This week I want to talk about where to buy handmade gifts here in Prague. One of the things I like about living here is that there are still numerous tiny, privately owned shops that sell things you can’t get in big chain stores.
First of all, in Prague 2, is a place called Momo that specializes in little handmade things, mostly fabric based and earrings. The proceeds from this shop go to help local orphanages, so not only are you supporting local craftsmen, you are also helping children.
Not far from Momo is Cafe Rozmar. Cafe Rozmar is actually a nice cafe/restaurant, with food ranging from decent to excellent at reasonable prices. I mention Rozmar here because they are a charity cafe and proceeds from the cafe go to supporting their work with children transitioning from the orphanages to independent life. They also employ some of the people they are helping. So, if you are looking to give someone a gift certificate, while not completely handmade, I do recommend one from Rozmar.
Scattered around Prague are also a number of festivals and markets which sell handmade goods, and getting stuff at these is just a matter of being at the right place with enough pocket money. I have yet to find where all these markets are listed, as they range from farmer markets to holiday markets to festival markets, so I tend to stumble upon them quite by accident. However, I always manage to pick up a little something, whether woodwork, beadwork, lace, or other needlework.
Another place to find handmade gifts in Prague is in the Catholic churches with monasteries and cloisters attached to them. For instance, St. Thomas on Mala Strana sells its own beer (proceeds go to repairing the roof) and at least twice a year hosts a bazaar where a local group of nuns sells their traditional Czech handcrafts. Other churches have similar bazaars, but, like the festivals and markets above, it is a matter of stumbling upon them with enough pocket money, as they are not centrally listed somewhere.
I cannot blog about handmade gifts in Prague without mentioning Charles Bridge. There are numerous artists and vendors on Charles Bridge, selling woodwork, paintings, music, glassware, and other things. Some of the vendors are actually the artists, others are not. I have a love/hate relationship with Charles Bridge, like most people who actually have to live here in Prague. There are so many tourists there, even in the dismal winter, and the prices are always way more than similar things off the bridge. That being said, Husband is getting a cd of this band, who really are great fun to watch and listen to.
Finally, I would also like to mention Manufaktura, but with some reservation. The good things about Manufaktura are that they sell a lot of traditional things handmade by Czech artists (handprinted cloth anyone? how about a straw nativity scene? wooden toys?) and there is also a certain level of quality control involved, so you are relatively guaranteed that you are buying something well made. On the other hand, Manufaktura is jaw-droppingly expensive for Czech, so it is only tourists that really shop there. It follows that I can’t speak to how much of the price actually goes back to the artists, but at least there are a number of Manufaktura stores around Prague that take debit/credit cards, so you don’t have to stumble upon them with a pocket full of cash.
Prague offers a number of places to buy handmade gifts and items for the home and life, which is one of the more endearing aspects of living here. Though I do miss my charity shops in Britain, I do value being able to support local shop owners and artists.