Prague Districts: Smíchov – part II.

Prague Districts: Smíchov – part II.

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Families and children
Like the other former industrial inner suburbs of Prague, Smíchov does not immediately spring to mind as a child-friendly neighborhood. Many properties lack gardens, and busy roads, noise, and traffic pollution plague some streets. But recreational space is certainly not lacking in Smíchov (see part I), and while getting to some parks involves a bit of legwork, others, most notably Dětský ostrov, are within easy reach. This island, as its name suggests, is geared towards children, and features a huge playground for kids of all ages. Children can also play sports such as tennis at Dětský ostrov. Access to the playground is from Janáčkovo nábřeží.

The Nový Smíchov shopping mall has a children’s corner, and parents may be interested to know that the mall also has a couple of toy shops. The latest children’s films are screened at the Cinema City Nový Smíchov multiplex in the mall, and at the nearby Cinestar Praha-Anděl multiplex – while most versions of children’s films are dubbed on Czech screens, these two cinemas will often screen an English-language version.

Local centers for children include a children’s center in Klamovka, a few tram stops from Anděl. It is run by Prague City Council and one of a few such establishments in Prague (see “Karlín – Part 1” article). It’s open to expat children who speak Czech.

Klamovka Park
Klamovka Park

Education
There are no English-speaking international schools in Smíchov, although the private Lycée Français de Prague provides education based on the French system. In terms of publicly-funded education, the local authorities run nursery schools, elementary schools, and high schools in Smíchov. For full information about nursery and primary education in the neighborhood, see the Prague 5 Borough website.

Sport and leisure
Sport and leisure facilities are one of Smíchov’s strong points, with a diverse range to choose from. There are no publicly sports centers, although most of the privately run facilities dotted around the neighborhood are reasonably priced.

The two Holmes Place fitness centers in Prague are among the capital’s more expensive. At Holmes Place Smíchov, formerly the Factory Pro gym before being taken over by Holmes Place, you can exercise in the gym, go for a swim, or play squash and other sports. The Holmes Place Premium Anděl is more luxurious, and its facilities include a gym and indoor cycling.  

A driving range and putting green may sound rather unlikely in highly built-up Smíchov, but that’s what you’ll find at the Erpet Golf Centrum, as well as badminton and squash. Squash fans can also play at the Arbes Squash Centrum, which also has a very small gym. Delroy’s Gym specializes in kickboxing, Thai boxing and classical boxing, although it no longer has a weights gym. If you’re a climber, you can make use of the climbing wall at the Lezecké Centrum Smíchoff.

Entertainment and culture
Inevitably, given the location of Smíchov, many people head into the city center for cultural activities. But there are a few local possibilities, and cinemagoers are well catered for. The Nový Smíchov shopping mall houses the Cinema City Nový Smíchov multiplex, and its rival, the Cinestar Praha-Anděl, is just a block away.

If you’re a theatre buff, the well-known Švandovo divadlo has a varied repertoire and even features English subtitles for many of it’s performances; the Národní dům Smíchov is sometimes used as a concert venue. Located on Ke Sklárně, MeetFactory is a unique center for underground art, music, theater, film, and more.. Smíchov also caters to jazz lovers – Jazz Dock stands out as a modern music venue by the Vltava.

Jazz Dock at Janáčkovo nábřeží
Jazz Dock at Janáčkovo nábřeží

Shopping and services
When it comes to retail, Smíchov is an interesting mix of old and new. The neighborhood became firmly established as a shopping mecca at the beginning of the new millennium, when the Nový Smíchov and Zlatý Anděl developments were completed, and the neighborhood buzzes with shoppers at weekends.

The Nový Smíchov mall is one of Prague’s largest, stretching over three floors. It has a wide variety of stores, and a suitably expansive Tesco supermarket on the first (ground) floor. Opposite is the Zlatý Anděl building, whose first floor is home to a variety of stores and an Albert supermarket.

Despite the impact of globalized retail on Smíchov, a reasonable number of independent outlets survive, particularly along Štefánikova.

Karpatský chrám sv. archanděla Michaela in Kinský Garden
Karpatský chrám sv. archanděla Michaela in Kinský Garden

Eating out
Twenty years ago it would have been hard to imagine steak restaurants or even a plethora of pizzerias in Smíchov, but the dining experience in the neighborhood has become increasingly eclectic, reflecting its transformation into a leisure-oriented district. As a result, diners have a wide range of well-priced options to choose from.

One of the main concentrations of eateries is around Anděl metro station, especially along Nádražní opposite the Zlaté Anděl building, which is home to a branch of the long-established Prague Italian restaurant chain, Pizzeria Colosseum. The section of Nádražní at Anděl has become a favorite summer favorite spot for diners, thanks to outdoor and courtyard seating. They can choose from several establishments including Pizzerie Corte del Angelo and the Anděl Plzeňský Restaurant, both with attractive courtyards, and TGI Fridays. The habit of giving Anděl a Latin-sounding name continues at El Barrio de Ángel, which specializes in Argentinian steak and was rated the best steak restaurant in Brewsta’s Steaks review. More steak is on offer, this time in an ambience that Fred Flintstone might feel at home in, at Pravěk, where the theme is everything primeval.

If you need to eat quickly, you might want to consider the food courts at the Nový Smíchov mall, which offers a bit more variety than the usual fast food possibilities. If you’re not in a rush and just looking for something traditional and Czech, U Dělového kříže, which serves pub classics like topinky and goulash, should do it. A more contemporary take on Czech pub food is served at the Restaurace Na verandách restaurant, which is part of the Staropramen brewery.

Cafés in the neighborhood include the President Caffé, housed in the Villa Portheimka, and Kava Kava Kava.

Healthcare
As elsewhere, doctors and dentists surgeries’ throughout the neighborhood, and Smíchov is within easy reach of two of Prague’s major hospitals, Motol and Na Homolce. Both are public, and the latter has a department specifically for non-Czechs, although there are English-speaking staff at Motol too. Smíchov is also relatively close to the Podolí maternity hospital, on the opposite bank of the River Vltava.

SUMMARY

Strengths
•    Excellent location close to the center
•    Improved housing stock and villa quarter
•    Excellent public transport links
•    Attractive green spaces
•    Increasingly diversified shopping
•    Good range of reasonably-priced restaurants
•    Good range of sports facilities

Weaknesses
•    Property becoming expensive
•    Noise and traffic fumes is an issue on main roads
•    Lack of off-street parking
•    Not very child-friendly neighborhood.
•    Distance from English international schools
•    Limited range of cultural and entertainment facilities


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