The Best Sights In The City
Everywhere you travel in the Czech Republic you’ll hear the capital name pronounced just as the Czech’s spell it – Praha. Once the capital of the Holy Roman Empire and the capital of Czechoslovakia, Prague is the site of several inspiring attractions which survived world wars and the violence of a Communist era. It’s substantial involvement in the arts spawned many opera houses and even film studios.
Sometimes called the European Hollywood, Prague is home to famous film studios of the Czech Republic. Barrandov Studios is one of the largest in Europe. The company produces Czech films as well as providing services to visiting filmmakers and were involved with films released in America like The Bourne Identity, Casino Royale, Mission Impossible and many others.
From its galleries, castles and cathedrals, to its beer fests, this charming global city has much to offer the more than four million tourists who visit each year. Some call it mesmerizing, others say it’s magical. Here is a sample of some of the best sights in the City of Prague.
The Charles Bridge
Named after Holy Roman Emperor and king of Bohemia, Charles IV, the historical bridge as well as Pargue’s New Town were a result of King Charles’ design concept. Protected by three towers
the bridge is considered to be one of the most extraordinary gothic-style structures in the world. Flanked by 30 saintly statues, the bridge spans 516 meters.
Tourists fill the bridge during the day, along with vendors selling souvenirs, caricaturists, and musicians hoping for generosity from passersby. A long stretch of the Vltava river can be seen standing on the center of the bridge. For the best and broadest view of the complete bridge, stop in at one of the many patio restaurants dotting the adjacent hillside.
The biggest ancient castle in the world according to Guinness Book of Records, the scope of the walled complex is impossible to process while standing on the grounds. Prague Castle defies preconceived notions one may have regarding such a place, pushing the boundaries well beyond with towering cathedral ceilings, soaring defense towers, statue capped entrance gates,
museums, national galleries, and expansive courtyards and gardens.
At the front of the Castle entrance, musicians entertain tourists who have a spectacular elevated view of Prague, the city of spires. The stately grounds serve as more than a daily stage for musicians. The Burgrave Palace annually hosts the Summer Shakespeare Festival in the courtyard.
As the castle has been repeatedly damaged by incidents like the 1541 fire, revolts and wars, it has been refurbished many times over to suit the resident royalty. Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance are just some of the styles in evidence at the Castle today.
Old Town Square
Old Town is the Jewel in the crown of Prague’s most beautiful sights. Narrow, winding, cobblestone streets sweep away from the square over what once was a moat and wall bordering the district of Old Town. A Jan Hus statue juts up from the square's center, a focal point for diners eating at restaurants edging the square. Each street leading off the square has a flavor all it's own with different shops, churches and points of interest.
With so much to see, a good plan might be to chose one street a day and follow it wherever it may lead.
Old Town Square Astronomical Clock
One of the oldest and the only astronomical clock still ticking today this gem is anchored to the city hall tower, in the Old Town Square. Tourists gather around the clock to listen and see reports on the position of the sun and the moon, a display hourly with Apostle figurines moving above the golden roman numerals circling the clock, and the months of the year depicted in a calendar dial. When the clock has finished striking the hour, a costumed human trumpets the end of the display.
Two moving figurines flank each side of the clock, one to represent vanity, one for greed, one for death and the last for pleasure, all which were despised at the time of the clock’s creation
For a small fee, an elevator takes visitors to the top of the tower. Stepping out onto the narrow walkway, a breathtaking 360 degree view of the city surrounds you.
The face of the tower was the canvas for a light show in 2010, celebrating the clock’s 600th anniversary! Videos recounting the creation of the clock and events surrounding its history as well as the refurbishing necessary over the life of the clock, were displayed for audiences.
St. Nicholas Church Old Town Square
The noon day sun glints off the façade of this beautiful structure only steps from the center of the square. Dating back to 1273, the church acts as a place of worship in addition to a venue for classical concerts today. The interior was inspired by chapels of Paris and features magnificent arched frescos and a combination of gilded and dark wrought iron balconies.
The Muncipal House
Tourists can't resist spending time taking in the spectacular face of the Municipal House or the beauty within. Works of art by leading Czechs from another era decorate the interior halls and auditoriums. Irregularly scheduled tours of the interior include the dome ceilinged Smetana hall, the famous concert hall which houses its original organ.
Resembling the Champs Elysee in several ways, Wenceslas Square is more a very long boulevard than a square. The center of business in the New Town, it is named after Saint Wenceslas, the patron saint of Bohemia. The deeply slopping street ends with the ornate monument of Wenceslas on horseback, and the Czech National Museum.
The Wenceslas monument overlooks the many hotels, banks, restaurants, and shops lining both sides of the boulevard. The size of the square has adequately served for numerous public gatherings as well as religious and civil demonstrations. Notable events have taken place in the square such as the declaration of independence by the republic of Czechoslovakia in October of 1918. Another important historical event, the Velvet Revolution began in 1989 in the square, ending the Communist’s hold of Czechoslovakia.
Prague offers more points of interest that can be pictured and described in one article, but here is a partial list:
Franz Kafka Museum as well as his grave at the New Jewish Cemetary
The Dancing House, a collaboration betweenVlado Milunic and Frank Gehry with a roof top restaurant
The Old Jewish Quarter
Magic Lantern Theatre
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