A Praguer through and through, playwright Vaclav Havel was one of the driving forces of Charter 77, the group of dissidents who sought to bring about the end of the repressive regime and ultimately succeeded in November 1989 in what was dubbed the Velvet Revolution.
You can walk in the footsteps of this national hero and see Prague as he did.
Home sweet home
Just next door is the pub & restaurant Na Rybarne (map marker B), where he took celebrities such as Mick Jagger and Bill Clinton.
In the background of that picture you’ll notice a tower (map marker C). It was from here that the StB, the Communist Secret Police, would observe Havel’s comings and goings.
Head north along the river and you’ll soon pass the National Theatre and opposite it, on Narodni street, you’ll see Café Slavia (map marker E), with its plate glass windows overlooking the river. The coffee’s not up to much (see our post about Prague cafés for some suggestions) but you can’t go wrong with a beer.
To the Castle and Back
Havel’s memoirs, titled To the Castle and Back, tell it all in more detail but by all accounts he was reluctant to put himself forward but there was a groundswell of opinion and he relented. As The Economist puts it:
Havel confounded those who thought he was too dilettantish to be a proper president. He rollerskated through the corridors of Prague castle, exorcising the ghosts of the communist usurpers with his humanity and humour.
You can’t rollerskate there yourself but you can take a tour (map marker F).
Showing famous friends a good time
Havel was pretty well connected, pals with rockstars and world leaders from the Dalai Lama and Bill Clinton to Lou Reed and the Rolling Stones. Drop by Reduta Jazz Club (map marker G) in the evening to catch a performance and see where Clinton played his sax for Havel.
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Havel’s apartment image credit: Furman University Education Department
Vaclav Havel image credit: Wikipedia Commons