Old Town Souvenir Shopping, Prague

Old Town Souvenir Shopping (Self Guided), Prague

It would be a pity to leave Prague without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Prague, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.
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Old Town Souvenir Shopping Map

Guide Name: Old Town Souvenir Shopping
Guide Location: Czech Republic » Prague (See other walking tours in Prague)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Author: Daniel
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Obecni dum (Municipal house)
  • Kubista
  • Pohadka
  • Botanicus
  • Old Town Square Market
  • Bohemia Paper
  • Absintherie
  • Havelska Street and Market
Obecni dum (Municipal house)

1) Obecni dum (Municipal house)

At the turn of the 20th century, the city fathers of Prague summoned all the countryʼs best architects and artists to the capital to help create a monumental municipal center. Built over seven years, Obecní dům (Municipal house) is now one of the most beautiful buildings in the Czech Republic, a lavishly decorated art nouveau palace that houses a 2,000-seat concert hall, salons, offices and restaurants, and features stunning decorative work throughout.

Two shops in the complex offer high-quality collectibles. The gift shop at the rear of the ground floor (to the left of the grand staircase) offers a lovely collection of jewelry – pins, necklaces and rings done in sumptuous art nouveau motifs. Eye-catching and original, they come in a variety of styles, colors and prices.

2) Kubista

In every other country in the world, cubism was a style of painting. In Czech Republic, it went far beyond that, providing inspiration for architects and designers who adapted its principles to create everything from signature buildings to distinctive kitchenware. Tourists and architecture buffs come from around the world to see sights like the cubist lamppost on Jungmannovo náměstí and the House of the Black Madonna in Old Town, which houses the Museum of Czech Cubism.

Attached to the museum is Kubista, an upscale gift shop that allows you to take a classy piece of cubist design home with you. The selection ranges from large lamps and chandeliers to small picture frames, but the gems of the collection are the everyday items like cup and saucer sets, ceramic and porcelain boxes, glassware and vases. Done in bold patterns and striking shapes, they are both stylish and functional. Even among museum shops, Kubista is unique, an organic extension of an historic art movement. Individual pieces start at 395 crowns, sets at 1,495 crowns.
Image Courtesy of Frank Kuznik Jr.

3) Pohadka

Puppet-making is more than a pastime in the Czech Republic. Itʼs a craft that dates back to the Middle Ages, first making a recorded appearance around the time of the Thirty Yearsʼ War. Czech puppeteers toured Europe in the 18th century, while at home puppet theater become a highly evolved art form, often with a political subtext during the turmoil of the 20th century.

The National Marionette Theater in Prague stages a puppet production of Mozartʼs Don Giovanni that has been packing in crowds of tourists for years. What all this means for visitors is an astonishing variety of marionettes that make great gifts for kids, from small kitchen witches to whopping winged three-headed dragons.

You will find one of the best selections at Pohádka in Old Town, which is not shy about attracting the tourist trade – there are plenty of commercial marionette characters like Popeye, Charlie Chaplain and the popular Czech icon Good Soldier Švejk. But alongside those are a charming selection of devils, angels, princesses and brides, dwarves, sprites and other fairy-tale characters in sizes well-suited for small hands. Prices vary by size, starting at 295 crowns for small figures and up to 4,995 for large ones.
Image Courtesy of Frank Kuznik Jr.

4) Botanicus

Botanicus is a rarity in the Czech Republic, a company that puts traditional material and practices to use to create refreshingly modern products. Founded in 1992 along the lines of an old-fashioned apothecary, Botanicus maintains large organic gardens where it grows a variety of herbs, fruits and vegetables that are used to make natural cosmetics and body care products. No less a personage than Prince Charles visited the Botanicus gardens when he toured the Czech Republic in 2002, where he talked organic farming and planted two trees.

The centerpiece of the Botanicus product line is Bohemian lavender, a combination of strains selected and developed to thrive in local climactic conditions and yield a fragrant aromatic oil. On the shelves in the store you will find lavender lotion, oils, skin cream and shower gel, among other products. And if lavender isnʼt your favorite, just follow your nose to the dozens of other creams, oils, soap, candles and fragrances.

