galleries, and it definitely worth to pop into each and every one you encounter. In one we found a chain of stores selling nothing but, working, antique and vintage cameras, telescopes and film equipment.
Another one housed an antique, second hand and new books book store. It was all in Czech, but the staff spoke English pretty well and if you collect certain books, it was a veritable treasure trove. I found a 1950s copy of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in Czech for a mere 80 CZK, which equals to about €3.
A fun note: while over here in Europe it can be a real struggle to find affordable copies of Jules Verne books, especially new editions, a publishing company in the Czech Republic still publishes the whole lot. Browsing one of the Luxor Book stores (a chain which also carries English and other language books, so worth visiting) we discovered a fair amount of books.
And talking to an employee it turned out that they “only had a few because they are so popular and sell out quite quickly”. Queued me impressed, because it’s been a long time since I had seen that many Verne books in one spot, especialy not in Belgium where I live!
All fangirl waffling about the works of Jules Verne aside: Prague is beautiful, and for the architecture alone it’s worth the visit. But aside from that, you can dine in an Art Nouveau restaurant for more than reasonable prices (surely much cheaper than what you’d pay in Central and Western Europe!), stay in Art Nouveau hotels, and spend your entire day exploring the rich history and visiting museums that fit right in with the steampunk, and to a lesser extend, dieselpunk eras. Even on a budget, you can take a trip back into history in an otherwise very much contemporary city, making it an excellent holiday location.