Žižkov is one of the most picturesque and striking parts of Prague. From the outset, it was intended to be a neighbourhood of tenements rented by those moving to the Czech capital in search of work. The neighbourhood grew rapidly during industrial development in the second half of the 19th century. In contrast to adjoining Vinohrady, which has broad avenues and a regular gridiron plan, the streets of Žižkov are narrow and have an irregular layout. Although the flats are mostly small and poorly lit, they are housed in buildings with facades inspired by Italian Renaissance and Baroque palaces. The apartment blocks stand on steep slopes, also giving the quarter a unique character, which is sometimes compared to that of the Montmartre district of Paris.
The name “Žižkov” is linked to the famous Hussite General Jan Žižka of Trocnov, a fearless military leader who stood invincible against any army. Such a name is therefore very appropriate, given the rebellious atmosphere that has been associated with the working-class area for most of its existence. The provocative spirit of Žižkov remained during the communist period, which is probably why this part of Prague was the first to be earmarked for wholesale demolition. Sadly, today, in place of the oldest part, gleaming uniform prefabricated blocks of flats now stand, giving an idea of the sad fate awaiting Žižkov were it not for the Velvet Revolution of 1989. After that, Žižkov became one of Prague’s liveliest districts, acquiring a reputation for an unbelievable number of bars and pubs. Thankfully, the free, easy-going spirit of the “Žižkov Republic”, as it used to be known during the interwar period because of its particular character, lives on today in many places.
Most important sights:
Architecturally, all of Žižkov is worth seeing, but to get the best panorama of the neighbourhood, visit the Nátional Memorial on the summit of Vítkov Hill. Dating from the 1930s, the structure is a memorial to the Czechoslovak Republic and is characterised by exceptional monumentality emphasised by the world’s largest equestrian statue.
The pubs are some of the most important cultural institutions in Žižkov and give the area its atmosphere and character. The most notable is undoubtedly U Vystřelenýho oka (The Shot-Out Eye), adorned with paintings by outstanding artist Martin Velíšek.