The Café Slavia (Kavárna Slavia) is the most famous coffee shop in the Czech Republic and has become one of the symbols of Prague: of the city’s tempestuous history, rich intellectual life and local lifestyle. Standing opposite the National Theatre, the café is, however, also a symbol of how the Czechs think of themselves as a nation, and how they see each other. One of the best views of the city comes as a bonus with your cup of coffee. From the large windows, wide panoramas unfold of Prague Castle, which stretches out over the city, above the roofs of the Lesser Town, with their warm colours, and Charles Bridge, the River Vltava and the National Theatre… Thus, visitors almost forget have a good look around the Functionalist interior, an elegantly designed space with discrete Art Deco style wall decorations. Waitstaff dress formally, in line with tradition. And you’ll find a similarly old-school approach at the cloakroom right by the entrance. Essentially, the Slavia is all about continuity. Established in 1884, the café owes its existence to the nearby National Theatre, which opened just a few years before the Slavia. Theatregoers regularly pay a visit during intervals, as do actors after rehearsals or performances. Like the National Theatre, the café gradually became a symbol of the Czech National Revival of the 19th century. It’s also no coincidence that the establishment was named after Slavia, the mythical goddess of all Slavs.Even during the darkest days of the Normalisation period, intellectuals and artists didn’t stop visiting. Regular guests included the poets Jiří Kolář and Jaroslav Seifert, the symbolist painter Jan Zrzavý, and actors and playwrights, including Václav Havel.
The pleasant tones of a piano add to the atmosphere of Café Slavia. If you have the courage, ask the pianist for a song. He or she will be happy to oblige.