Rather than wandering haphazardly through the sights of the Czech capital or taking an organised tour, we decided to follow the legacy of the famous King Charles IV – who was born almost exactly 700 years ago.
Sounds a bit lame, we know: but Charles IV is considered the father of the Czech nation and his fingerprints are all over Prague.
Firstly, see a quick video summary of how we did it.
Stone Bell House
Photo courtesy Imani and Wikimedia
Right in the heart of Prague, in the Old Town Square, we found our way to this splendid Early Gothic house, dating to the 13th Century, where the future sovereign was believed born on May 14 in 1316.
This is one of the most interesting medieval buildings in Prague. It now belongs to the City Gallery and various exhibitions and concerts are held there.
There is a replica of the original stone bell on the corner of the building.
According to Prague folklore, milk and wine were mixed with the mortar when this beautiful 16-pillar sandstone bridge was built in 1357. The 518 metre bridge is one of the great iconic structures of Prague – and we thoroughly recommend a visit to its museum.
Old Town Bridge Tower
As we continued on the King Charles IV trail, we marvelled at this majestic Gothic Tower that stands at the Old Town side of the Charles Bridge. Don’t miss the striking statues that include the good king ; his son Wenceslas IV; and Saint Vitus, the Patron saint of Prague Cathedral.
And, while looking at statues, we gawked at the Monument to Charles IV, located in this picturesque square. The statue was made in 1848, to mark the 500 year anniversary of the foundation of Prague’s Charles University – the first in central Europe.
Charles is shown leaning on his sword and holding the foundation charter of the university.
Prague Castle and St Vitus Cathedral
One of the greatest landmarks of Prague, the castle – which attracts huge crowds of visitors almost every day – owes much to Charles IV, who restored an old royal palace to its former glory.
St Vitus Cathedral is one of the world’s most astonishing Gothic structures, featuring awesome stained-glass windows.
Particularly popular with visitors is the Chapel of St Wenceslas, long considered the heart and soul of the cathedral.
A door in the chapel is said to lead to the Crown Chamber that houses the Czech crown jewels.
New Town monuments
No journey in the footsteps of the legendary King Charles IV would be complete without wandering around Prague’s New Town.
In 1348, the king started the construction of this eye-opening section of Prague, centred around Charles Square, Karlstein Castle and the Benedictine monastery.
Prague is truly one of the most fascinating of European cities, with its cobblestone streets leading from one magnificent sight to another (hence the often huge crowds of tourists in the peak summer months)
The city also boasts a particularly rich history and we were pleased to follow the legacy of its famous King Charles IV as an ideal way of looking back on that past. Try it sometime.