Walking Tour: Žižkov's Hidden History

  • Start Želivského metro station
  • End National Monument
  • Length 4.5km; two hours

From the Želivského metro head west on Vinohradská. At the first kiosk selling flowers, go right and enter Olšany Cemetery. Prague's largest burial ground is famous for its ornate family memorials, many in art-nouveau style (you'll see the word RODINA, meaning 'famliy', on many gravestones).

Turn left and follow the path running west, parallel to the wall; 250m along, just after the start of the main entrance building on the left, is the grave of Jan Palach (on the right), littered with flowers and votive candles. Just past the main entrance is Olšany's most elaborate monument, the Hrdličkova family tomb; it shows soldier Hans appearing to his mother in a dream, while she is comforted by Emperor Franz Josef I.

Continue west, keeping close to the south wall; at the far end of Section V (signed 'Hřbitov V odd. 20') is the grey granite slab marking the grave of Klement Gottwald, the first Communist president of Czechoslovakia; his remains were reinterred here after being removed from the National Monument in 1990.

Now follow the cobblestoned main path northwest towards the far side of the cemetery, passing crumbling family mausoleums to the open space where the 17th-century plague victims were buried. When you reach the far wall, turn left and exit onto Jičínska; turn right, cross busy Olšanská and go up the stairs to the right of the footbridge. In a grafitti-strewn hollow on the right (there's an outdoor bar here in summer) are two massive steel doors that lead into a Cold-War nuclear bunker (accessible by guided tour).

Above is the tiny Parukářka pub and beer garden, a focus for the local community. Take the main path east through Parukářka park (note the concrete ventilation towers for the vast bunker below) and continue along Na Parukařce. Go left on Jana Želivského, across Koněvova, then left and first right on Pražačka, which leads for 1.5km along the crest of Žižkov Hill to the National Monument, with fantastic views in all directions.