One of the best-preserved cities in Europe. A riverbank that takes on a romantic spirit with elegant bridges. A unique silhouette with towers of medieval churches reaching to the sky. It does not take much effort to step into the Middle Ages in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, which is one of the most attractive cities in Central Europe along the Vltava River.
A little fairy-tale architecture, meandering cobblestone streets, unforgettable classical music to soothe your ears, and traditional cuisine… The city owes its picturesqueness to not suffering much damage during the Second World War. Today, by looking at the crowd of visitors on the streets, it is not difficult to comprehend that this city can compete with Rome, Paris, and London. Nevertheless, even the tourist confluence cannot take away the harmony of the 14th century stone bridge, the hill-dominating castle and the romantic river.
Paradise for wandering travelers
The city is not only about sight-seen. Prague’s art galleries may not have the charm of the Louvre, but this is the place to meet and appreciate Bohemian art. From the public spaces of the city to its galleries, from the Gothic touch of architecture to the baroque spirit, the art nouveau and the cubist styles are side by side in this city. One of Prague’s greatest pleasures is the potential for discovery. This place is a paradise for the traveler who chooses to wander around the narrow cobblestone streets and secret courtyards. The city always invites you to discover a little more. Just a few blocks from the Old Town Square, you will find ancient chapels, unexpected gardens, charming cafes and old-style bars that tourists have not yet discovered. It is an artistic scene that makes one to question the reality of the city, from the church domes shining in the sunset to the classical music, heard through the windows.
Heart of history
Let’s agree in advance; no complaining because of the crowd! Our suggestion is for the heart of the city and its oldest square Stare Mesto, which was an important commercial marketplace in the Middle Ages. Not to attract attention is impossible; it is one of the most famous squares in Europe and it is in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Its historical significance, buildings in the square, beautiful streets, baroque houses, musicians and places that allow people to breathe attract large crowds here. One more warning, you might get a stiff neck; the Jan Hus Memorial, dedicated to religious reformist Jan Hus; the Týn Church, enchanted by the towers illuminated in the evening; St. Nicholas Church and the Old Town Hall are located here. It is highly satisfying to watch the view of Prague from the top of the Astronomical Clock Tower (Orloj), the symbol of the city which is located on the Town Hall. All heads are turned up to watch the hourly one minute show of the oldest clock in the world, which is dated 1410 and is still working. The square is not only fun but it has been the witness of important historical events and tragedies such as coronations and executions. In the event that took place in 1422, Jan Želivský was decapitated. The 27 white crosses placed on the ground of the Old Town Hall mark the places where 27 Bohemian nobles were killed in 1621 by the Austrian Habsburgs.
Signature of the city
If Prague could sign, this would undoubtedly be the Charles Bridge (Karluv Most), built by the order of King Charles in 1357. The view of the old town side from the foot of the bridge is truly breathtaking; towers, domes, towers of St. Vitus Cathedral. The bridge connects the Old Town and Prague Castle. The perspective of this stunning landscape changes as you walk on the bridge. A series of baroque-style saint statues also contribute to this landscape by decorating the Gothic stones of the bridge. The most valuable sculpture for many art historians is the 12th-century statue of Saint Luitgarde by Mathias Braun. This statue belongs to the blind saint who kissed Jesus’ wounds. However, the most interesting group is the second from the last on the left, a work by Ferdinand Maxmilian Brokoff, dated 1714.
Aesthetic in every step
The ambiance of the bridge at night is completely different; St. Vitus Cathedral is illuminated by green color, Prague Castle by yellow color and Saint Nikolas Church by pink color. The buildings can be seen among the silhouettes of statues and Gothic towers. The best time to visit the bridge is at night. Although the crowds never completely break up, the atmosphere is different. Whether you listen to the musicians or have your portrait drawn with Prague Castle in the background, this is a must for your trip. The 9th-century castle is one of the largest castles in the world and is also referred to as the world’s largest ancient castle in the Guinness Book of World Records. St. Vitus Cathedral, which was completed in a long time from the 10th century to 1929, is one of the richest ornamented cathedrals in Central Europe. In this religious and cultural place of worship, which is of great importance for the Czech Republic, the 14th century mosaic of the Judgement Day, tombs of Saint Wenceslas and Charles IV, St. John’s silver baroque tomb, St. Wenceslas’s eye-catching chapel, and Alfons Mucha’s art nouveau stained glass are of great interest.
A creepy atmosphere… The Old Jewish Cemetery in the Jewish Quarter of Prague, also known as Josefov, is considered the largest and oldest Jewish cemetery in Europe. Jews living in Prague from the 15th century to 1787 were buried here. The available space problem in the Jewish ghetto caused these graves to stack up. There are actually thousands of other grave layers beneath the 12,000 gravestones that seem to have settled at unusual angles. Reliefs on the stones you see as you walk along the road between the tombstones represent the names and occupations of the dead. The oldest grave known here belongs to Avigdor Kara, the poet who died in 1439. It is not possible to access his grave but it is possible to see the original tombstone in the Maisel Synagogue. One of the graves belongs to the chief rabbi of Prague known as the wise Rabbi Loew, who died in 1609. Even today, pieces of papers filled with wishes stuck between the cracks of the tombstone of the rabbi are noticeable. Among the six synagogues in the region, the Old New Synagogue (1270) is the oldest synagogue in Europe that is still active. The Spanish Synagogue, built in 1864, was inspired by the Alhambra Palace.
Prague’s most popular building is undoubtedly also the most bizarre. Vlado Milunic and Canadian Frank Gehry are the architects of the Dancing House, which consists of two buildings that seem to dance together. Inspired by the American dancer and singer duo Fred Astaire (1899-1987) and Ginger Rogers (1911-1995), the architects designed the building in an empty riverfront in 1992. Completed in four years, the building is also known as Fred and Ginger. 99 concrete panels of different shapes and sizes were used to make the buildings look like they were dancing. The Ginger tower, made of glass, was built to look like it was wrapped around Fred, made of concrete. The small metal dome, placed on top of Fred to resemble hair, is called Medusa. At the top of the Dancing House is a restaurant where you can enjoy a view of Prague’s river and castle.