For years I have heard Prague is one of the most beautiful cities worldwide – known for its ornate and colorful architecture. As I came over the hill from the airport, it took only moments realize this was not an empty sales-pitch.
I have decided to break Prague’s highlights into two posts – so check next weeks post for part 2. There is just too much to share about this marvelous city and surrounding area.
Following are highlights that stood out for me during my five-day stay in Prague:
- Charles Bridge: Walking bridge connecting Old Town to the Prague Castle. Construction began in 1357, by King Charles IV. Most notable statue – St. John of Nepomuk: in 1383, Wenceslaus, King of the Romans, threw St. John into the river. Apparently the priest would not divulge to the King what the Queen had shared in the confessional. There were also rumors of a ‘deeper’ relationship between St. John and the Queen.
- Old Town: You are embedded into daily life along with locals – you eat where they eat, you drink where they drink, you shop where they shop. The opportunity to live in the beauty of the city is not lost on its people, but rather cherished as much as it is by the multitudes of tourists.
- Unfortunately the US has a tainted history connected to Prague. The US bombed the Old Town City Center in 1945, mistaking it for its actual target of Dresden, Germany – some 120 km away. It was a ‘blind attack’ meaning they relied on radar, which failed, and they hit Prague instead of Dresden – killing hundreds and decimating dozens of historical buildings.
- The ground level of the buildings in the background of the second picture actually sit a full floor above the original street level that existed during the 13th century when Old Town was in its prime.
- Country Cottage: King Ferdinand built this royal palace in 1500 showing Italian Renaissance architecture, but eventually decided it was not large enough to house his family of 12, so it was never finished. The palace sits near the Prague Castle at the end of the Royal Gardens. There is a fountain in the garden that sounds like it is singing if you put your ear very close to the running water.
- John Lennon Peace Wall: Turn the corner from baroque architecture that sits below Prague Castle, in Mala Strana, and there, tucked off a side street, is an ode to John Lennon. Lennon’s strong voice of peace was a hit in the Communist Prague. There was huge outpouring of grief when Lennon died, and people wrote their complaints and grievances on the wall. Amazing it survived in the Communist regime.
- The Pub: Czech’s also love their beer! There is a bar called ‘The Pub’ where each table has four beer taps. There is a large screen that shows the stats for an ongoing contest for beer consumption between other tables, other Pub bars across the city, across the country and across Europe.
What to do: Bring good walking shoes! The city has so much to see and do. The above ground tram system and subway system are well laid out. But the city is very walkable and allows you to see all the intricate detailing of all the beautiful buildings along winding cobblestone streets taking you to one hidden treasure after another. Take the tram up the hillside near the Castle and across the river – and walk back down the path. Rent a paddle boat and spend a lazy hour floating along the Vltava River and see Prague from a different vantage point. Next week I’ll give you a tour of some of the Czech Republic castles.