To learn about Prague, you must simply go to Prague!
I recently asked a friend about her favourite things to do and see in Prague. She started gushing over the amazing variety of beers and the delicious Czech food, the geek-essential architectural and historical monuments, the riverside views and the nightlife… Flash-forward two hours later, she’s still talking and I’m at an utter loss of what to write…an article or a book…?
My initial intention had been to capture all the magnificence of Prague in one short piece but it quickly became apparent that this is a city that simply cannot be done justice by some 500 words. So I decided to settle for attempting to at least give you a glimpse of Prague’s quintessence.
The Ancient Capital Of Bohemia and its Bohemian spirit
Prague was founded during the Romanesque time and persevered through the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque, through the world wars and the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, to present day as the Capital city of the Check Republic and the 14th largest city in the European Union.
It is one of those places, so vibe-rich that every cobblestone, every street corner exudes culture. Its city centre is a living map of the architectural styles of the different time periods it’s lived through. Its culture is laid-back, a celebration of life unashamedly seeking to elicit joy and satisfaction whenever possible!
Prague's Old Town Square is the place to start with when familiarising yourself with the local spirit. The place is highly touristy, so always busy, but it houses hundreds of little cafes and restaurants serving updated traditional cuisine and famed Czech beers! As a whole, Prague has an enviable entertainment vibe: the city boasts many jazz bars, nightclubs and hip cafes and restaurants. Riverside parties are a frequent occurrence during the summer and there’s a wine revival happening in Prague! And if their wine is anything like their beer then you know it’s good!
But of course, the centrepiece of Prague’s magnetism is its rich history and stunning architecture!
Prague Castle, situated on the left bank of Vltava River, is the largest ancient castle in the world! It houses a number of historical buildings and cultural treasures. Over the centuries, the different rulers that resided there expanded the castle by building additional structures. Today it is the official residence of the President of the Czech Republic.
The Jewish Quarter stands as a testimony of the history of Prague’s Jewish people. In the 13th century Jewish people were ordered to leave their homes and populate one designated area. The buildings in the Quarter survived many reconstructions over the centuries and the whole complex remains as the biggest monument to Jewish History. During Nazi occupation, many Jewish artefacts were shipped there and today, alongside the other historical monuments, it forms the famed Jewish Museum complex.
Charles Bridge stretches over the Vltava River and is one of the most popular and loved sights in Prague! The bridge was built in the 13th century and was known, for a very long time, as Stone Bridge, becoming Charles Bridge in the 19th century. Lining the bridge are 30 baroque statues. Legend has it that if you rub the plaque of the most famous one, that of St John of Nepomuk, you’ll go back to Prague.
St Vitus Cathedral took over 600 years to build! It holds century-old religious monuments and renowned murals. The building bears Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance architectural elements as architects from different eras worked towards its completion. The cathedral is a true architectural jigsaw masterpiece!
The Astronomical Tower is a must-see! The beautiful symbolism-rich clock on the tower is going to be out of action for a few months whilst the tower undergoes renovations but this shouldn’t stop you from going to see it! The real magic of it hides in the figures and graphics that adorn it: death, the 12 apostles, vanity, greed, pagan invasion. So it may not tell you the time this spring but it will certainly tell you a story.
I can go on and on but I can merely scratch the surface here! To learn about Prague, you must simply go to Prague!
To feel the spirit of Prague, give into its healthy hedonism of drinking famous craft beers by the river, visiting jazz clubs and feasting on Czech food. All played out against the hauntingly beautiful décor of the architectural masterpiece that this city is! Explore it! You simply MUST!
And before you go home – don’t forget to rub that metal plaque on Charles Bridge. It will bring you luck and solidify your return to Prague!