Žižkov is a grittier working-class district with no tourist attractions, whose shabby, rundown streets contain some of the city’s well-known pubs and clubs. Today, many buildings have been renovated, and the shabby feeling about the area is slowly changing.
This district is named in honour of Jan Žižka, the leader of the Hussite army. It is located southwards of Žižkov Hill, the area where the Vitkov Hill Battle occurred, on the 14th July 1420. In this battle, Žižka’s army of peasants decisively beat the troops of the Holy Roman Emperor, Sigismund. Žižkov Hill is characterised by a huge Jan Žižka statue, which depicts the military leader on horseback. This was commissioned in 1931 and was sculpted by the Prague artist Bohumil Kafka (not related to Franz Kafka). Kafka had a massive studio specifically built for this project, and he worked on this statue until he died in 1941. By this time, he had only managed to create a full-sized plaster version. Eventually, all 16.5 tonnes of the statue were set in bronze and unveiled on the 14th July 1950, which was the Vítkov Hill Battle anniversary.
Žižkov was among the first industrial suburbs of Prague. For a long time, it has been known as a tough working-class area. It was a melting pot of revolutionary left-wing fervour long before the communists took over in 1948. Actually, from 1881-1922, it was an autonomous municipality and was referred to as the “people’s republic”.
These days, Žižkov is among the liveliest districts in Prague, with a greater number of bars and restaurants per square mile than anywhere else in Prague. It is still a fairly rough area, which deters many tourists, although the streets are just as safe as anywhere else in the city. Interesting sights here include the burial site of Franz Kafka, Olšany Cemetery, the Television Tower that might be covered during the afternoons, and the National Monument. However, the major attractions here are the pubs and bars. The west of Žižkov has always been renowned for a large number of strip clubs, cheap bars and brothels.