Use-It is a European network offering free alternative tourist maps, inviting visitors to get off the beaten path. A new map of the Czech capital is now available and as the saying goes, Use it or lose it.
Most first-time visitors to the Czech capital rarely go beyond Prague’s most famous tourist sites from the Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, Malá strana, Wenceslas Square and of course Prague Castle itself. It’s not surprising: not seeing Prague’s most famous sites would be the equivalent of not seeing the Eiffel or Versailles in Paris or the Empire State Building, the Museum Mile or Central Park in New York. For those who have seen the main sites, have more time, or simply have a deeper sense of discovery, there is the Use-It map, pinpointing some more unusual venues in the capital – from hidden cafes and popular bars to galleries and music clubs given short thrift or no mention at all in more mainstream guides. Eva Křížová is the coordinator behind the project:
“What motivated us most is the behaviour of the tourists who often only visit the Royal road and its surroundings but who rarely go elsewhere. This also contributes to devaluing the city centre for us, the locals. We wanted to show them something more, to help them discover neighbourhoods like Vinohrady, Vršovice, Karlín, and Holešovice.”
Also included on the map are restaurants and bistros which are frequented by Czechs themselves. Besides practical, gastronomic, historical and linguistic information, the guide also has a section focussing on free activities. Eva Křížová again:
“In this section, we show tourists how they can visit St Vitus’ Cathedral free of charge, or the Golden Lane outside of the opening hours. We also give information on free events such as open-air concerts at the Wallenstein Garden.”
Prague is not the only city in the Czech Republic to benefit from a Use-it guide. There are also maps for Brno, a new edition of which has just been released, as well as for Ostrava, Olomouc, České Budějovice, Český Krumlov and Plzeň. To publish a guide under the Use-it brand, however, it is necessary to meet certain requirements.
“Our project is a part of Use-it Europe, we have to meet certain conditions. One of them is the maps have to be published in English. This does not prevent them from being published in other languages. The most important rule, however, is that the maps must be free.”
Use-it maps can be picked up at numerous sites in the city of Prague from tourist offices, youth hostels or at the airport. They can also be downloaded online.