Prague Kampa Island
Once the location of some of the poorest housing in the city, it regularly provided the backdrop for many post WW2 Czech films up to the late 1980’s. Now it’s a commercially developed historic area, very attractive, many things to see and do but not many residents live there any more. Kampa Island is covered on my Prague City Walking Tour.
What’s to See ON Kampa Island?
The Devils Inlet is a natural stream and was used to drive 7 different water wheels for grinding wheat and corn of which two still exist. The whole year round the park is used for various festivities and external exhibitions. You can see the David Cerny “Babies” exhibit, the Kampa Modern Art Museum and adjacent riverside restaurant, the Sri Chinmoy statue, Little Venice, the Jan Werich Villa and the riverside canal. In late spring Kampa Island hosts the Witches Night bonfire. In the summer you’ll find Kampa Island is one of the venues for jazz festivals and other open-air Prague concerts. In October you’ll find it’s part of the Signal Light Festival. Fans of Mission Impossible will find that three scenes from the start of the original film were shot in this area.
Where is It?
Kampa Island is a very well defined piece of land in Malá Strana i.e. the Lesser Town. From the river Vltava runs a small stream called the Certovka which in English is popularly translated as the Devils Inlet. This stream works its way around Kampa Park until it rejoins the river Vltava so quite simply, anything that lay between the Devil’s Inlet and the river Vltava can be called Kampa Island. It “rose from the ashes” literally in this case as after the big 1541 fire much of the partially burned timbers ended up here and was used for the original buildings and mills. Up until 1915 to get here you needed to walk across a Ford or ladies would use a small ferry. The easiest way to get there now is to cross the Charles Bridge FROM the Old Town side going TO the Lesser Town side and when you see the square open up on your left, go down the steps to the scenic “Na Kampe” tree-lined square (pictured below). Click the map or here’s the Google Maps link.
Kampa Island was badly affected by the Prague 2002 flood (you’ll see several flood level markers in the area) and extra flood protection was added which you will see in Kampa Park and “Na Kampe” as a grey line in the ground but it has since recovered and the scenic square “Na Kampe” hosts several hotels and restaurants. During the year it hosts many arts, crafts and food festivals. But the Prague 1890 Flood caused more damage and killed more people.
At the Charles Bridge end of Kampa Island you’ll find the 911 Firefighters memorial.
What Else is in the Area?
As mentioned previously, the Charles Bridge just clips the downstream end of Kampa Island. From behind “Na Kampe” you’ll go across a small bridge which is a “lock your love” site where you’ll also see the picturesque water wheel. Fifty metres from the Water Wheel is the John Lennon Wall. On the upstream side you are one block from the Cafe Savoy and two blocks from Havels Place. You are a 5 minute walk from the Church of Our Lady Victorious. At the end of the Inlet where it goes under the bridge is one of the boarding points for the Little Venice River Cruise.