Culture

 

Café Slavia – A famous meeting point for Prague poets, playwrights and theatre goers

 
photo:  ('The Absinthe Drinker', photo: Ondřej Tomšů)
 

Prague is well-known for its many cafés, one of the most famous, without question, is Café Slavia, which first opened its doors in 1884. Located in Lažanský Palace, which is also home to famous Prague film school FAMU, Café Slavia offers views of the National Theatre and the Vltava River.

 
 

Inside, the venue offers charm in the form of art deco design and with it plenty of history. It was a leading café for intellectuals such as the artist Jiří Kolář, poet Jaroslav Seifert, writer Arnošt Lustig or playwright Václav Havel. Café Slavia is nothing less than a Prague institution.

The café’s Zuzana Matějková says because of its proximity to the National Theatre, it’s no surprise that artists, actors and many others in creative professions still frequent the venue.

“The frequency of visitors still remains high and that hasn’t changed. We still count plenty of actors and directors as clientele as well. What is a little different is that the café is that it also became verz popular with top politicians. Other visitors of course are regular people and tourists, many of whom are especially interested in the history and come to enjoy the view.”

During the era of the First Republic, the interior was changed to the popular style of art deco. It was frequented by theatre-goers before or after performances, and many famous regular customers had their designated spot, including, the playwright, dissident, and future president Václav Havel, whose table was always "reserved". Zuzana Matějková again:

“Mr Havel used to sit right over there at the table at the end. That was his spot and nobody else could have it when he was around. He sat there with a view from the window in the direction of his home and it was of course in the smoking section. And that was his spot.”

One of the most famous paintings visitors may notice when visiting the café is called The Absinthe Drinker by Viktor Oliva, an oil painting from 1901, which features a protagonist and his absinthe muse: an imaginary female nude perched pertly at the edge of his table, green and ghostly like the absinthe in his glass. The Absinthe Drinker became popular over the last 20 years: originally, a painting of the mother of the Slavs, Slavia, hung in its place, but was moved to National Gallery in 1997.

“The former painting wouldn’t fit here anymore after the renovation, when the space was opened up. But the Absinthe Drinker fits very well here as well.”

Café Slavia rose to such fame that it even features in some works of literature: Jaroslav Seifert refers to the coffeehouse in Halleyova kometa, and Ota Filip published a novel titled Kavárna Slavia in 1985.

 
Author: Český rozhlas Radio Praha
 
Added: 04.03.2017
 
 
 

Related articles

 
Culture
 
 

Legendary Tatra 77 car showcased at...

A new exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London brings together fifteen diverse cars to...

 
 
Culture
 
 

Robert Guttmann: painter...

The early 20th century naïve painter and sketch artist Robert Guttmann, in whose honour the exhibition...

 
 
Culture
 
 

Milan Kundera’s Czech citizenship...

The celebrated Czech-born writer Milan Kundera received Czech citizenship forty years after it was...

 
 
Culture
 
 

“It’s still revolutionary”: Věra...

The 1966 film Daisies by Věra Chytilová has come sixth in an extensive new BBC poll of the 100 greatest...

 
Most favourite

History of Czech fine art

What happened in the realm of fine art at the very beginning of the Czech…

Climate

The Czech Republic is a landlocked country located in moderate geographical…

The most significant current discoveries

During the last decade, Czech science has made many revolutionary discoveries…

Czech language

The Czech language belongs to the group of West Slavic languages. From another…

Traditional Czech products

Czech industrial production has a long tradition, and many products are known…

Traditional Czech products

Czech industrial production has a long tradition, and many products are known…