Written by Melissa Deerson
When the craving for a bargain begins, it´s time to head off to one of Prague´s many markets for a browse, a wander, and a cheap fix.
The following overview should give you a good idea of what some of the city's larger markets have to offer:
Pražská tržnice - Prague market Holešovice
Bubenské nábřezi, Prague 7
Metro: Vltavská (line C)
Open: Mon-Fri 8:00-18:00; Sat 8:00-13:00
(Turn left out of the Vltavská metro station and walk along Bubenské nábřeží by the river, until you come to the big walled complex - you can´t miss it.)
Everyone is familiar with the ubiquitous ‘Bankrot´ and ‘Krach´ variety shops dotted around Prague. Well, think of the biggest, most labyrinthine Bankrot you can imagine, and you´ve got fair warning about what to expect at Prague Market. Dozens and dozens of stalls await, selling, amongst other things, cheap clothes, underwear, electronics, statues and ornaments (usually with lewd overtones), watches and wallets. Additionally, many stores seem to specialise in personal weaponry and cigarette accessories, so if you´re looking for the perfect flick-knife with optional novelty lighter attachment, this is the place for you. Once you´ve run the gauntlet of over-zealous sellers in this main section, you can have a more leisurely peruse of the fruit and vegetable market, discount supermarket, and the cheap eateries. One of the best parts of the market is the collection of antique shops with an amazing selection of pieces; when I visited, one was selling a 1950´s dentist chair, complete with spit-basin and drill, as well what no Czech flat can do without - a huge wrought-iron gazebo.
FOR THE FURNITURE BUFF
Nábytek Bazar - Furniture Bazaar
Below Libeňský Most, Prague 8
Metro: Palmovka (line B)
Open: varied hours for each trader
(Trams stop on the bridge, or you can walk from Metro Palmovka towards the river and take the left ramp off the bridge down to the warehouses)
Having a fairly entrenched personal aversion to furniture shops, it is a testament to this market that I ended up carting home a strange, sputnik-style table (a steal at 250CZK) and a set of antique spoons after my exploration. The surroundings are almost reason enough for a visit - technically more a collection of privately run stores or warehouses than a market, it´s a set of huge, dilapidated sheds in a practically deserted industrial area by the river, and the atmosphere on a cold winter day is impressively eerie. You can find new and second-hand furniture, beds, lamps, tables, chairs, bookshelves, and even the occasional sewing machine, as well as antiques. The prices are reasonable, and many of the traders aren´t averse to a spot of bargaining. Oddly enough, there´s also what seems to be a dog-supply warehouse full of bulk dog-food, toys etc, so you can stock up for your canine friends while you´re there.
FOR LOCAL CHARM
Tržnice Pankrác - Pankrác Market
Na Pankráci, Prague 4
Metro: Pankrác (line C)
Open: Mon to Fri 8:00 - 18:00; Sat 8:00 - 13:00
(It´s just outside Pankrác metro - just look for the sign)
For a small market with a friendlier feel, Pankrác market is the way to go. It´s a practical, compact little place, full of cheap clothes, socks and underwear, some good shoes, the standard nightclothes and manchester, electronic goods, as well as a bakery and fruit and vegetable stall. The most interesting part is the chaotic second-hand clothes shop hidden up the back of the market, which during my visit surrendered such retro gems as a pair of sky-blue Adidas men´s short-shorts, an 80s black velvet strapless dress replete with large purple bow, and a number of decent tees and Marks & Spencer shirts.
FOR A FLYING VISIT
Tržnice Hradčanská - Hradčanská Market
Milady Horákové, Prague 6
Metro: Hradčanská (line A)
(Go out of Hradčanská Metro and it´s directly opposite over the road.)
Hradčanská market is another small market, but with more of an emphasis on the knuckle-duster and cigarette lighter end of things, as well as the usual assortment of clothes, underwear, wallets and such. There are a couple of fairly good fruit and vegetable stands, and the little bar at the entrance is a picture of gritty unpretentiousness, frequented by tough-looking characters toting their morning beers. Although not exactly bursting with charm and atmosphere, it can be worth popping into when you´re going through Hradčanská metro station to see if anything catches your eye.
FOR FLEA-MARKET FANCIERS
Bleší trh - Flea Market
Kolbenova, Prague 9
Metro: Kolbenova (line B)
Open: Sat 07:00 - 14:00
(From the Metro, turn right into Kolbenova street, cross to the other side of the road, and it´s about 100m along)
Anyone with a penchant for pre-loved items, quirky finds and general odds-and-ends will feel like all their Christmases have come at once when they visit this market. Although it opens and closes early, it´s worth dragging yourself out of bed at an unreasonably early hour on a Saturday morning to take advantage of the huge number of stalls selling practically everything you could imagine, from car-parts and electronics to antique tea-sets and musical instruments. Row after row of stands offer trash, treasure, and everything in between, often at amazingly cheap prices; a brief visit yielded such varied purchases as a shoe-horn, an antique necklace, a pair of nose-hair clippers, some second-hand books, and an old Russian model plane. The food stall at the entrance does great pizzas and has cheap beer too, so take some time out for refreshments and enjoy watching your fellow shoppers at work.