Forget the Megaplexes

Julie Fishman on Prague's independent cinemas Staff

Written by Staff Published on 11.04.2007 12:48:07 (updated on 11.04.2007) Reading time: 3 minutes

Written by Julie Fishman

While I love the comfy seats and Dolby sound systems of the big chain cinemas, one of the beauties of living in Prague is the choice of old cinemas. While this list isn´t complete, it touches on most of the non-chain kinos in town. Keep in mind that aside from the atmosphere some of the cinemas have to offer, at most places the admission is around 100 CZK or less.

Kino Lucerna ( is the “grande dame” of them all; having opened in 1909, it is the oldest continually running cinema in Europe and still full of charm. They show Czech films, often host festivals, and first run foreign films show up about a month or so after their wide release. If you want elegance and atmosphere with your film, this is the place to go. And you can always drop into Kavarna Lucerna before or after the show for a drink and a very interesting view of David Černý´s “dead horse” sculpture.

Across the street is Kino Světozor (; while lacking the charm of Lucerna, it does have two bars where you can grab a beer before or for the film. Světozor hosts many of the film festivals in town and specializes in foreign and avant garde cinema. Next to the box office is Terryho ponožky (Terry´s Socks, in honor of director Terry Gilliam), a film and poster shop, where you can find a wide selection of DVD´s for purchase.

Světozor´s sister cinemas are Bio Oko ( ) in Letná and Aero ( in Žižkov. Both have a wonderful working class feel to them, although I am a bit partial to Aero as they have my favorite beer on tap and in the summer there is a big courtyard with tables to enjoy a beer before the film.

For a more austere approach, there are Evald (, next to Tesco on Národní, Kino Mat ( by Karlovo náměstí and Kino Atlas ( ) near Florenc. Kino Atlas does have a café upstairs and the Velký Sal is nice, with an odd university lecture hall feel to it and a new big screen and excellent sound system. The Malý Sal there is just too “malý” for my taste.

Back on course to the mature ladies of the cinema, there is Perštýn, tucked away in the curving streets of Prague 1. On Wencelas Square, there´s the wonderfully quirky Kino Blaník ( This Moderne style (think Art Deco, less frills) cinema is huge with a stage for performances and private box seats. The catch to this cinema is that they need to have at least 4 people in the house to show the film. Often this isn´t the case, so if you want to have a near-private screening, round up some of your friends and head on over to the Blaník.

Going a bit out from the center, there is Kino Ořechovka, just two tram stops past Hradčanská as you head away from the city center. From the same era as Kino Blaník, it´s still got the original wood seats and a stage designed for performances. The beauty of this place is the neighborhood, which gives you the feeling like you have traveled to a small village and are no longer in Prague.

Other cinemas just a bit out of the center include another beauty from the early 1900´s, Modřanský biograf (, which also has a bar and restaurant. Out in Prague 5 there are Radotín and Sigma ( near Spořilov, all which are no more than a 20 to 30 minute bus ride from the center.

Part of the fun of going to some of these out of the way cinemas is the trip and discovering a new part of town (and often some lovely sights and restaurants along the way).

Don´t forget summertime outdoor films: Střelecký ostrov ( shows films all summer at 9:30pm on a screen stretched between the trees (really added something to Apocalypse Now, watching it surrounded by trees and water!). They show English language and Czech films, with subtitles, and have concerts on the weekends. And at Danube House (the slick office building at the beginning of Casino Royale), in Karlin, they show films in the courtyard between the two buildings. Keep an eye out for other locations showing films outdoors during the summer.

Listings for all of these cinemas can be found here or in Houser magazine.

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