One of the things I love most about Iowa is its unique neighborhoods and unexpected heritage sites located within larger cities. In Cedar Rapids, one of those cultural influences happens to be Czech.
Today the area just across the river from the thriving New Bohemia neighborhood is known as the Czech Village. Once home to many Czech and Slovak immigrants, this part of Cedar Rapids is filled with interesting architecture, cultural symbols, and restaurants and bakeries serving traditional delicacies. It also makes it a great place to spend the day and learn something new.
Start your day at the National Czech & Slovak Museum for a glimpse into the area’s history and a lesson in how the area’s residents came to immigrate to Iowa. The small museum has a number of permanent and rotating exhibits sure to spark the interest of history lovers both young and old.
Next head up the street to Sykora Bakery for a cup of coffee and a traditional Czech pastry. My personal favorites are kolaches, doughy pastries with a dollop of fruit or jelly at the center and sometimes sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Wandering the streets of the Czech Village, you’ll stumble across a variety of cultural symbols, including more than a few depictions of the Czech Coat of Arms (pictured above), lion-inspired statues and businesses, and even a mosaic egg depicting the neighborhood’s attractions.
Share Your Thoughts
I would love to hear from you! Have you visited Cedar Rapids’ Czech Village? What’s your favorite place to explore?