Prague, Czech Republic

25 January 2020 / Eastern Europe / Czech Republic

PRAGUE CASTLE, CZECH REPUBLIC

Ahh, Prague … The “City of a Hundred Spires”! What is there not to like about Prague? From its Old Town Square, cobbled streets, horse drawn carriages, beautiful architecture to the Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge spanning the Vitava River – it is truly one of Europe’s finest cities. We doubt you could throw a stone in Prague – or the entire Czech Republic – without hitting something historical!

Formerly known as Czechoslovakia, a part of the communist Eastern Bloc, the Czech Republic (also referred to as Czechia) and Slovakia once again became independent sovereign states following the peaceful Velvet Revolution and the fall of the Soviet Union. Historically known as Bohemia, the Czech Republic of today ranks the 9th safest and most peaceful country in the world.

Although it is a part of the European Union, the Czech Republic never adopted the Euro rather electing to stay on its own currency, the Czech Koruna, making it a very affordable destination. However, this may not last much longer since the Czech Republic is legally bound as part of the EU to adopt the euro currency sometime in the future.

Prague is truly a walking city and one of the best apps we have found to help us get around is Mapy.cz, a free app available only on the App Store for iPhones and iPads. It is available in 16 languages and will guide you easily around the city.

Charles Bridge

One of the best known landmarks in Prague, the Charles Bridge is typically the first destination visited by tourist.

The Staroměstská věž Old Town Bridge Tower

Spanning the Vitava River, the Charles Bridge connects the Old Town with the Lesser Town. Construction began in 1357 under a commission by the Czech King and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV.

On each end of the Bridge are two towers, the Staroměstská věž on the Old Town side and the Malostranská věž on the Lesser Town side.

Statue of the Holy Crucifix and Calvary

On the Bridge itself are 30 Baroque statues, one of which is the statue of The Crucifix and Calvary added to the Bridge in the 17th century.

Prague’s Old Town Square

Prague’s Old Town Square at night
Prague’s Old Town Hall & Tower
Jan Has Monument

Founded in the 12th century, Prague’s Old Town Square is the most significant square in the city. Dominated by the Jan Jus monument, it is surrounded by the Old Town Hall, the Church of Our Lady Before Týn, St. Nicholas, The Rococo Kinský Palace, the Gothic House, numerous shops and restaurants.

Although a popular attraction, you will find few locals who can afford the pricey shops or eating establishments that are directly on the Square. Venture a few steps down the side streets and experience where the locals shop and eat.

Astronomical Clock

The Riva Promenade seen at night

Located at the southern side of the Old Town Tower, this 600 year old medieval clock is one of the oldest functional astronomical clocks in the world. In addition to telling the time, it shows astronomical and zodiac information, the relative positions of the Sun and Moon, as well as a theatrical display of the twelve apostles that appear every hour making it one of Prague’s most popular landmarks.

Prague Castle

Prague Castle overlooking the Golden Lane and Vitava River

One of the largest complexes in the world, the Prague Castle has stood above the city for more than a thousand years. Constructed in the 9th century, it was the seat of the Bohemian kings and in later years became the official residence of Czech presidents.

Literally a city within a city, the Castle spans some 45 hectares (110 acres) and encompasses the royal palaces, government offices, St. Vitus Cathedral, fortifications, courtyards and gardens.

St. Vitus Cathedral

St. Vitus Cathedral
St. Vitus Cathedral Sanctuary

Founded in 1344 with construction taking almost 600 years, St. Vitus Cathedral is the center piece of the Prague Castle. The Cathedral contains the crypts of Czech kings, the tomb of St. Wenceslas, the Crown Chamber and Crown Jewels. If you’re in great shape, climb the 287 narrow, winding steps of the Cathedral’s 90m high Great South Tower for a panoramic view of the City below!

Strahov Library

The Strahov Monastery, founded in 1140, contains one of the most valuable and best preserved historical libraries in the world, the Strahov Library. Consisting of over 18,000 books, the library also features a unique desk with a compilation wheel used in compiling texts.

Baroque Theological Hall, Strahov Library

Established around 1673, the Baroque Theological Hall‘s ceiling stucco decorations were created by Giovanni Dominik Orsi, the Library’s architect with the ceiling fresco created by Siard Nosecký.

Prague’s Street Art

A walk down any street or alleyway and you will be met with some form of artwork. From beautiful museums, centuries old statues, elegant interiors of the myriad of cathedrals that dot the city, to whimsical sculptures and artwork, Prague’s art scene will not disappoint!

Statue of Kafka

Created by the artist David Černý, the 11m tall metal rotating sculpture of the head of Czech writer Frank Kafka is a popular attraction. Weighing some 39 tons, the 42 stainless steel mobile tiers start as a maze that rotate to align perfectly into a head. It is located next to the Quadrio Centre and directly above the Národní třída metro station.

Žižkov Television Tower

Standing 216m high, the Žižkov Television Tower remains controversial among Prague’s residents. Construction began in 1985 under the communist rule, but was not completed until 1992. One of the first things visitors will notice – besides the height – are the babies climbing up the Tower. The unusual artwork is a creation of David Černý, the artist known for the rotating Statue of Kafka. Be sure to take the lift to the Observation Deck which is located some 100m up and provides a spectacular panoramic view of Prague, the Old Town and the Prague Castle.

Prague Christmas Market

Christmas Market on Prague’s Old Town Square

Nothing says Christmas quite like being in the historical capital of Bohemia! Open from 26 November to 6 January, the annual Christmas Markets take place at Prague’s Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square, the Prague Castle and St. George’s Basillica.

Food vendors are popular at Prague’s Christmas Markets
A blacksmith at work forging medieval weapons
A street performer in Prague, Czech Republic entertains tourists with bubbles

Bringing locals and tourists together, the Christmas Markets offer a little bit of everything to put you in the Christmas Spirit with decorative souvenirs, hams roasted on spits, klobása (barbequed sausage), trdelník (sugar coated pastry), gingerbread and so much more!

Traversing The City

While the Old Town, New Town and Lessor Town sectors of Prague are known for walkability, there are times when another form of transportation will be needed. These are our recommendations:

Prague Metro

A Prague Metro Station

The Prague Metro is a very efficient rapid transit system that is both convenient and inexpensive. Consisting of three color-coded lines (Green Line A; Yellow Line B and Red Line C).

The rapid transit system operates from 5am to midnight, seven days a week. Ask the front desk, concierge or host at your hotel/Airbnb to show which lines to take to the sites you want to visit.

Taxis/UBER

While taxis (both licensed and unlicensed) are plentiful in Prague, we suggest you never flag down a taxi on the street, rather find a taxi stand. Be sure to take note of the driver’s name and the 40/28/6 tariff is visible on the outside of the taxi representing the tariffs: CZK40 when you get in; CZK28 per kilometer; and CZK6 waiting time per minute. UBER also operates in Prague and is a good option, however, be aware that most European cars are small and will not accommodate a lot of luggage. If booking a taxi or UBER to the airport or train station, be sure to request a large car or van in advance.

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Published by Capturing The Art Of Living

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