Located at Týn 3 in the Ungelt courtyard in Old Town, open daily 10:00 - 18:30. Individual items start at 125 crowns, gift packages at 350 crowns.
Image Courtesy of Frank Kuznik Jr.
Old Town Square Market

5) Old Town Square Market

This market in Prague's famous Old Town Square usually attracts tourists. The place sells different souvenirs, such as wooden toys, porcelain objects of landmarks of Prague, ceramics, crystal and glass items for which Bohemian lands are well known all over the world. Aside from the permanent market, there are also the seasonal Christmas and Easter Markets.
Bohemia Paper

6) Bohemia Paper

This unobtrusive shop tucked in a corner of Kinsky Palace on the east side of Old Town Square is where Czech President Václav Klaus orders his personal stationery, invitations and greeting cards. When you walk in, you will immediately know why. Bohemia Paper embodies a long history of paper making, engraving and bookbinding in the Czech Republic, revived in 1991 by master printer Jan Petr Obr.

Drawing on an extensive library of historic engravings, antique maps, botanical drawings and art nouveau designs, Orb has produced a handsome line of stationery, announcement and greeting cards and other specialized paper products. Many of the cards are hand-colored, and the engraving, embossing and letterpress printing techniques are exquisite. You will find a richly detailed collection of cards, stationery and gift box sets on display. Or if you are feeling really extravagant, one of the accommodating staff will help you order personalized correspondence paper, business cards, invitations or announcements.

Located at Staroměstské náměstí 12, open Monday - Friday: 10:00 - 18:00; Saturday, Sunday: 11:00 - 18:00.
Image Courtesy of Frank Kuznik Jr.

7) Absintherie

Banned throughout much of the Western world for decades, absinthe never fell out of favor or legal production in the Czech Republic, where it has been manufactured and sold for almost 150 years. In fact, some reviewers date the modern revival of interest in absinthe to 1989, when the Velvet Revolution opened the country to Western tourists who were free to sample the spiritʼs intoxicating effects.

Long considered the preferred choice (and inspiration) of painters, writers and the artistic demimonde, absinthe is now commonly available in almost every liquor store, potraviny (grocery store) and supermarket in Prague, sprawled across the shelves in a dizzying array of varieties and colors. Generally speaking, the brighter the color, the lower the quality – you definitely donʼt want anything that looks like red or green antifreeze. Top of the line, and the most expensive, is King of Spirits, made in Prádlo, a small village in west Bohemia.

A good place to sample some of the better varieties is the Absintherie, where you will also find a vintage collection of bottled absinthe and, for the really daring, mixed drinks like an absinthe martini. Located at Jilská 7, open daily 12:00 - 00:00. Prices for a good bottle of absinthe range from 695 – 1,495 crowns.
Havelska Street and Market

8) Havelska Street and Market

The only preserved marketplace in the Old Town, Havelské Market dates back to 1232 and is just a small remnant of the once large medieval market that used to cover the space currently occupied by Ovocný Trh (“Fruit Market”), teeming with furriers, drapers and other craftsmen's shops, and extending all the way to Rytířská Street which runs parallel to the current Havelská Street.

Back in the 15th century, part of the street was known as Tandlmark, or Tarmark, referring to the second-hand wares sold there at the time. In the first half of the 18th century, one half of the street was called Uhelný trh (Coal Market) while the other half – the Green market because of the vegetables and flowers sold there. The name “Havelská Street” was officially coined in 1870. It derived from the nearby St. Gallen (Havel) Church (kostel Svatého Havla), which back in the day was one of the four main parishes in the Old City and the home of the Hussite movement.

As for the street itself, running for some 250 meters, it came into being in the 13th century around the same time as St Gall’s (Havel's) Quarter, an important part of the Old Town, was established. Most of the houses with arcades that once lined the quarter’s northern side have been rebuilt now, although some of them – those in the section between Melantrichova Street and Uhelný trh – still retain their original form.

Presently, Havelské market lies on the pedestrian route between Wenceslas Square and Old Town Square, just a few minutes walk from either of the two, and is rightfully regarded the most photogenic in Prague. Open daily, it offers a selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, and on weekends – mainly tourist items of all kinds. The market also sells flowers, arts and crafts, leather goods, wooden toys, ceramics and other authentic souvenirs. While the shops on either side of the street sell ordinary souvenirs, the market stalls are well worth a quick browse for an original gift, such as fresh honey or sweets.

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