A Trip to Prague
Recently I have traveled through Europe with my family, and one of our first destinations was Prague. I grew up in Europe, but up until now I haven't been in Prague. So at this time I finally took the opportunity and flew into this wonderful city with the whole family.
We stayed four days there after landing, and in that time we did a lot. I found that a visitor can enjoy Prague in even one day, though three to four would be more desirable.
The city is very accessible and everywhere you look, there is so much history. Most of the roads are still cobblestone, like the old days. The buildings, dating from past centuries, look absolutely beautiful, like new, though showing off the old architecture.
I have to admit, I really admire the people of Prague. They were able to preserve their city, through WWII, as well as through a lot of other turmoil of the country, through the Prague Spring, and the splitting of the Czechoslovakia. The city's architecture is wonderful, everything is well maintained and very clean, and people are very friendly.
While there, I made a list of things to do for a visitor. Far from complete, I included some must see sites from my point of view. Hope you find some inspiration here.
Cross the Vltava River on Charles Bridge
Even if you just visit Prague for one day, you definitely need to see Charles Bridge, and walk on it. It is the most famous landmark of Prague, and attracts visitors by the thousands on any given day.
Two towers, The Old Town Bridge Tower and Judith Tower, protect the bridge.
Built in 1351, the bridge has an interesting history. Legend goes, that King Charles IV was a believer in numerology, and on the advice of his clergymen, he himself laid the first brick on July 9th, 1351, exactly at 5:31 in the morning. This date was chosen so when it is written as year, day, month, time, it makes a scale of the uneven numbers, going upwards and then downwards: 1 5 3 1 7 9 7 5 3 1.
It was the first stone bridge over the Vltava River, and built to replace the old Judith Bridge that had been destroyed. It took years to complete and the statues that adorn it today weren't added until the 1800s.
Today it is one of the major tourist attractions in Prague. Since there are no cars allowed on it, during the busiest times of the day it becomes a very popular walking avenue, bazaar for all street vendors, artists, and entertainers. as well as a place for beggars to make a buck.
Crossing the Vltava river on Charles Bridge is an absolutely enjoyable and fun thing to do in Prague.
Walk Through the Old Town Square
The old Town Square is another must-experience place if you are in Prague even just for a few hours.
With no cars, the few streets that lead to the central plaza are filled with shops and restaurants, and lots of people, especially on weekends. You hear just about every language there, since it is a popular destination.
The square itself is most spectacular though. The old town hall dominates it, but all the other buildings are absolutely beautiful, housing at museums and tourist shops.
On weekends, there is always something going on there. When we visited it, one day they had a huge dance show, where they invited everyone around to participate. Another day we watched different street artists. It is always a busy, entertaining place to be, an absolutely "do not miss this" place in Prague.
Watch the Astronomical Clock Strike the Hour
While in the old town square, you might as well stay until the closest hour and watch the astronomical clock on the tower strike. You won't be alone, hundreds of visitors gather in front of it a few minutes before waiting for it with their cameras and video cameras.
A spectacular puppet show takes place in the two windows above the clock, showing the procession of the twelve apostles.
The clock is very special. It not only shows the time, but also the day, month, phases of the moon and the sun (hence it is astronomical clock). It has figures on the sides, as well as around it, some of which move.
According to legend this clock was made by Master Hanus, who was blinded afterwards, so he would not be able to make a duplicate of it. Talk about payment for your services.
Indeed, there is no other clock like this in the world. So it is a definite must-see.
Go up in the Tower
While still there, you cannot leave until you go up into the tower. It is a very easy climb up, but if you don't feel up to it, there is a glass elevator that can take you up. No matter which route you choose, even the inside of the tower is pretty spectacular.
But it doesn't even compare to the view of the city from above.
View of the Old Town Square from the Tower of the old Town Hall
View of Prague from the Tower of Old Town Hall
Go up to Petrin Hill
Petrin Hill, covered with parks almost in its entirety, is in the very center of Prague. You can easily walk up to it through a wonderful lush green park. As close as it is to the center, it is very quiet and you feel like you are hundreds of miles away from the city.
If you dont' want to or can't walk uphill, the funicular can take you right to the top, where you can enjoy some quiet time and a beautiful view of the city.
Walk through Prague Castle
Prague Castle is really a castle complex. It made it into the Guinness Book of Records for the largest ancient castle in the world, occupying an area of about 70000 square meters (43.5 square miles). It really is a city in itself.
Built in the 9th century, Prague Castle includes within its walls four churches, a few palaces, a few towers and numerous other buildings.
Even just walking through it is a treat for the senses, especially for those who enjoy architectural wonders. You can find a few different architectural styles here, like the Gothic St Vitus Cathedral and the Romanesque basilica of St George.
Of all the architectural wonders in the Castle, the St Vitus Cathedral is a must see, both from outside as well as from the inside.
Visit Saint Vitus Cathedral
St Vitus Cathedral is the biggest and most important cathedral in the Czech Republic. Located within the Prague Castle, it is a one of the greatest example of Gothic Architecture.
The most interesting fact about it to me seems that the building of this cathedral took almost 600 years to complete. It is unbelievable, but maybe the reason it is as spectacular as it is. Looking at all of its features, it is easy to imagine this.
It started in 1344, during the reign of Charles IV. The first master builder was the French Matthias de Arras, who designed the layout of the building. However, the cathedral was far from being finished when he died. A new master builder, Peter Parler, was commissioned to continue the work. He didn't finish it either, since he was commissioned with numerous other projects, including Charles Bridge, and after his death his sons, and later other builders from his workshop continued his work. In the meantime, during the Hussite War, the building stopped altogether. The work started up again in 1844, but it didn't get finished until 1929, just about 600 years after it started.
Visiting it makes you appreciate all of the extraordinary work that went into it.
Stroll through Wenceslas Square
Wenceslas Square is really a boulevard, though called a square, since it has been the place for so many historical moments of Prague. Most recently, this was the place that all of the demonstrations took place during the Velvet Revolution in 1989.
The National Museum Building and the statue of Wenceslas dominate the area, as the most important landmarks of the square.
Stop by the Lennon Wall
In the 1980s the once normal wall, located in the Grand Priory Square on Mala Strana, has been filled with Lennon-inspired graffiti and lyrics form Beatles' songs. During the communist regime it was an outlet for people to write their grievances on this wall.
The wall is continuously changing, and the original Lennon portrait is barely visible under layers of paint. Even in the few weeks between the times we were there, we've seen a change.
You might see a street entertainer singing Beatles songs accompanying himself with a guitar. We've seen one. Though not extremely good, with his choice of songs he added to the atmosphere.
Walk Through the Narrowest Street in Prague
In the Lesser Town or Mala Strana, there is a really narrow street, only fitting one person at a time. There is a light on each side of it, to indicate in which direction you can walk. The street really doesn't lead anywhere other than to a restaurant, then you need to go back out, but it is an interesting place in Prague. We were told about it by a local, we walked by it before without knowing what it was.
Enjoy Your Trip
I have only mentioned a few things that we enjoyed doing in Prague, while there. The list is far from complete, but I tried to add the things that seem important or interesting to me. Hope I gave you some ideas, feel free to add some others of your own.