Prague will always have a special place in my heart as my my first full solo trip to Prague to a country I wasn’t already familiar with for a weekend. It was new and fresh for me as it was my first Eastern European country I had ever visited. I absolutely fell in love with the hundreds of spires and towers throughout the entire town. Now that I am only a few hours away from Prague, Hans and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to catch the first train to Prague for the weekend!
We took advantage of Regensburg’s constant special offer to go from Regensburg to Prague and back for only 42euros a person! Hans had never been before so I kind of got to play tour guide. What made this trip special right from the beginning was staying on a boat hotel right in the heart of Prague! It was so surreal to wake up on a boat floating on the Vltava River with swans swimming down the river right out of our window!
We couldn’t figure out the Prague bus system from the Main Train station quickly and I really hate looking like a lost tourist. So we decided to take a taxi since it was 9pm or later already. Don’t be alarmed though if a taxi driver approaches you INSIDE of the train station and then leads you to his car. I know, I was freaking out, but he was a real friendly chap. And there is no set price for the taxi. Not really.
By far one of the coolest churches I have ever seen is the #Church of our Lady #Tyn in #Prague in the #mainsquare. The best view to be had is to go to the top of the #astronomicalclock #tower! We happened to be there for the #SpringMarket which I had never seen before. #CzechRepublic #Czech #Prag #Praha #travel #traveltheworld #travelgram #instatravel #traveling #travelphotography #travelawesome #travelabout #BBCTravel #spring #foggyday #panoramic #panoramicviews
Staying on the boat in the heart of Prague made it real easy to reach the city center. So we started first with the Old Town Square (Staré Město) and Josefov, which is one of the most beautiful squares I have ever seen. Lots of cafes surround the square that is dominated by Church of Our Lady Before Tyn which was built in 1365 and eventually taken over by the Jesuits who renovated it with its present Gothic style.
Opposite the Church of Our Lady Tyn is the famous Old Town Hall with its Astronomical Clock Tower. Prague was no exception to the damage inflicted during the bombing raids during WWII, however, Prague did manage less damage than many other cities. To the left of the tower, you can purchase a ticket to take an elevator up or walk up the clock tower. I highly suggest doing it because it offers some of the best views of Prague! The clock was installed in 1410 making it the third oldest clock in the world!
While we waited for our Hop On Hop Off bus, we stood opposite the Municipal House which is Prague’s most prominent Art Nouveau building. To the left of the building is the Powder Tower. It is one of the original 13 city gates dating back to 1475. During the 17th century, this tower held gun powder, hence the new name.
Not far from here is a small street. I have no idea what the name is, but its just simply beautiful with two arches bridges connecting two buildings. They remind me of the Bridge of Sighs in Venice or Oxford, but it’s pretty cool that there are two back to back which makes for a great picture!
Next we hit up the Prague Castle! Prague castle sits perched atop a hill overlooking the Old Town, on the opposite side of the river called Hradčany and Lesser Town (Malá Strana). The Prague Castle doesn’t look like a normal castle from afar, but up close you can see how the castle was formed around the St. Vitus’s Cathedral.
Prague Castle was founded in 880 AD and is listed in the Guiness World Records as the largest ancient castle in the world. You can still watch the changing of the guards hourly. We arrived right at noon to watch the changing of the guards which includes a banner exchange as well. There is no Royal Family that lives at the castle anymore. The President of the Czech Republic has an office here though.
The first time I visited the St. Vitus’s Cathedral, I didn’t remember waiting in a long line to get in, nor having to pay to see the whole inside of the cathedral. You can still go in but only stand in the center of the church now crammed against lots of other tourists. The cathedral was built in 1344 and did not finish for another 600 years!
We decided to stroll back down the mountain from the castle, but first not without stopping for a Czech beer with a small garden/vineyard over looking Prague. Once we made it back down the hill, we stopped and checked out Church of St. Nicholas. Be careful! There are two churches of St. Nicholas! One is on the Malá Strana side with the castle, and the other is in the Old Town. Inside this church, you can climb up some stairs and have a look down on the church instead of up by standing on the second floor. That was the first time I’ve ever done that! The belfry tower you can also climb to get a good view of the city, but we didn’t do this.
To come back into the Old Town you have to cross the famous Charles Bridge. It was the only bridge to cross the Vltava River until 1741. The bridge is lines with statues but unfortunately many of them are copies due to wear and tear. Towards the end of the bridge on the Staré Město (Old Town) side of the bridge, there is a statue of St. John Nepomuk from 1683. This statue has been polished where thousands of people have touched the statue for good luck.
Both ends of the Charles Bridge has a tower. On the Staré Město side, the tower is called the Staré Město Bridge Tower and on the other side it is called the Malá Strana Bridge Tower. Staré Město Bridge Tower allows you to climb to the top of the tower for fantastic views of the bridge.
Not far from the bridge, on the Malá Strana side of Prague, there is a wall that is famous for graffiti. Not just any graffiti, but artwork dedicated to John Lennon, love, peace and happiness. It’s rather hard to find as it’s just a random wall. They say that during the Communist era, the wall appeared after the assassination of John Lennon. It was painted white again by the Police only to be replaced the following day by more poems, drawings and flowers. Ever since, the wall has stayed as a tribute memorial that represents a symbol of global ideals that everyone wished to have, peace, love and happiness!
Back in the Old Town Square, there is another church also called The Church of St. Nicholas. Unfortunately, we never got the chance to go in because of strange hours. But there is a table that sits at the top of the stairs where you can buy an entrance ticket or just take a quick peek inside.
Definitely sit down and have a meal at one of the restaurants that surrounds the Old Town Square. It is a tourist destination so prices are a bit higher, but thanks to the currency exchange, its actually pretty cheap. Be warned though it can get loud with all the passing tourists and horse carriages. But it is well worth the beautiful atmosphere to sit outside and look upon the town square.
We decided to get up and walk around the Jewish Quarter which was just feet from our hotel. We first saw the Old-New Synagogue, but only from the outside. When we entered the Synagogue a lady yelled at us. No idea why. It was originally called the New Synagogue until a newer one was built and this became the Old-New Synagogue. This one was built around 1270 and is still a religious center for the Jews of Prague.
Then there is the Old Jewish Cemetery which was the only site for over 300 years where Jewish people were allowed to be buried. It was founded in 1478 and has up to 12 layers of burials and over 12,000 gravestones crammed into this tiny area. The last burial took place in 1787. Unfortunately it was very expensive to go in, so we only got a peek from the outside.
I refused to leave Prague without seeing one of the two beautiful libraries that Prague has to offer. One is on the castle side called the Stahov Monastery and the other is called the Klementinum (Clementinum). So we went to the Klementinum on the Old Town. The only way to see the beautiful library is to do a guided tour which shows you the Chapel of Mirrors and look at some astronomical objects before climbing the tower which also shows you fantastic views of the city and the castle. After climbing back down the tower, you then can finally see the library. You are not allowed to go in the library nor take pictures, but I was naughty and when the tour guide walked away, I snapped a quick picture!
Next we decided to grab our suitcases and make our way back to the train station via Wenceslas Square and the State Opera. This area of town is called Nové Město which means “New Town”. Wenceslas Square is a long, skinny square that is dominated by the National Museum at the top of the hill. The square is lines with more shops and restaurants. Standing in front of the National Museum is the Wencelas Monument. This square has seen its fair share of history, which saw the student Jan Palach burn himself to death in 1969 and also the protest against police brutality in 1989 which led to the beginning of the Velvet Revolution.
What was the best thing you did in Prague that you would recommend?
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