Visiting any new place can be a daunting task; there are so many unique historic and cultural things that make up a city, it can be hard to decide where to go, what to see, and how to devote your time. This 'city guide' is designed to take some of the anxiety out of your travels so you can truly enjoy your destination and all it has to offer.
Praha, as Prague is known locally, is nestled in Bohemia, a region of the Czech Republic just west of its center; the Vltava River, which runs north to south, bisects Prague. This relatively small capital city packs a huge historical punch.
Prague has come a long way since the days of Czechoslovakia, but still manages to preserve its history for generations to come.
It's an enchanting place full of Gothic spires and pastel houses. Walking around, you feel like you are in a fairy tale. The cobblestone sidewalks are hand laid and the streets are narrow and windy with impossibly long names, making it almost certain you'll get lost at least once. Yet, that will just give you more of a chance to explore the nooks and crannies of this city that time forgot.
Old Town Square is one of two main squares in the city center (the other is Wenceslas Square, a 5-10 minute walk away). With its ancient buildings, imposing statues and magnificent churches, this is one of the most beautiful historical spots in Europe. The Old Town Square's most notable sights are the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn, the Old Town Hall Tower & Astronomical Clock and the stunning St. Nicholas Church.
Clock Tower- The clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the only one still working. In October 2010, it celebrated its 600th birthday. Every hour on the hour, the clock strikes and comes to life for a short show with puppets, trumpets and skeletons. There is always a steady stream of tourists milling around the clock, so if you want to see the show (which you should!) make sure to get there 5-10 minutes early. Also, beware of pick pockets here- the hordes of tourists make it almost too easy for them.
The Church of Our Lady Before Tyn- or Tyn Church, dominates one side of the Old Town Square. The two spires of this powerful looking Gothic church (with a Baroque interior) can be seen from all over Prague. Tyn Church is impressive by day, striking by night, and just as aweing on the inside. Typical of Gothic architecture, the two spires aren't symmetrical. Instead, they represent both the masculine and feminine sides of the world.
Prague Castle is the biggest ancient castle in the world. Situated on the top of a hill across the river, on a clear day, visitors can see all of Old Town. The history of the castle stretches back to the 9th century (870). The Castle includes Gothic St Vitus Cathedral, Romanesque Basilica of St. George, a monastery and several palaces, gardens and defense towers. Also, stick around for the changing of the guard ceremony or try to get one to crack a smile.
St. Vitus Cathedral is one of the oldest (and one of the most beautiful) edifices in Europe. Construction started in 1344 and lasted 6 centuries, with the building completed between 1873 and 1929. It represents virtually every architectural style of the last millennium. This magnificent Gothic Cathedral is within the castle walls and is included in both tours of the castle, but visitors can stand in the back to admire the church for free.
John Lennon wall - After John Lennon was murdered in 1980, graffiti about him appeared on this wall as a protest against the Communist regime that still ruled Czechoslovakia, banning western pop music. The was wall painted over many times by the government, but artists kept coming back. After the fall of Communism in 1989, the wall's art is here to stay. Visitors can sign their name or leave a tribute to the late-great Lennon.
Lover's lock Bridge- A short walk from the Lennon Wall leads you to the Lover's Lock Bridge. Monuments like this have cropped up all over Europe and this small bridge is no different- covered in colorful padlocks left by couples locking them onto the bridge and joining them together for eternity. You and your soul mate can declare your eternal love as you solemnly throw your key into the water below.
TV tower or climb some babies- The Žižkov Television Tower was built between 1985 and 1992. Like many examples of communist-era architecture in Central and Eastern Europe, the tower was generally resented by the local inhabitants. Aside from that, it really is ugly and is by far the tallest thing in Prague which sort of ruins the skyline. In 2000, sculptures by Czech artist David ?erný of crawling babies were attached to the tower's pillars. If you go to Kampa Park (the same park as the Lennon Wall and Lover's Lock), you'll see some of the huge, faceless, bronze babies crawling around.
Jewish Quarter- During Prague's occupation, this area was separated from the Old Town by walls and gates. It is the only Central European Jewish Town-Quarter that survived the holocaust during WWII. It contains the Prague Jewish Museum, The Old-New Synagogue, Maisel Synagogue and the Old Jewish Cemetery. The cemetery here dates from the 5th century and is behind the synagogue. Bodies were buried here in layers because of a lack of space. There are up to 12 layers and over 12,000 Jewish graves.
Charles Bridge is Prague's oldest bridge crossing the Vltava River, with construction beginning in 1357 and finishing sometime in the 15th century. The bridge connects Old Town and Lesser Town and has become a pedestrian zone. What makes the bridge special, are the 30 statues lining the edge of famous Czech leaders, saints and artists dating back to 1706. The bridge is packed with people all day long, and is a place where street musicians play and souvenirs are sold.
Petrin Hill is a hill in the center of Prague. It rises some 130m above the left bank of the Vltava River. The hill, almost entirely covered with parks, is a favorite recreational area for the inhabitants of Prague. The observation tower, which looks like a small version of Paris' Eiffel Tower, offers a beautiful panoramic view of the city. Bring your camera!
Dancing House was constructed in 1996. It is not a typical building in Prague and many locals were upset that the ultra-modern design broke up the otherwise fairytale buildings. The building was designed by Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunic in cooperation with Frank Gehry and is noted for its lack of symmetry and curved lines. Dancing House has other funny names - Drunk house or Fred and Ginger- in reference to the famous couple.
Drink the beer (it really is cheaper than water)- Czech beer is world famous. Czech Republic is the No. 1 beer drinking nation on the planet, with an annual per capita consummation of 156 liters. Beer is served almost everywhere and is drunk by everyone in Prague. It's really never too early to have a beer here and it's some of the best tasting and cheapest beer you will find anywhere. The best known Czech beer is the original Pils beer, Pilsner Urquell. And if you love beer, be sure to visit the beer factory, where you can pour your own Pilsner from a tap at your table. Don't let all this history fool you, the Czech's know how to have a good time!
To start planning your trip today, visit http://www.pragueexperience.com/