Interested in discovering the interiors of Prague’s beautiful buildings — for free? Many of the city’s museums are located in historic buildings, built during grander times. You may or may not be a museum person, but you can sit in their splendor, sipping a drink in their cafes.
Built in the late 1880s, the cafe at the National Museum (Vaclavske namesti 68; 420-224-497-111; www.nm.cz) features a half-dozen or so tables, nestled under the soaring marble of the historic museum steps. Softly lit, the ambience can be a pleasant break from the natural science exhibitions that are the museum’s specialty. (The museum will close this summer for a four-year reconstruction.)
The neo-Renaissance Galerie Rudolfinum (Alsovo nabrezi 12; 420-227-059-205; www.galerierudolfinum.org) is a contemporary art museum, though it feels more like a stately ballroom, with marble pillars and a glass ceiling. The cafe offers a vibe more reminiscent of the 1930s, with simple tables, lots of light and palm trees.
Café Nona (Narodní 4; 420-224-931-482; www.novascena.cz) is in Nova Scena, a theater built in the early ’80s and unceremoniously plunked down amongst the neo-Renaissance flair of Narodni Street. Black-light shows and modern dance performances are usually on the bill. The cafe itself is located on the third floor in what was once the foyer and cloakroom. The large space now features a bar to the left, tables with window side seats to the right, and in the middle, conversational nooks formed out of couches, chairs and bookcases.
The National Museum’s “New Building” (Vinohradská 1; 420 224 497 111; www.nm.cz), so-called to distinguish it from the “old” building next door, was originally built as the Prague Stock Exchange, then was used by Parliament until 1992, when it was offered to Radio Free Europe. It became part of the National Museum in 2009. The large cafe offers warm wood and leather chairs; with the bar in the middle and big windows lining one side giving a view to the museum’s elder brother.
The cafes’ hours normally correspond with those of the museums, so normal closing days and a 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. schedule are typical. (One exception is Café Nona which stays open late.)