The other Prague art scene

Prague street performersSuch a magical city like Prague has a lot to offer for anyone, whatever their cultural interests. This is especially true for anyone that has more than a passing interest for music: from fantastic opera halls with vibrant acoustics to modern halls hosting gigs and performances of contemporary music artists. But besides the established places there is, in Prague, another prominent venue where you can assist to interesting performances: the streets. As you walk trough some narrow alleys in the heart of the Old Town you will often encounter musicians, mimes, and other kind of artists.

Historically, Prague has seen troubadours and other performers animate its streets since the Middle Ages. According to history,

King Wenceslas II organised the first major musical event that was to draw the attention of all of Europe. He held a musical competition in Prague, inviting the most famous minnesingers of Europe. This event was the predecessor to what we now, seven hundred years later, call the Prague Spring Festival. Unlike today, though, the King took part in the competition personally, as a minnesinger.

Later on, Prague established itself as one of the cultural centers in Europe, being a fertile soil for all types of talents. Such a flourishing artistic environment still keeps attracting musicians and performers from all over the world.

Nowadays these artists go by the friendlier name of buskers, and the act of busking is now regulated by the Czech authorities as you can read in the following taken from the latest Prague city ordinance:

  • performances shall be live
  • busking shall be performed by no more than four persons
  • busking shall be carried on between 10:00 and 21:00
  • one busker shall perform publicly in one place for no longer than two hours at a time
  • a busker shall not place any material items (stages, platforms, etc…) in the public space
  • the noise limit of 45 dB shall be observed
  • the sale of portable media with the busker’s own work shall only be carried out without the placement of sales equipment
  • access to neighbouring buildings shall not be obstructed
  • the free movement of passers-by shall not be obstructed or disrupted and an appropriate free pathway, no narrower than two metres, must remain on the pavement
  • there shall be no obstruction or disruption of the course of permitted, announced and other events (including but not limited to the activities of other buskers that began their performance earlier and are observing the recommendations)
  • a busker must heed the instructions of a component of the integrated emergency services system and other public authorities in the exercise of their powers

As you can see, although the list is long and the regulation is observed rather strictly, the spirit of the law is actually quite relaxed, because the state of the scene prior to the recent changes was much stricter – one needed a permit in order to perform in the streets, which is now not required.

Now you might be reading us from around the corner or from the Kingdom of Far Far Away so we have prepared for you a virtual sample of what Prague street performers have to offer.

An amazing melody flows into wonderful music coming out of these water-filled crystal glasses:

Drummers play even in the very cold weather, their rhythm may warm you up a bit, especially if you let your limbs go wild following their tune:

A player of accordion, playing something resembling French chansons:

A spray-can artist, with his unbelievably amazing creations, made right in front of his casual audience:

And as you pass by the same locations some other day you see another great band performing a cheerful melody:

A very unusual artist whose creations are rather bubbly:

But this, as we said, is just a small sample of what the Prague street art scene has to offer. We leave it to you, whenever you’ll come to visit Prague to let fate and your own curiosity guide you trough the thick web of alleys and be rewarded, surprised and fascinated by the art of the buskers. And when you happen to capture something worth sharing don’t forget to send us your pictures and videos via Facebook or Twitter.

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