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The Search for the Perfect Souvenir

Mercado Havelská
Marionetas de Praga
Licor Becherovka
Cristal de Bohemia

jsmjr on VisualHunt / CC BY-SA

The typical products of Prague are imprinted with the city’s charm. Some of the items you come across during your stay are bound to find their way into your suitcase.
Prague markets and flea markets are popular with residents and tourists alike due to the wide variety of products on offer. They represent another of the city’s many attractions. Caution is advised if you intend to purchase valuable items like Bohemian glass; they are rarely authentic. It’s best to buy them from the specialised shops in the city. In any case, the markets in Prague are busy places, fun to stroll around even with children, and for finding all manner of interesting objects. Take note: the most representive products from Prague are wooden toys, musical instruments, crafts, antiques, amber, Bohemian glass and Becherovka liqueur.

The oldest market in Prague is the Havelská Trh. It dates back to the early 13th century when a huge farmers market occupied the site, spilling into other parallel streets and a nearby square in the Staré Mesto district, or Old Town. The market has myriad produce stalls, fresh flowers and local products. On weekends, the range of goods expands to include crafts, such as puppets. The flea market in itself has a friendly atmosphere and is an ideal place to do some shopping, with great prices. It is open Monday to Saturday, from 06:00 to 18:00 and Sunday from 08:30 to 17:30.

Long ago, a colony of Vietnamese settled in a central zone and created the Holešovice or Vietnamese market, as it is commonly known. Being close to the Vltava river, the previous market was called River Town, after the area was remodelled. As well as the usual produce stalls, you’ll find others with clothes, imitation goods, furniture, antiques, kitchen utensils, decorative items, Vietnamese products and several food kiosks. The Vietnamese are accustomed to bargaining with their most loyal customers, the Prague citizens, so you’ll just have go with the flow. But be on the lookout for imitations; they are everywhere. The market is open from Monday to Friday, from 08:00 to 18:00, and on Saturday, from 08:00 to 13:00.

Lastly, the flea market sets up every Saturday from 07:00 to 14:00 in an ancient courtyard. The fee to go in is negligible, just 10 CZK, but it’s worth it for the range of products you’ll find, new and second-hand, exotic, strange, stuffed animals (not the fluffy kind), antiques and car parts. There’s also a café where you can relax. To get to the market, take the Line B metro to Kolbenova station.

Dolls for all Tastes

Wooden puppet theatre holds an important place in the country’s culture. Puppets are, by far, the most sought after souvenirs. They are in markets and shops with prices are around 400 CZK, for small ones. They are a symbol of Prague which delight young and old. Almost as popular are nesting dolls, originally from Russia, but also typical in the Czech Republic. These hollow wooden dolls fit one inside the other and come in sets of five or more, but always in odd numbers.

Becherovka, an Herbal Liqueur with a Secret Formula

This delicious, 38º proof liqueur was invented in the early 19th century. Made from the medicinal waters of Karlovy Vary, it contains 32 herbs and bitter spices that grow locally, and sugar. Only two people in the factory know its formula. In Prague, Becherovka is drunk with tonic and called Beton, although it can also be enjoyed straight or with other soft drinks. The small bottle makes it a popular souvenir choice with tourists.

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