Dejvice – Magnificent Architecture with a Touch of Nature
Dejvice is a residential neighbourhood just outside the city centre. Its direct contact with natural areas, such as Stromovka Park and the Šárka valley, enhances its attractiveness. Although Dejvice lies within sight of the tourist-thronged Prague Castle, it manages to maintain an authentic face, created during the interwar period by the monumental buildings around Vítězné (Victory) Square and two enclaves of luxurious pre-war villas – Hanspaulka and Baba.
The story of contemporary Dejvice originates in the 1920s. Architect Antonin Engel proposed a large-scale urban concept featuring a massive central square shaped like a rough horseshoe into which wide avenues and boulevards converged radially. Because of the large roundabout in the middle of the square, Praguers don’t call it anything else but “Kulaťák” (Roundie). This extraordinary construction project, in many ways ahead of its time, was unfortunately hampered by the economic crisis in the 1930s and then interrupted by World War II.
Although the original plan of Victory Square and the surrounding area was never fully completed, a perceptive observer will still be surprised by the monumentality and timelessness of Engel’s architectural concept. Undeveloped plots of land are now firmly in developers’ sights, and hopefully one day we will see tasteful buildings designed with respect for the appearance of Dejvice’s heart. The existing apartment buildings around the square, built in Neoclassical style, currently mainly serve the Army of the Czech Republic.
Another positive aspect of the area is the large campus of the technical universities (between Evropská and Jugoslavských partyzánů Streets), which makes Dejvice a relaxed student district full of cafés, clubs, and pubs. It’s impossible to overlook the modern building of the National Technical Library sitting in the middle of the campus, with its softly rounded glass façade and playful interior. Built in 2009 in the shape of an “oval square”, the six-storey building has been a significant catalyst in reviving the surrounding area and has been positively received by both students and residents. It is also the winner of several prestigious architectural awards. When gazing at this public building’s “liberal” curves, one cannot resist comparing it to the nearby symbol of Soviet socialist realism - the Hotel International. Built during the dark 1950s, the perpetually controversial hulking monstrosity, popularly known as the “Stalin Cake”, was and remains a revealing reminder of former grim times.
As mentioned in the introduction, the character of Dejvice has also been significantly shaped by two unique areas built during the interwar period on the northwest edge of the emerging district. Hanspaulka and Baba are living textbooks of modern architecture, showcasing Functionalist villa in all its forms. A stroll through the neighbourhood streets will whisk you away into the posh times of the First Republic (1918-1938) and the lifestyles of Prague’s elite. Dejvice can truly boast a perfect cross-section of the architecture of the last hundred years.
Once you’ve had your fill of architectural gems, head to one of the city’s most beautiful natural sites – the Šárka Valley, just a stone’s throw from Hanspaulka and Baba. With a visually appealing landscape of rocky cliffs, plateaus, groves, meadows, and pastures, it’s a popular sports and relaxation destination for tourists and locals alike. If you prefer a more park-like environment, check out the charm of the Royal Game Reserve – or Stromovka – at the opposite end of Dejvice. Recently revitalised, the largest park in Prague is a beautiful green oasis amid the noisy metropolis.
Hus Congregational House (Husův sbor)
Wuchterlova 535/5, Prague 6 – Dejvice / www.dejvickysbor-ccsh.cz
This unusual monument, built in the 1920s, is a ten-storey high building with a tower and ornate façade set into a row of apartment buildings. What’s interesting is that the church itself is located in the inner courtyard. A water cascade with three bronze statues of horses enhances the square in front of the building.
Vlasta Burian Villa
Kadeřávkovská 13, Prague 6 – Dejvice
The opulent villa belonged to the king of Czech comedy and megastar actor from 1937 until the 1950s, when the government confiscated it. The property has a large garden with a tennis court, a swimming pool, a gym, and a shooting range. Today the property is privately owned and not open to the public, yet the outside view also tells about Vlasta Burian's style. There’s a memorial plaque dedicated to the famous actor on the outer wall of the house.
Church of St Matthew
U Matěje, Prague 6 – Dejvice / www.matejstranti.com
This late Baroque sacred monument valuable for the artistic quality of its interior furnishings is a significant landscape dominant. From the church, there is a beautiful view of the Šárka valley. The church services are held every Wednesday (6 p.m.), Thursday (6 p.m.) and Sunday (8 a.m. and 10 a.m.), otherwise please contact the parish office to arrange your visit of the church.
Nikola Tesla Monument
Nikoly Tesly St., Prague 6 – Dejvice / www.prague.eu
The post-modern bronze monument is a tribute to this genius scientist, physicist, and inventor who studied in Prague for one semester. The statue portrays an electrical discharge, and its author is sculptor Stefan Milkov.
For Coffee, Lunch, or Dinner:
Eliášova 1 / www.cafezahorsky.cz
Busy café, bistro, and bakery in Dejvice, a favourite of locals and students from the local universities. It’s known for its homemade cakes, served by their baker. The large sliding windows with seating on the parapets is a delightful interior element that visitors will appreciate especially in summer when you can watch the bustle in adjacent Dejvická Street.
Vítězné náměstí square12 / www.kulatak.cz
The tenth Pilsner Urquell Original Restaurant in Prague and the only branch in Dejvice. The extensive menu offers traditional Czech meals, snacks, and beer, as well as a selection of modern dishes. In the rear, there is a winter garden, an inviting space with a glass wall and ceiling. From the winter garden, there's a small courtyard with a playground and a climbing wall.
U Cedru Restaurant
Národní obrany 27 / www.ucedru.cz
One of the first Lebanese restaurants in Prague, open to all who love fresh Mediterranean cuisine. At this cosy and clean family business you can enjoy exotic dishes both indoors and in the small but pleasant garden during the summer. They have a wide selection of mezze and steaks, as well as other meat and fish dishes.
Dejvická 2 / www.sokolovna.cz
Newly renovated, this traditional and popular Czech restaurant is authentic and unpretentious. The menu features classic Czech cuisine and offers two types of high-quality tank beer.
Wuchterlova 10 / www.prasad.cz/praha
Restaurant with a variety of fresh salads, vegetarian and vegan dishes, fresh juices, smoothies, and raw desserts – in short, foods that have positive effects on health. Prašád is an ideal haven, a place to recharge your energy, release stress, or just sit and enjoy the pleasant environment.
U Matěje 1 / www.umateje1.cz
The restaurant of the acclaimed Czech chef Jan Punčochář focuses on traditional yet unusually served Czech cuisine; the emphasis is put on sauces and meat. Taste smoked meat and season specialities and splash them with renowned wines or Pilsen beer.
Bubenečská 12 / www.mistoprovas.cz
Few cafés in Prague offer such complete service as Místo – premium coffee, a spacious interior, and cooked breakfasts and weekend brunches as well as dinner. In addition to espresso and filter coffee, there’s a permanent menu featuring innovative seasonal cocktails. At Místo, you can also stop by for just a glass of wine or a beer.
How to Get There
Train: station Praha - Dejvice
Metro: Line A, Hradčanská or Dejvická stations
Tram: 8, 18, 20, 91 – Vítězné náměstí stop
Author: Jan Pomykal - Web Content and Publishing Department