Zizkov The Most Bohemian District of Prague

Updated on: March 10, 2024 by Mick

Zizkov has always been the Bohemian part of Prague. It boasts the largest concentration of bars in Europe or even the world. During communism, there was a bar in every building. Today there are roughly 300 bars in Zizkov. On one street alone Borivajova, I once counted 38 different establishments selling alcohol. 85% of all tourists to Prague will never venture into Zizkov even though there are some quality hotels, pensions and hostels there.

Zizkov was historically a working-class district and was sometimes referred to as “Red Zizkov”, because so many of its inhabitants supported left-wing parties. Before World War II, it had a reputation as a rough area. This reputation spread across the whole former Czechoslovakia and it was still possible to trace it amongst the people many decades later. The Žižkovians were very proud of their bad reputation and up to this day they tend to refer to their neighbourhood as the “The free republic of Žižkov”. This sentiment was very often a source of inspiration for novelists or filmmakers. This was captured in a humorous novel by Vlastimil Rada and Jaroslav Žák, Z tajností žižkovského podsvetí (“Secrets of the Žižkov Underground”), and in a 1985 film by Ivo Novák, Fešák Hubert.

palac akropolis zizkov prague
The Palac Akropolis Cultural Centre, Zizkov, Prague.

Like many districts of the city, Žižkov today is socioeconomically diverse. It is undergoing a renewal, with many older buildings being reconstructed and restored. New fashionable cafes and restaurants are appearing and property prices are increasing rapidly.

Here are my picks of 5 authentic bars/Restaurants in Zizkov.

  1. U Vystrelenyho Oka (The Shot Out Eye) in lower Zizkov, is a legendary bar in Zizkov made famous because it hosted many of the Charter 77 meetings during Communism. They also do a small menu. Try the Gulas at only 60 Kc (€2.20 or $3).
  2. U Sadu is another legendary bar which is in business for over 80 years and serves food until 4 am every night.
  3. Nad Viktorkou is a local Czech bar run by the owner of the building. This bar has a great atmosphere open til 2 am every night.
  4. Herba Bar attracts a very Bohemian crowd open until 4 am every night.
  5. Pizza Roma is a 24/7 Pizzeria which is always busy and perfect with that late-night pizza.

There is still no McDonald's, KFC, Subway or Starbucks in Zizkov. Let's hope it stays this way. However, there is an emergence of trendier and hipper cafes and bars. 85% of all tourists to Prague will never venture into Zizkov even though, it is only 3 tram stops from Wenceslas Square (the city centre) and there are some quality hotels, pensions and hostels there.

The Palac Akropolis is recognized as a centre of cultural events in the area. Palac Akropolis was built as a cinema in the 1930s. It was used for showing propaganda films both during the Nazi Occupation and Communism. Two of Prague’s most-visible landmarks are in Žižkov: the National Monument, with its giant statue of Jan Žižka on horseback (by Bohumil Kafka, it is the largest equestrian statue in the world and the 216 meter-high Žižkov Television Tower, Prague’s tallest structure are located in Zizkov. The Zizkov TV Tower was built by the communists during the 1980s to scramble television signals from West German television channels at the time. Artist David Cerny added the crawling babies during the 1990s.

The very large Olšany Cemetery also takes up much of the district. The adjacent New Jewish Cemetery, one of two historic Jewish burial places in the district (the other being the Žižkov Cemetery next to the Žižkov Tower), contains the grave of Czech-German writer Franz Kafka.

Jara Cimrman Theatre Zizkov Prague
Jara Cimrman Theatre Zizkov Prague

The Járy Cimrmana Theatre is famous through out the Czech and Slovak Republics. Everybody knows it. The theatre has a kind of a cult status and theatre goers often have to buy their tickets 8 months in advance. I have seen people queuing for tickets through the night in the middle of winter in temperatures of -15 Celius.

Reigrovy Sady Beer Garden
Reigrovy Sady Beer Garden

Reigrovy Sady Beer Garden is located in Zizkov. It is one the largest and most popular beer gardens in Prague and the number of stalls serving beer and food is ever expanding.  Depending on the day there can be up to 12 different stalls opened. They even have their own microbrew called Reigr. It seats approx 2,000 people.

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