Prague Districts: Holešovice – part II.

Prague Districts: Holešovice – part II.

Note: click here for Holešovice – part I.

Families and children
Holešovice is not a particularly child-friendly environment due to a complete absence of houses with gardens, as well as very busy main thoroughfares, traffic noise, and dusty streets. Apart from the small fenced park at the corner of Jateční and Komunardů, there are few play areas.

On the other hand, the western sector contains a number of Prague attractions popular with children. The long-running St. Matthew´s Fair (Matějská pout´) is held at Výstaviště each year in the run-up to and after Easter (see “St Matthew´s Fair” article). Výstaviště is also home to the Mořský svět aquarium, which is guaranteed to arouse interest given that Prague is far from the ocean. Immediately adjacent to Výstaviště and extending westwards to Bubeneč is the vast Stromovka Park, originally a royal hunting ground. It´s been a favorite spot of Prague families (and more recently the city´s inline skaters and runners) for generations, and the many attractions enjoyed there including sledding in winter.

Local authority provision for children includes a children´s center (Dům dětí a mládeže Praha 7), run by Prague City Council, one of several such centers in Prague (see “Karlín – Part 1” article). It´s open to expat children who speak Czech.

Education
There are no English-speaking international schools in Holešovice, although the privately funded Österreichischen Gymnasium Prag (high school) provides instruction mainly in German. In terms of Czech publicly funded education, the local authorities run nine nursery schools, seven elementary schools and three high schools in Holešovice. At the university level, the Academy of Fine Arts (Akademie výtvarných umění) is based in the neighborhood. For full information about all educational provision in the neighborhood, see the Prague 7 Borough website.


Gallery at Academy of Fine Arts

Sport and leisure
Although Holešovice boasts a huge sports complex, run by the Ministry of Interior and tucked away in a corner of Stromovka Park, it´s used for training the country´s leading sportsmen and women and therefore closed to the public. However, there are a number of privately-run sports and leisure facilities in Holešovice, including a small swimming pool at Výstaviště and a number of fitness centers, from small, basic establishments to the smarter Olga Šípková center. Squash is very popular in Prague, and Squash Holešovice also offers table tennis. Other sports and leisure facilities include a climbing wall at Lezecké centrum Mammut Holešovice and ten pin bowling and other games at Absolutní bowling.

Entertainment and culture
Although Holešovice has long been synonymous with industry, the neighborhood, particularly around Dukelských Hrdinů, is also an important center for culture and leisure. Anyone interested in art should not miss the Trade Fair Palace (Veletržní pálac), part of the National Gallery. The gallery is home to a collection of 19th and 20th-century Czech art, and the building´s architecture and interiors are equally noteworthy. On the other side of Holešovice, the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art is a more recent addition to the cultural scene but has rapidly become an important arts venue in the capital. From the Trade Fair building it´s a short hop to the newly renovated art house Bio Oko cinema, which has survived the multiplex invasion, and retains its refreshingly retro character. The cinema regularly screens films in English. The Alfréd ve dvoře Theatre, also close to the Trade Fair Palace, is noted for its contemporary focus and project-based rather than repertory program; many of their projects are of the English-friendly “performance art” variety. Kulturní dům Vltavská is another key player in the local cultural scene and a center for concerts, exhibitions, film and theatre among others. It was also a Designblok festival venue in 2010. A short distance away, the Metropolitní divadlo, located in the Holešovice Markets complex (see below) stages concerts and musicals, as well as classical theatre. Bear in mind that events at the last two venues above are staged mainly in Czech.

At the northern end of Dukelských Hrdinů is another cluster of important attractions, notably the Exhibition Grounds or Výstaviště, one Prague´s major exhibition venues. The steel and glass clock tower of the Průmyslový palác is a well-known feature of the Prague skyline and the building is the focal point of the complex. Part of the building was destroyed by fire in 2008, although the burnt-out wing was replaced by a temporary structure and the exhibition organizers continue to operate a full programme. Výstaviště is also famous for the Křižík fountain (Křižíkova fontána), the centerpiece of a son-et-lumičre show in the spring and summer. Adjacent to Výstaviště is the communist-era Paegas arena, a large, if rather old-fashioned, concert venue. Big name bands such as The Cure have played here, and the arena also doubles as a sports venue and the home of Sparta ice hockey club.


