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Prague: ARTĚL Style

Expert recommendations and insider tips for first-time visitors and locals alike from ARTĚL’s founder, Karen Feldman, who has lived in Prague since 1994. Click on the links below for detailed reviews – from Feldman’s own unique perspective – of all the best that Prague has to offer...





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Hats Off to the Viper

Published on January 30th, 2014 in Shopping

  • Martin Písařík as the village idiot in the Czech series "Doktoři z Počátků" (photo courtesy of TV Nova)

  • Skilled Moravian butcher creating lots of delicatessen goodies–from a 250 kilo pig. (CTK Photo/Petr Mlch)

  • Zmijovka Original (photo courtesy of

  • Former Czech Prime Minister Vladimír Špidla sporting his zmijovka (photo courtesy of

  • Poet Stanislav Elijah [with his zmijovkou and a basket in hands] (photo courtesy of


The French have their berets, the Austrians their tyrolean hats, the Russians their furry ushankas. The Czech contribution to this parade of cold weather head fashion? The viper (zmijovka) a knit wool skull cap so called for the zig-zag pattern that snakes around its brim. Originating in the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the viper, also called the snake (hadovka), traditionally came in simple black or brown and was indispensable for keeping the chill off butchers, innkeepers, fishmongers, and tractor drivers. So symbolic of country life is this tasselled beanie, that it even adorned characters in the Oscar-nominated film "My Sweet Village" (Vesničko má středisková). Today the viper has regained popularity as vintage accessory du jour – thanks in part to former Czech prime minister Vladimír Špidla, who recently sported one while en route to diplomatic duties in Brussels. Modern varieties of the viper can be found in a rainbow of colors including the psychedelic shades that have made it a hit in Senegal and Nigeria where, despite the hat’s Czech roots, it is considered part of the national costume! Purveyor of fine hats Tonak sells a stylish version of the viper with a bill  (304 CZK) at their Wenceslas Square boutique, but purists like myself who insist on the on the real deal will find the viper at shops that stock work shirts and uniforms. I personally recommend U Mončičáka – BEKINO where you can purchase the original woolen cap for 299 CZK either at their store or online – it’s certain to provide toasty ears, and warm thoughts, of your visit to the Czech Republic.





Koruna Palace
Václavské náměstí 1, Prague 1
tel 222 218 506

metro Můstek
hours Daily 10:00-20:00


U Mončičáka – BEKINO

Bělohorská 21, Prague 6
tel 723 031 551
tram 22, 25 to Marjánka
hours Mon- Fri: 10:00-13:00 14:00-18:00, Sat: 9:00-12:00