Prague, nicknamed the “City of a Hundred Spires” is known for its Old Town Square and its architecture. From colorful Baroque buildings and Gothic churches, to the famous medieval Astronomical Clock – complete with an animated hourly show – to the pedestrian only Charles Bridge lined with statues of Catholic saints, Prague is a city that one can easily spend 3-5 days exploring. Here are ten things to do while in Prague.
1. Charles Bridge – The Charles Bridge is a landmark stone Gothic bridge that links Prague’s Old Town with the New Town. This historic bridge crosses the Vltava river and is a wonderful spot for photos, especially early morning and during sunset. There is a tower that stands on each end of the bridge and both can be climbed for stunning views of Prague and the bridge from above. The bridge gets crowded in the day time with local artists, souvenir stands and musicians.
2. Prague Castle – Prague Castle is an enormous complex featuring buildings from the Roman and Gothic styles to the 20thcentury. Its three courtyards and buildings cover over 18 acres so be prepared to do a lot of walking. The castle was founded around 880 and starting in the 10thcentury served as the seat of the Czech princes and later kings, and the seat of the Prague bishop. Today the castle serves as the seat of the Czech president and the most important National Cultural Monument of the Czech Republic. A number of priceless art relics, historical documents, and the Czech Crown Jewels are stored here.
3. Prague Astronomical Clock – The medieval tower clock offers a fascinating mechanical performance which in the Middle Ages was considered one of the wonders of the world. For 600 years, the clock has been one of the greatest treasures of the city and is located at the southern side of the Old Town Hall Tower. When the clock strikes the hour (from 9:00am-11:00pm), the procession of the Twelve Apostles sets in motion. The clock consists of different parts – such as a calendar and an astronomical desk or the mechanism of twelve apostles which sets them in motion. The procession can be viewed from the Old Town Square – get there early to secure a spot.
4. St. Vitus Cathedral – The cathedral is a Gothic resting place for saints including Vitus as well as the state treasury. Built over 600 years, this cathedral is one of the most richly endowed cathedrals in central Europe. It houses treasures ranging from the 14thcentury mosaic of the Last Judgement, to the baroque silver tomb of St John of Nepomuck, the ornate chapel of St Wenceslas and the art nouveau stained glass by Alfons Mucha.
5. The Old Town – Prague’s old town draws a large number of visitors as it houses carefully preserved buildings and monuments like the Church of our Lady in front of Tyn, the City Hall, and the Baroque Church St. Nicolas. The City Hall dates back to 1338 and in 1410 the Astronomical Clock was added to the hall. The City Hall is also now a famous spot for marriages and if you climb the tower you can enjoy breathtaking views of the square and you’ll understand why Prague is called the city of 1000 spires.
6. The Church of our Lady before Tyn – This Gothic church from the mid 14thcentury has one of the most elaborate interiors in the Czech Republic – its centerpiece is the portrayal of the rise of Virgin Mary to heaven. The two signature towers are not identical as one of them is more elaborate and wider and said to represent the stronger part of the family, the man.
7. Prague Dancing House – While Prague is known for its historical sights, amongst the modern ones is the Dancing House. This is an original building resembling and inspired by two dancers – Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Known as the Dancing House, the National Nederlanden Building is one of the most internationally renowned piece of post-1989 Czech architecture. What you might now know is that the sightseeing terrace on top provides a breathtaking panorama of Prague.
8. The Golden Lane – The Golden lane originated after the construction of a new northern wall of the Castle. This lane used to be inhabited by defenders of the Castle, servants or goldsmiths and the Castle marksmen. The tiny houses were carefully preserved and from 1916-1917 house no. 22 was inhabited by the famous writer, Franz Kafka. The name of this lane is derived from goldsmiths who used to live here, as can be seen in the house No. 15.
9. Lennon Wall – The John Lennon Wall is located in Mala Strana remains the only place in the city where graffiti is legal. Post 1948, the wall was used mainly for people protesting the communist takeover and was largely all text. In the 1960’s it became known as the “Crying Wall” and associated still with protests/texts and art. With the murder of John Lennon in 1980 however, the wall became the obvious place for expressing grief and protest against his death.
10. St. Nicholas Church – This church is located in Mala Strana and is a must visit for its stunning baroque architecture, frescoes and classical sculptures. The site of the church itself dates back to the 11thcentury although the construction wasn’t completed until 1755. The largest fresco in Europe is said to be here as well as an organ system with more than 4,000 pipes that was once played by Mozart. The church also hosts about 200 concerts per year.
Prague is an amazing Eastern European city, full of beauty, history, and breathtaking architecture. Join Acanela on our next Expedition to this must-see European destination!
Article written by: Preethi Chandrasekhar