Prague is known as one of the world's spookiest places, a city of haunted tales and piercing architecture, but the city is actually stranger than its strange reputation. In this town of dark shadows and mid-day drunks, I explore the unexpected and fabulous.
The Green Fairy
Prague is world-famous for absinthe, the licorice-y spirit associated with Belle Epoque artists. Most countries ban bottles with more than 35mg/L of thujones (the chemical compound that supposedly causes hallucinations). However, the Czech Republic sells brands that go up to 100 mg/L.
At Absinthe Time (Kremencova, 511000 Prague, +011 420 222 516 300), I tried the strongest drink on the menu, "King of Spirits." No fairies appeared, though I could have sworn the insects in the "beetle absinthe" were still moving.
Absintherie (Jilska Str, Franz Kafka Square, Prague, +011 420 224 241 610) serves absinthe ice cream. Upstairs, there's dreamy art and museum displays.
The decor at Cross Club (Plynární 1096/23, Prague 7, 17000, +011 420 736 535 053) is a tip of the hat to Blade Runner, with walls of clockwork and moving metal parts. One of the bars is lit by neon motherboards.
Despite the centuries-old Gothic architecture, modern Goth culture caught on relatively recently in Prague. A new event at MayDay Club (Sokolovská 972/195, Prague 9, 19000, +011 420 604 277 449) brings together metal bands and accessories vendors, in a dungeon-like space painted with skulls. The Hell Party at Styx Club (Sokolovská 144/349, Prague 8, 18600, +011 604 267 995) features electro-industrial dance music, and body modifications involving needle and thread.
What's the spookiest place you've ever visited? Have you explored Prague's underground scene?
Where to stay
I recommend short-term apartment rentals, which let you experience the city as if you lived there. My spacious Oh Prague apartment was a 10 minute walk to Charles Bridge, which leads to Old Town.
Intriguing modern art among the centuries-old buildings.
Beneath the ultra-Gothic Týn Church, established in the 14th century.
A wall of absinthe. Upstairs, there was hallucinogenic art on display.
A sweet treat, strong with alcohol and licorice flavors.
A Go With Oh apartment rental lets you live like a local. Mine was a 10 minute walk to Charles Bridge, which leads to Old Town.
Shopping in the showroom of Dracula Clothing, purveyors of dark, Victorian and Steampunk couture.
Gothic cathedral of St Vitus, which holds the tombs of Bohemian kings.
No wonder the Czech Republic is linked to vampire stories.
At Prague's Cross Club, the rooms are filled with metalwork and moving parts.
The bar features flashing lights and motherboards.
At an underground Goth club, a boy has his mouth sewn shut on stage. For more Prague photos and alternative travel, visit La Carmina blog.
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