Prague quarter Smichov, located on the left bank of the Vltava river south from Prague Castle, has changed its appearance in recent years. Until 19th century, Prague outskirts with factories and lots of industrial objects is now quickly changing into commercial, shopping, cultural and residential zone with close proximity to Prague old historical centre. Newly built hotel complex could be find in the heart of Smichov quarter.
Large industrial halls from the 19th century were replace by developer by shopping centres or hotels, but the quarter still retains its unique character with a lots of bars and night life.
In Prague administrative division, Smichov is the central part of Prague 5. The quarter was mentioned for the first time at the end of the 13th century in connection with the coronation of the Czech king Wenceslas II (1271 - 1305). Starting from the Middle Ages, the prevailing part of this territory was occupied by vineyards, hop-fields, yards, fields and gardens belonging to the Church. Mills were built along the river.
Huge industrial boom of Smichov was started in the 18th century by the foundation of several manufactures. From the beginning of the 19th century factories started to be built on the place where Prague townsmen and noblemen built their gardens and follies two centuries before.
The quarter quickly became a "hundred-chimney Manchester". Since 1848 it has had its own self-government, after that it became one of Prague suburb. In the second half of the 19th century, the town hall was built, which has been used for this purpose ever since, and opposite the town hall, the Church of St Wenceslas was built. Together with the factories, also some residential houses and colonies for workers were built.
Nowadays, after most of the factories were demolished or renovated into modern houses, Smichov offers ideal address both for business and residence.
One of the factories still kept and working is Staropramen, the largest brewery in Prague and the is the second largest brewery in the Czech Republic. It was founded in 1869 and the brand name Staropramen, literally meaning “old spring,” was registered in 1911. In 1876, the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph visited the brewery, and after testing the beer, he quoted "excellent beer, excellent indeed". Now, it is owned by transnational Inbev and its products are exported to 37 countries across the globe, mostly in Europe and North America. Staropramen has also its visitor centre, so people can learn all about the past and present of the brewery along with the taste of the beer.
Not all of the villas built in the 17th century were destroyed during the industrial boom in Smichov. For example, Bertramka, elegant villa not far from the metro station Anděl, was the temporary residence of one of the greatest musicians in the history, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, during his visits to Prague at the 18th century. As a guest of Czech composer František Dušek, Mozart finished his opera Don Giovanni in the house. The opera was performed in the Nosticz Theatre (now The theatre of Estates) on 29 October 1787, one day after Mozart completed the scores, with the full title Il Dissoluto Punito ossia il Don Giovanni Dramma giocoso in due atti.
Now the villa is the Mozart museum, where summer concerts are also held.