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Recently voted one of the most beautiful city islands in the world, Kampa is located in the Malá Strana (the Lesser Town) neighborhood of Prague. Head here for great views, some incredible art, and a few surprises.
Czech actor and writer Jan Werich lived on this 17th-century mansion for 40 years until his death in 1980. Known as the Warich Villa, the mansion was seriously damaged during the Prague floods in 2002 and had remained empty until 2015. Although still closed to the public (so you can only get a glimpse of its beautiful white walls as they undergo restoration work), the Jan and Meda Mládek Foundation is working to convert the mansion into a museum and cultural center in years to come.
Right next to the bridge, you’ll see a house with a wrought iron balcony and a very obvious painting of the Virgin Mary hanging for everybody to see. The owner of this private home says he found the picture floating on the canal during a major flood. As soon as he fished it out of the water – legend goes – the tide immediately turned and the house and most of the island were saved from flooding. Truth or not, the image still hangs on the balcony as a symbol of good luck.
The canal that runs under Charles Bridge and through Kampa is known as Devil’s Stream. While you can’t walk alongside the canal, boat tours will take you along it so you can snap pictures of the old houses – many of which are former mills – flanking it.
Only two wheels remain on Devil’s Stream, the reminder of an era gone by, when locals used the power of the water to power up their homes and businesses. The Grand Priory Mill wheel is the most impressive, with a diameter of over seven meters. Often turning, even in winter, the wheel sits right across from a café, where you can grab a cold beer for great views and a cool breeze.
The yellow penguins by the Cracking Art Group made an appearance on a metal beam over the Vltava River in late 2016. Technically a part of an exhibition by the Museum Kampa, they light up at night.
The 14th-century Charles Bridge lies across the river, beyond the yellow penguins. From Kampa Island, you also get great views of the Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral, perfect for a romantic photo next to the water, especially at night.