Written by Zofia Froněk
Sandwiched between the industrialism of Smíchov and the paneláky of Barrandov Sídliště is an unexpected jewel – the village of Hlubočepy. Nestled under some rugged cliffs, popular with climbers, this compact village is the best-kept secret of Prague 5. One would not imagine that a traditional Czech village could remain with its own identity intact, resisting the modern in that it refuses to be swallowed up by the city. Hlubočepy has its own specific and charming character which makes it well worth a visit.
The reason for the apparent time-warp that has held off the invasion of ugly development is the protected National Park of Prokopské Údolí. This is an area of forest and paths, perfect for walking and cycling and very popular at the weekend with locals and those who want to escape into nature without travelling far from the city. You can enter the park from either Hlubočepy itself, or from Nové Butovice, although I recommend having a map with you. For a good place to start, take the metro to Radlická stop (B line) and then head in the direction of the radio mast. From Děvín hill directly above Smíchov you have a stunning view of the whole of the city and the Vltava. It is a popular place for kite-flyers, picnics, and romantic walks. In winter, many people make use of the area for cross-country skiing, too. You can walk or cycle along the paths for a couple of hours, forgetting the city completely.
Other sports facilities include the recently extended tennis centre (www.tenishlubocepy.cz) and the nearby Aquacentre in Barrandov, opened last year (www.aquadream.cz). This water-world has several pools, including a 25-metre fitness pool, a whirlpool and a 115 metre-long toboggan chute. It is open daily, with entrance prices starting at 79 czk.
If you want something to eat in the village you have the option of several pubs. By far the best food is to be found at ‘U Škopů´ (www.uskopu.cz). The prices of a main dish hover around 70-80 czk. Alternatively, the Besední restaurant next to the railway is truly a local joint, where the villagers are to be found enjoying live music of varying quality on a Friday night, and singing long and loud into the early hours of Saturday morning. They also host ‘domácí zabijačka´ (pig roasts) some weekends in the autumn – the next one is October 13, starting at 10am. The newly-opened restaurant in the tennis centre serves a wider variety of dishes, including salads and vegetarian options. Try the homemade pumpkin soup with ginger; it´s perfect.
If you prefer coffee and chat to pork and sausage, there is Café RVéčko, next to the tennis centre, serving drinks and desserts.
Although small, Hlubočepy is a big-player in the world of show business. It is home to the Three Brothers Productions, a company specializing in historical movies. They create their own weapons and armour and have been involved in the production of several high-profile films including The Brothers Grimm, Van Helsing and A Knight´s Tale. Just above Hlubočepy is Barrandov Studios, one of the largest film studios in Europe, which is also in the business of producing movies of international fame (among others Mission Impossible, Bourne Identity, Oliver Twist) – they are currently filming the second of the Narnia movies. Unfortunately it is closed to the public, and a large wall prevents curious eyes from catching a glimpse of the stars in action on set.
With its proximity to the city and yet the charm of unspoiled nature at your doorstep, property prices in Hlubočepy are unsurprisingly high. Barrandov and Hlubočepy being the residential areas of choice for many of the former Communist politikos, both villages are awash with villas of extensive proportions and equally generous market prices. In the centre of Hlubočepy, several tasteful apartment developments have given the village a more up to date architectural ‘chic´, however these sell fast even at around 60,000 czk per m2.
Although it would be an ideal base for visitors to Prague who prefer to withdraw from the noise of the city by night, there is little in the way of accommodation on offer in the village. The Hotel Prokop is reasonably-priced, but is often fully-reserved due to travel agency bookings. There is definitely scope here for a couple more mid-range hotels or pensions – you´ll need to go further towards Smíchov and Anděl to find a choice of hotels. For an evening´s entertainment, The Folklore Garden (www.folkloregarden.cz) provides groups of tourists with traditional Czech food and folk dancing by professional dancers in costume. Prices range from 500 czk per person (for the show plus one drink) to 990 czk (for dinner, show, unlimited drinks and hotel transfer).
It´s no wonder the village and park are a popular weekend spot. You can enjoy a day in some beautiful surroundings and afterwards, emerging blinking into the dust and bustle of the city once more, the experience has a flavour of ‘Alice in Wonderland´ – it feels a little like it might never really have happened at all.
How to get there:
On PT – By bus – From Na Knížecí bus station, take bus 120 or 104 (journey 12 mins) to Hlubočepy. Regular service, limited at weekends.
By tram – From nádraží Smíchov, take tram 12 or 14 (journey 7 mins) to Hlubočepská stop, then 10 minute walk up Hlubočepská street. Regular service.
By car/bike – From nádraží Smíchov, follow the route of tram 12, 14 and 20 along Na Zlíchově street over the railway and continue onto Hlubočepská street, which will take you into the village.