Křižík fountain

Shopping and services
Holešovice has a particular significance for Prague shoppers because of the huge market complex on its southern edge. Otherwise, the district is characterized by a mix of mainly small, local stores and a growing number of new outlets, including upscale furniture shops. The main shopping thoroughfares are Dělnická, Dukelských Hrdinů, Milady Horákové, Komunardů and Veletržní. All the main banks have branches on these streets.

If you´re looking for supermarkets you´ll find Albert stores at Schnirchova and U průhonů, and Billa outlets at Dělnická and Letenské náměstí. There are currently no malls or hypermarkets in Holešovice.

The sprawling River Town, also known as Holešovice Markets (Holešovická tržnice), is a Prague institution, evidenced by the constant throng of shoppers at the adjacent tram stop. The markets were once Prague´s main slaughterhouses, but today the rows of long brick barracks are home to the capital´s largest fruit and vegetable market, and a regular farmers´ market (indoors in winter). The buildings also house shops such as Alza.cz (see below), Penny Market and Schlecker. Individual traders sell from numerous kiosks around the complex, which also includes restaurants and the Metropolitní divadlo.


Holešovice is also worth visiting if you´re looking for household goods, particularly electrical and electronic items, and upscale furniture. Mironet and Alza are two of the Czech Republic´s most well-known online sellers of electrical and electronic goods, particularly computers. Both firms also have shops in the neighborhood. Like Karlín, Holešovice is also emerging as a place to buy high-end furniture as the quarter establishes itself as an artistic and cultural zone and furniture shops such as Konsepti and Avenue Design have moved in. Interestingly, the former is located immediately opposite a symbol of the “old” Holešovice, a bric a brac shop whose windows are packed full of every possible item.

Eating out
Another noticeable similarity between Karlín and Holešovice is the ongoing improvement of the restaurant scene in the neighborhood and the increasingly wide choice of eateries.

If you´re hankering after dumplings and tradition in Holešovice, you can satisfy your cravings at U Houbařů on Dukelských hrdinů, or at modern versions of it, such as Dobrá sešlost, formerly Jihočeská Restaurace, at the northern end of the same street. For something more cosmopolitan, La Crêperie, as its name suggests, serves everything pancake-related, and a cluster of pizzerias are located on Milady Horákové. Baterka, on the western edge of Holešovice offers a more general menu, and if you want to dine in ultra-minimalist surroundings, try Molo 22.

New additions to the restaurant range in the neighborhood include two familiar establishments to expats, Potrefená husa and Bohemia Bagel. The Potrefená husa chain is expanding all the time and the restaurants serves decent pub food with a modern twist; the latter is a burger bar and quite different from the backpacker mecca in the Old Town. Vozovna restaurant, in the heart of Stromovka, is another newcomer, serving a variety of affordable dishes in smart new building.

Holešovice scores quite well on the café front. Long-term expats will recognize Kavárna Ouky Douky, whose previous incarnation was The Globe Bookstore before it relocated to Prague 1. Ouky Douky retains much of the atmosphere of its predecessor and sells English-language newspapers. A short walk away is the cozy, disparate Kavárna Kumbal, one of a growing number of Prague cafes with a cosmopolitan menu and a quirky, distinctive atmosphere. If you prefer tea to coffee, the Čajovna U kostela teahouse, just off Strossmayerovo náměstí, has a wide variety of blends.

Healthcare
In terms of healthcare, there are no hospitals or health centers in Holešovice, although doctors and dentists surgeries can be found in the neighborhood. The nearest public hospital is at Bulovka, further north in Prague 8.

SUMMARY

Strengths
·    Excellent location near the center
·    Excellent public transport links
·    Good access to Stromovka, Výstaviště and Letná
·    Good location for professionals and couples without children
·    Increasingly diversified shopping
·    Good range of reasonably-priced restaurants
·    Good range of cultural and entertainment facilities

Weaknesses
·    Pollution/noise pollution is a problem
·    Heavy traffic
·    Lack of off-street parking
·    Eastern part of Holešovice is cut off from western part by busy roads
·    Not a very child-friendly neighborhood.
·    Distance from international schools
·    Range of sports facilities could be better


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