Villages: Dolní Břežany

Zofia Froněk visits the small village just south of Prague

Expats.cz

Written by Expats.cz
Published on 29.09.2007 00:25 (updated on 29.09.2007)

Written by Zofia Froněk
for Expats.cz

Just to the south of Prague, the northern edge of the village of Dolní Břežany is the border of Prague city. You´ll know you´re entering the village when you see ‘František‘ and ‘Marie‘, two semi-nude sculptures (František is wearing only socks!) by local sculptor and teacher Jaromir Švaříček, and which definitely raise an eyebrow or two with passers-by. (He put them there so that people would slow down to look, and so drive more carefully through the village.)

Between Dolní Břežany and the city itself lie open fields where in the early morning and late evening you can see a herd of deer grazing peacefully. Occasionally even wild pigs roam here, incongruous against a backdrop of the Prague skyline. Despite this rustic setting, the village is expanding rapidly. In the last few years, a host of new family houses and flats have formed several new roads, so make sure you have use of an up-to-date map when you visit. There is also a major construction project underway in the, until now, fairly nondescript village centre. By September 2008 this will include new flats, houses, offices, shops, cafes and a landscaped park area complete with lake. The development will almost double the present population of around 2500 residents, but it is a tasteful design and, for once, reasonably-priced real estate – many of the flats were already sold before any building-work was underway.  At the time of writing, it is still very much a construction site, but you can get a feel for the finished product by looking at the images on the website www.dolnibrezany.eu.

As well as this, the authorities seem intent on raising the image of the village, and have already completed a new bus stand and two roundabouts. This boom of new familes, many relocating from the city, has its own challenges. The pre-school is full to overflowing, and the good-sized but basic potraviny is hardly sufficient to service the residents‘ grocery needs. The post office, too, has such limited opening hours that sending a parcel can feel like a mission worthy of 007 himself. 

There is a small castle dating from 1600 but, like many of the old fortresses found in Czech villages, it is badly in need of reconstruction and has limited access. This also incorporates the chapel of sv. Máří Magdaleny, dating from 1886 and still used occasionally for services and concerts.

The real joy of the village is the accessibility to truly beautiful countryside. In every direction you can find fields and forested areas, making it perfect for biking. The neighbouring hamlet of Točná has its own small airport with a flying school where you can find sightseeing air tours and, if you dare, you can even take your first flying lesson for around 1800 czk/hour. For the more experienced, it´s possible to rent a plane (more info at www.ulltocna.cz).

On the top of the hill above Dolní Břežany, overlooking the Vltava, visitors with a little determination will be able to track down the site of the Závist Oppidum. This, for those less versed in ancient history, was a Celtic settlement or town, encircled by a wall or moat. Závist, dating from 500 BC and originally covering some 170 hectares, was the largest in Czech Republic and one of the most important in Europe. The site has been considerably excavated in the past, and the discoveries of pottery, graves, walls, houses and an akropolis are well-documented on various display-boards for visitors (unfortunately only in Czech, although it´s easy enough to follow the gist). The archeological findings have since been covered over for preservation purposes, but it´s a beautiful location with some wonderful views – the Celts chose well!

Back down in the village, you can find a couple of great eating places. The U Roubase pub offers tasty Czech food at good prices; prompt, friendly service and a pleasant summer terrace. For a slightly more sophisticated dining experience, we recommend Restaurant Podkova (located on the northern edge of the village), which specializes in Yugoslavian food. Imaginatively decorated with colourful patterned woks, the restaurant offers a welcoming atmosphere and delicious food, with definitely a notch-above-average service and an impressive wine list. Try the mixed grill – you can watch it sizzle as the chef prepares it in front of you.

Across the road, and under the same ownership, is the Hotel Ferro di Cavallo, a modern tourist hotel boasting “unparalleled and merry entertainment“ according to their website (see www.ferrodicavallo.cz). There is also a small vinoteque, as well as a solarium and a truly tiny fitness centre which, however,  still manages to accommodate five or so exercise machines and a couple of rotopeds. This part of the village was designed and built around the year 2000 by a Russian architect. Using warm, red brick, the flats and houses form a harmonious and aesthetically-interesting development in the now increasingly-popular ‘English style‘.

City plans for the next few years reveal that a metro ‘D‘ line may eventually extend from the centre, through Prague 4 to Písnice, which will, of course, be of great benefit to residents of Dolní Břežany. There will also be an exit for the village from the new Prague ring road, which will make connections to the Brno and Plzeň highways much faster. The proximity to some well-reputed international schools, such as the Prague British School and the English International School is also attractive.

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Overall, this is an up-and-coming area with a lot on offer, yet retaining its laid back rural atmosphere. Property prices are rising but still affordable, and there are plenty of nice walking and cycling opportunities with the promise of a cold beer at the end. What more could you want out of village life?

How to get there:

On PT -From Kačerov metro stop (line ‘C´), take bus 333 or 331 (journey 20 mins) to Dolní Břežany. Regular service weekdays, limited service weekends.

By car/bike – From Prague 4 Krč, head out of town on Libušská street, through Libuš and Písnice. Continue straight on and you will enter Dolní Břežany.