Halloween in Prague – Go On Your Own Ghost Tour
“Czech Halloween traditions? There are none! It's an imported commercial American holiday. It's like Valentine's day, just something that you see in movies”, says my Czech flatmate. “But we do have All Saints Day”, she adds, “which is on the 2nd of November when we go to the cemetery and put flowers on the graves of our beloved departed. When actually is Halloween?!”
Seems like one of your most popular holidays is not really a thing around here, dear American friends. But don't give up on the idea of visiting Prague at this time of the year just yet! In fact, autumn is one of my favorite seasons in Prague. I love when it gets all foggy and gloomy - and the warm light of the gas lamps in the small cobblestone streets around Malá Strana and Staré Město (the Lesser Town and the Old Town). It's just the Prague I imagined when I was reading the Gustav Meyrink's Golem. And besides all the events happening around Halloween in Prague – wait for our upcoming blog post for those – there are plenty of things to do and see for you to get you in the mood. Follow me to Prague's atmospheric cemeteries where we will meet some important figures of Czech history, warm up in cozy coffeehouses afterwards and maybe venture out for a day trip to Kutná Hora's bone church.
Image By Michal Kmínek
A very melancholic place, Olšanské hřbitovy is breathing Czech history. It is the largest graveyard in Czech Republic and famous for its Art Nouveau monuments. Many writers, actors, artists, politicians and other famous people found their last resting-place here. Among them are two very contradictory figures: The first Communist president of the country, Klement Gottwald, and student martyr Jan Palach, who burnt himself to death to protest against the invasion of the Soviet led Warsaw Pact armies and the violent end of the Prague spring in 1968. It is a very sad chapter of Czech history and has recently been adapted for a HBO mini-series called Burning Bush by the famous Polish director Agnieszka Holland. It is available with English subtitles, don’t miss out on it, if you want to dig deeper into the topic.
But let’s continue our walk… Should you be visiting Olšanské hřbitovy on the 2nd of November, you might encounter a lot of people lighting candles and bringing flowers. On this day, families go to commemorate their departed relatives in peace and quiet. It is All Souls Day, or in Czech: Dušičky, the tradition my flatmate mentioned when I asked her about Halloween.
After you soaked in the atmosphere of the 12 sections of the graveyard (from Orthodox to Jewish, Muslim to Military) you will find yourself in the not-so-hospitable borderland of Žižkov and Vinohrady. Longing for some lively atmosphere? Just a few meters away, curiosities and culinary treats await close to the square Jiřího z Poděbrad.
How to get to Olšanské hřbitovy?
You can get off at Metro stop Želivského or Flora, the entrance is somewhere in the middle. Tram 5, 10, 11 or 16 go to Olšanské hřbitovy.
Image by 7dos
Looking for an inspiration for your Halloween costume? You might find it on the 216 meters high Žižkov TV tower, one of Prague's weirder sights. I think it is quite brave and visionary to place this ugly spaceship in the middle of all the old building structures, but go see yourself… Black babies with square faces (too much TV?!) are crawling up and down the tower, a permanent installation by the Czech sculptor David Černý. You can find more of his interesting sculptures around the city, just ask your favorite receptionist!
How to get there?
Metro line A stops at Jiřího z Poděbrad. If you are coming from Olšanské hřbitovy, take tram 11 to get there – or walk 10 minutes. Le Caveau is at nám. J. z Poděbrad 1561/9, Pradelna in Slavikova 21.
Image by Michal Barbuščák
The Vyšehrad fortress and cemetery are beautiful places to visit all year around, but they are especially beautiful in autumn when the leaves of the many trees in the areal change their colours. Vyšehrad is just a few metro stops away from Jiřího z Poděbrad (change to line C at Muzeum stop). Up there, you can find the Basilica of St Peter and St Paul, as well as the Vyšehrad Cemetery where you will, again, meet famous Czechs like Antonín Dvořák, Bedřich Smetana, Karel Čapek (who, by the way, invented the word robot. Read the novel where it first appeared here), and Alphonse Mucha.
A walk around the walls of the fortress will reward with beautiful views over the river and the castle. Enjoy the walks through the sculpture garden and the peace and calm away from the tourist masses on the other side of the river. Catacombs can also be visited.
How to get there?
Get off at Metro Stop Vyšehrad and follow the signs. Or, alternatively, take tram 17 to Výtoň. You will already see the Basilica of St Peter and St Paul from there, just follow the steep cobblestone street up the hill. There are also some nice restaurants on the way.
Day Trip to Kutná Hora
Image by Alberto Carrasco-Casado
The interior of the Sedlec Ossuary is “decorated” with the skeletons of estimated 40.000-70.000 people. It has a very sad history dating back to the mid 14th century, the times of the Back death and the Hussite Wars, when the graveyard of this town was not big enough anymore to bury all the victims.
Kutná Hora has an impressive cathedral as well and some nice restaurants.
How to get there?
You can book a tour with our friends from Good Prague Tours or just take a train from Prague's main train station. Just ask us for the timetable.
I could easily give you 10 more reasons to visit us and Prague in the upcoming months... Follow us here and on Facebook to stay updated. Or better yet, just book your accommodation with our winter specials and come talk to us in person!