Prague in Depth: Shopping - Malls and Department Stores
Get to know the Czech retail environment
Major department stores usually carry everything from scooters to toilet seats.
Carrying everything from scooters to toilet seats, Prague's department stores often date back to the Communist era or even earlier.
Since 1989, however, the city has seen an explosion of Western-style malls.
Western-Style Shopping Malls
Boasting 210 shops, this thoroughly modern mall is one of the largest in the country. It's located near the southern end of the metro's red (C) line, in an area largely developed by the Communists.
Obchodní centrum Letňany
Located well outside of the center, in the northeast corner of Prague, this very large shopping mall boasts a giant 24-hour Tesco and a food court with some ethnic restaurants.
Obchodní centrum Nový Smíchov
Housing a Palace Cinemas multiplex, a Tesco hypermarket and a range of other stores, plus the usual complicated escalator system, the three-story Nový Smíchov complex is the second-largest shopping mall in the city center, after Palladium.
A large shopping mall cleverly squeezed into a highly trafficked part of Prague, with a Cinema City multiplex and IMAX theatre and an Albert supermarket on the ground floor. The Rube Goldberg-like system of escalators, elevators and stairs looks nice but don't be surprised if you never get out! It's possible to enter the mall directly from the Flora metro station, however.
With a Cinema City multiplex, a lot of clothing shops and an Electro World electronics store, this mall is a "sometimes must." It's located well outside of the city center, across the highway from the Zličín Tesco and IKEA. All are accessible from the Zličín metro station.
A giant five-story mall on Náměstí Republiky that, upon opening in 2008, became the Czech Republic's biggest shopping center. Palladium's downtown location, opposite the historic Powder Tower (Prašná brána) and Obecní dům, has proven controversial, however.
Built in 1902, the Vinohradská tržnice market hall was converted into a shopping mall in 1994. Vinohradský Pavilon was initially popular but, despite a 2006 revamp, it's struggled to compete with newer and larger shopping centers and several stores are now vacant. An Albert supermarket is located in the basement.
Upmarket Western-Style Shopping Malls
Prague doesn't lack the same posh styles you might find in any major European city. Pařížská is the Rodeo Drive of Prague, with shops like Gucci and Dior, while Na Příkopě is a high-priced haven of flashy malls. Closed to automobile traffic, this is one of Prague's main shopping streets, running from the bottom of Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí) to Náměstí Republiky. In 2008, Na Příkopě ranked 20th in Cushman & Wakefield's Main Streets Across the World survey of global retail rentals.
Linking 19th century buildings on Na Příkopě street and Panská street, the L-shaped "Black Rose" arcade was created in 1932 by Functionalist architect Oldřich Tyl and reconstructed as a shopping mall in the late 1990s. Černá růže focuses mainly on women's clothing and houses Prague's flagship Adidas store.
H&M, Guess and Next are among the stores behind the Myslbek center's distinctive metal gates, in a shopping passage connecting Na Příkopě street to Ovocny trh.
Thanks to its central location, upscale shops and restaurants, and Palace Cinemas multiplex, "Slavic House" remains a popular spot. Dating back to the 17the century, the building was converted into a shopping mall in 1997.
Traditional Department Stores
These stores can be convenient if you're nearby and need something specific. The two most annoying aspects of these stores are the escalator systems and the numerous and overstaffed departments. Under Communism, everyone had a job and you can still find employees who stand around all day without ever serving a single customer.
There are several smaller branches of Bílá labuť ("White Swan") in Prague but the main department store, which predates Communism, is something of a throwback. The giant neon sign, depicting a crowned white swan, can be seen far across the city.
Located on Náměstí Republiky, the ugly 1970s Kotva ("Anchor") building was a "gift" to the people during Communism. The store lost out after the changeover to capitalism but under new management things are looking up.
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