Welcome to a new feature at GrooveTraveler where we’ll be spotlighting major destinations from around the world and picking them apart to the sounds of searing music running through our drug and drink-addled minds. That’s right, it’s The Muso’s Guide.
A regular spot dedicated to highlighting the big sights with music in mind, expect a back-country walk through musical landscapes, contemporary discotheques and “I-wish-we-never-went-there” cultural undergrounds.
First up. Prague. City of beer but also a place I remember fondly due to the brain-frying effects of absinthe.
Let’s pick out what’s hot to see as we journey around the Czech capital!
John Lennon Wall
Situated in Grand Priory Square, what once was a normal city wall was transformed during the 80s into a memoriam for the man behind “Imagine”. An on-going work of art, the Lennon-inspired graffiti of his image and lyrics are constantly reworked here, with the original portrait long covered over.
Made doubly significant by the Czech Republic’s recent Communist history, the wall was a major point of contention between the regime of Gustáv Husák and the young Czech’s who saw the wall as an ultimate extension of Lennon’s message of love and peace.
Any self-respecting muso should be itching to be etching their mark and message to the former Beatles legend here.
After the country’s occupation during World War II and its subsequent rule under Communist governments, jazz, especially throughout the 50s and early 60s, became one of Prague’s main saviors.
Making some of the few musicians tolerated by the regime (although that would later change), the popularity and love of jazz and its musicians continues into the capital we see today.
Some of Prague’s must-see sights showcasing this free musical form include the AghaRTAJazz Centrum, located a stones throw from many Prague hostels and hotels, with live performances every night from 9pm, and the Ungelt Jazz and Blues Club, located in a 1000-year old vault.
Muso’s might also get turned on by the fact that it’s also possible to catch jazz at one of the city’s most-visited monuments, Prague Castle, the venue of a monthly concert cycle.
Skipping a few generations before the great outburst of jazz and rock n’roll, Prague was a cultural hotbed for opera and classical tunes. One of the most famous guests to have visited and resided in the capital, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, finished off Don Giovanni here while living in the elegant 17th-century house Vila Bertramka. Now a museum, muso’s might be able to catch the regular concerts held here in the buildings garden and salon.
The Hotel Aria takes Prague’s musical heritage so seriously that it even has a resident musical director, Dr Ivana Stehlikova, who advises guests on what concerts to head out to and which sections of the hotels vast CD archives should be listened to.
Chances are if you’re on a budget though you won’t have much to drop staying in this 5-star luxury hotel. Still it’s worth a wander inside in the hope that you might be able to check out one of its individual 51-rooms dedicated to a particular music style or composer. Prague’s finest.
Out with the old and in with the new. As Prague continues to remain very much a European capital in flux, there’s no shortage of great modern day hangouts to haunt to get a contemporary slice of its musical landscape.
Akropolis, an art deco theatre showcasing the city’s beating indie scene, is definitely the place to be seen for any self-respecting hipster. For other touches of rock n’roll it might well be worth crashing the Lucerna music bar too.
If you’re looking for something a bit more pumping then the Prague club scene is definitely worth exploring. Head on down to the Staré Mêsto on any Friday night and simply follow the primped and preemed crowds heading out to joints like the Cross Club, Wakata and Újezd.
No matter how hardcore your musical tastes are, Prague has something for everyone!