Graffiti after Communism: Alternative Prague

My hostel had a poster for Alternative Prague Walking Tours and I was immediately interested.  I did an Alternative Tour in Berlin and enjoyed it a lot. I’ve also gone on some spooky tours in Barcelona and London.   I had already spent a little bit of time in Prague for New Year’s and exploring the castles and synagogues.  So I wanted to see another city to this gorgeous city.

We met at Powder Tower on a snowy morning.  Everyone was so cold but also very motivated.  I have literally never been so cold in my entire life.  But I just pushed through the pain because I only had two more days in Prague.  (I was going to Kutna Hora the next day but I caught a bug and had to stay in bed all day).

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The first place we went was a place I probably passed a few times called Tuzeks.  From the outside, it doesn’t look very significant but it’s a relic from communism. The antique shop is where the elite of Prague could buy luxury items like glass fish, cassette tapes and jeans.  Glass fish were a special collector’s item in Prague at the time.  It was one of the few things people could own that was “lavish.” There was a whole underbelly of black market items outlawed under communism and much those legal and illegal trade happened ran through shops like this.

Then we went into a little restaurant/ bar/ art gallery called NoD.  It’s a two story building, upstairs there’s the bar and gallery. They have a lounge with art films playing then another room with different art pieces on display. Our leader told us a story. Once NoD invited homeless people to live in the art gallery for a month.  They provided them food and shelter in exchange for them to talk to guests.  The project ended up helping everyone.  People were able to see the homeless as humans and hearing their stories inspired them to help.  People began bringing gift and clothes and offering them jobs and places to stay.  Then by telling their own stories the homeless were able to reevaluate their lives.  Most of them were able to stay off the street after that.

One other interesting thing about the bar is they have a giant bone above it.  Bones are considered bad luck in Prague and merely having it on display was very controversial to the community.  However the bar kept it up and it’s now part of their signature look.

Something I didn’t realize is that there was no religion in communism. After communism there still wasn’t a want for religion in their society.  So now they have all these grand churches and their mostly used for events or charities not for prayer.

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Next we went to a bridge with a lot of street art.  Our tour guide is actually one of the artists on the bridge.

Anonymous has their headquarters at Paralelni Polis.  You can only use bit coins.  They have workshops, 3D printers, a Q&A once a month.  Yes, the government has raided the building before but they have way to clear all the servers.  They have a room full of 3-D printers for public use.

 

We also went by another art gallery.  This one was dedicated to Vaclav Havel, a famous writer in Prague.  The airport is even named after him.  He was known for dissent during communism in Czechosslovakia and became the president of the Czech Republic from 1993-2003.  He is still regarded as a hero for leading the country out of communism.

Then the last we went was Cross Bar; it’s an artist, anarchist collective with a recording studio, art studios, a restaurant and more. It’s a really cool Steam Punk theme.  I had gone earlier and listened to a fun Balkan band and EDM DJ.  I had never heard Balkan music and now I’m kind of in to it thanks to Cross Club.

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I really loved this tour.  My guide was so knowledgeable and very pleasant to talk to.  It was great to get a historical perspective on Czech culture and history.  She also mentioned she made a film about females in graffiti and street art.  So check that out if you are interested.

6 thoughts on “Graffiti after Communism: Alternative Prague

  1. I’m putting together my itinerary for Prague and this tour sounds really interesting, would you recommend it? I know we’ll get the standard historical information from the castle etc, but this sounds like a really different take on the city!

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    1. I highly recommend it. My guide was amazing. The castle gives a very old history but the Alternative Tour gives more modern history after World War Two and the transition during the Velvet Revolution. It´s much more interesting than the ancient history in my opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

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