Villages: Koloděje & Běchovice

Zofia Froněk visits the small villages east of Prague

Expats.cz

Written by Expats.cz
Published on 16.09.2007 13:27 (updated on 16.09.2007)

Written by Zofia Froněk


for Expats.cz

This week, I headed east out of the city, to the small neighbouring villages of Koloděje and Běchovice.

Originally, in the Middle Ages, Koloděje got its name from wheelwrights (as do Czechs with the surname ‘Kolář‘) who settled by the ford over the river Rokytka, on what was known as the ‘Moravian Route‘, stretching from Prague eastwards. Today, Prague is, like every capital city, expanding in fits and bursts. As it does so, the borders are sometimes redefined to take in previously independent areas. In 1974 this meant that the historic village of Koloděje found itself within Prague city, and in 2001 it became Prague 21. Fortunately, it seems to be only the administration that has changed – the village itself is still a quiet, self-contained place with its own identity.

The first gothic fortress was built on the site in the 14th-century, and subsequently remodelled in the early 18th-century into the Baroque castle that you can now see. These days, visitors can only peer through the impressive gates, as the chateau and its extensive park are owned by the state and used by the Czech government for ceremonial purposes, foreign delegations and occasional VIP guests. Hang out in front of it long enough and you will see the likes of Topolánek and other Heads of State as they are driven in for meetings. It is said that it was a favourite weekend venue for Paroubek.

The castle has a fairly macabre recent history, too, as it was here that political prisoners were held and possibly tortured during the Stalinist Trials in the 1950s. It was also the residence of president T.G. Masaryk in 1919. Unfortunately it is rarely open to the public now due to security issues, but you can still watch the peacocks strutting around the fountain in the front courtyard.

AGENCY PROPERTIES

Apartment for sale, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 120m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for sale, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 120m2

Ke Stírce, Praha 8 - Kobylisy

Apartment for sale, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 78m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for sale, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 78m2

Dvořákova, Kralupy nad Vltavou

Apartment for rent, 1+KK - Studio, 37m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 1+KK - Studio, 37m2

Na slupi, Praha 2 - Nové Město

Apartment for rent, Flatshare, 120m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, Flatshare, 120m2

Mezitraťová, Praha 9 - Hrdlořezy

Next to the castle is a riding school, where you can either take a lesson or rent a horse or pony for trekking across the countryside. It costs around 250 czk/hour (more info at www.volny.cz/jizdarna ). For intermediate riders, one of the stable assistants will accompany you.

If you prefer to get around on two wheels instead of four legs, I recommend a quick trip to the little sv. Markéta chapel above the villages of Hájek and Královice, just south of Koloděje. There are some pretty footpaths around here, too. You can also find some picturesque views to the south-west of Koloděje, around the Podleský rybník. For those more into racket sports, a tennis centre is currently under construction in Koloděje, or you can make use of the squash courts in either Hájek or Dubeč.

The neighbouring village of Běchovice is home to Europe´s oldest annual road run, which is celebrating its 111th year after the first runners set off from the starting line in 1887. The race is 10km, starting from the centre of Běchovice village and finishing in Žižkov, and there are many age-categories for runners, including one for the over-eighties. For the past five years the event has also incorporated an in-line (roller-blade) race of 5km. This alone can attract over 200 participants, with everybody racing together; from the lycra-clad super-fit, to pensioners and parents skating with babies in prams. It´s truly a family occasion. If you´d like to join in the fun, be quick – the 2007 event is on 30th September! Register online (by 25th Sept) at www.bechovice-praha.cz , and then pay the fee (200 czk) and pick up your race number at the office in the základní škola, by the starting point in Běchovice village.

If you would rather not run the risk of blisters, you can enjoy life at a more leisurely pace at one of the eating places in the village or nearby. The Vinárna ‘U Sittů ‘ is close by the castle in Koloděje and serves a selection of Czech wines as well as a fairly meat-heavy menu and desserts in which fruit and cream all seem to figure largely. At V Lipách 110, you will find the oh-so-imaginatively-named ‘Pizzeria No. 110‘ (see www.no110.cz) , where you can order a good variety of pizzas and pastas at average prices, as well as salads and several types of ‘Spanish rice‘ (which is not, unfortunately, paella, but rather its Italian cousin, the risotto). The service is friendly and there is a pleasant summer garden.

If your fridge is empty, you can try the potraviny in the village centre. This also sells take-out food (tip: try the potato salad). However, if you want greater variety, the nearest supermarkets (Lidl, Penny Market and Albert) are in Újezd nad Lesy, the next village to the north of Koloděje.

On the northern side of Koloděje, there is a fairly large area of new and luxurious family houses on several streets which have gone up over the last few years, and next to this, on the edge of the village, a large development of 78 land plots for family houses has just been started, with prices from 2,300 czk/m2. (see www.ekospol.com) As a testimony to the growing trend, the company warns “our housing projects are usually sold out long before the completion“.

The great advantage of life in a village is the peace and security. You soon get to know the people on your street, as well as their children and pets (for better or worse!). People look out for one another. Cars are not broken into so often. Neighbours exchange gardening tips and pass on gossip and advice, and life is lived outdoors much more than in the city‘s residential areas. “Běchovice is a village where everyone knows everyone,” says Jiří Santolík, the Mayor of Běchovice. The same could be said of Koloděje. Or of just about any small village, in fact, which has to be one of the charms of village life.

How to get there:

AGENCY PROPERTIES

Apartment for sale, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 120m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for sale, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 120m2

Ke Stírce, Praha 8 - Kobylisy

Apartment for sale, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 78m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for sale, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 78m2

Dvořákova, Kralupy nad Vltavou

Apartment for rent, 1+KK - Studio, 37m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 1+KK - Studio, 37m2

Na slupi, Praha 2 - Nové Město

Apartment for rent, Flatshare, 120m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, Flatshare, 120m2

Mezitraťová, Praha 9 - Hrdlořezy

Koloděje
On PT – From Depo Hostivař metro stop (line ‘C´), take bus 229 or 329 to Koloděje (journey 21 mins). Regular service weekdays, limited at weekends. From Černý Most metro stop (line ‘B‘), take bus 303 (journey 32 mins).

By car/bike – Scenic route – From the Europark shopping centre, Prague Štěrboholy, turn onto Ústřední road. In Štěrboholy village, turn right onto K Lesíku, towards Dubeč village. Continue on this road, passing through Dubeč, for around 5km. When you see the castle walls, turn left and you will enter Koloděje village.

Běchovice
On PT – From Černý Most metro stop (line ‘B‘), take bus 250 or 261 to Běchovice (journey 9 mins). Regular service, including weekends.

By car/bike – From the Prague Jižní Spojka (ring road), take exit 3, signed to Běchovice. This road, Českobrodská, will take you into Běchovice.