Category: Prague

A different way of seeing Prague

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 just over 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

450px-Dům_U_Kamenného_zvonu

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.

Charles Bridge

prague-charles-bridge-czech-republic-45131032

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.

Krizovnicke Square

IMG_0664

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

Unknown

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

IMG_0179

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.

 

 

 

Prague continues as tourist hotspot

IMG_0160It’s not hard to see why Prague is now the fifth most popular tourist drawcard in Europe.

The capital and biggest city of the Czech Republic boasts a heady mix of history, architecture, scenery, culture and vibrancy.

Latest figures from Euromonitors show that Prague has risen another spot on the list of most-visited European cities.

Only London, Paris, Istanbul and Rome draw more tourists.

Prague is now the 21st most-visited city in the world – at list that is headed by Asian giant, Hong Kong.

There’s plenty of history

Wrapped around the Vltava River, Prague has about 1.3 million people, while a further 700,000 live in the surrounds.

Prague is believed to have been founded in the 8th Century, but settlement in the general area apparently dates to the Paleolithic age.IMG_0177

The various styles of city buildings illustrate this rich history and the old heart of Prague is included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

And wonderful culture

Famous cultural attractions include Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge, Old Town Square, the Jewish Quarter, the Lennon Wall and Petřín hill.

The city has become so popular with travellers that these attractions often attract big crowds, especially during Prague’s traditionally dry and sunny summers.

IMG_0164At that time of year, it’s advisable and extremely rewarding to hit the streets early when visiting the city’s ‘hot spots’.

Also popular are the city’s 10 or more major museums, along with theatres, galleries, cinemas, restaurants and a thriving bar scene.

The 45 hectare (111 acre) Prague Zoo, in the city’s northern suburbs, has a world-wide reputation and is well worth a visit. The zoo contains more than 4,000 animals.

Shop till you drop

The influx of visitors and the development of a consumer economy has made Prague a shopper’s delight.

IMG_0153Shopping malls abound, containing most of the big name stores.

If you want something distinctly Czech, you can find some of the world’s best crystal and glass and a huge range of garnets for jewellery hunters.

Paintings can be purchased from street artists and from the many galleries.

Try the amber liquid

After a busy day of sight-seeing or shopping, there are few better places than Prague to relax with a fine ale.  Czech beer is up there with the best and there is certainly no shortage of it in the capital city.

City transport is easyIMG_0175

Getting around Prague is relatively easy.

The city has a modern metro, complemented by a tramway system, buses and a furnicular railway to Petrin hill.

Arriving by train or plane

International flights  arrive and leave from Vaclav Havel Prague Airport, about 17 kilometres or 30 minutes north of the city.

The airport is serviced by public buses, a shuttle and taxis.

IMG_0158There are good train links between Prague and neighbouring capitals.

A trip from Berlin or Vienna is said to take about five hours and there is an overnight train link with Paris.

A grand city

All in all, Prague is a wonderful blend of romantic history and contemporary buzz – a grand city of spires that will live long in the memory.