Old Town Square
Once we were dropped back, we explored the vibrant old town square and the surrounding markets. Mid day, the old town is a heavily crowded destination. Cluttered with tourists are the lovely boutique shops, street performers, high-end Italian restaurants, coffee shops and the astronomical clock. As street performers entertained, the crowd got extremely excited at the sound of the clock reaching the hour mark, a vastly popular sight that should definitely be overlooked.
St. Vitus Cathedral
For a great number of people, St Vitus Cathedral is the Prague Castle, except for the fact that it is not. It is but an extremely vital part of the Castle complex. This 14th Century Cathedral was built for over 600 years and is a cultural and religious symbol of the Czech Republic. Bestowed with all the beauty and luxuriance of the world, the foundation stone for St Vitus was laid by Emperor Charles IV and it now houses his tomb along with a multitude of rulers and saints including St Wenceslas. The many stained glass windows, wooden sculptures, crown jewels, wall paintings, mausoleums and chapels of St Vitus Cathedral are significant pages in art and history. The Gothic south entrance to the Cathedral, known as the Golden Gate is a sight to see considering its intricately beautiful design courtesy of a certain Peter Parler. The otherwise incomplete bell tower is yet another important sight and a 300 step ascent from the inside offers you some arresting views of Prague. The Sigismund bell it is home to, is the largest in the whole of Czech Republic. Essential Information: Two types of tickets for the Prague Castle, a ‘Long Tour’ and a ‘Short Tour’, are available at the information centres in the second and third courtyards inside the complex and both provide entry to different combinations of sights. Other ‘Exhibition’ tickets are also available and you are free to choose one out of the three. These tickets are valid for two days and can also be bought at the entrances of all major sights. However, the information centres are recommended because they are not all that crowded. The first ticket includes a tour of St. Vitus Cathedral, the Old Royal Palace, an exhibition on "The Story of Prague Castle", St. George's Basilica, Golden Lane (Franz Kafka lived here for a short period), the Daliborka Tower, the Powder Tower and Rosenberg Palace. It comes for 350 CZK. The second ticket comprises of St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, St. George's Basilica and Golden Lane with the Daliborka Tower and costs 250 CZK. Entry to the Bell Tower is separate and costs 150CZK and it is open from 10am to 6pm during the summer months and 5pm during the winters. If in case you are a student or a senior citizen, you pay half the price provided you produce a valid ID. Make sure you walk around the beautiful palace gardens towards the end of your tour. Getting There: Tram 22 gets you to Pražský Hrad (Prague Castle). Get off at 'Pohorelec' so that the walk to the fortress is shorter. The historical buildings usually shut by 5 in the evening while the rest of the complex is open till 10.
Wawel Royal Castle
The Wawel Royal Castle, perched magnificently on the stunning Wawel Hill is undoubtedly one of the most culturally and historically significant structures in Poland. It is most importantly an emblem of Polish identity. This 16th Century palace has been home to a line of Kings and Queens who kept beautifying it and has also seen troubled times in the form of vandalism and occupation by enemy troops. It was only entirely restored after the Second World War and is now an elaborate museum where one can see the splendid Halls of Deputies and Senators as a section of the State Rooms. Then there are the Royal Apartments and the Treasuries apart from other exhibitions. All of the interiors are spectacular and are brilliant examples of the Renaissance, Baroque and Gothic style of architecture. There are five permanent exhibitions to be seen at the Wawel Castle and there is a different ticket for each one of them: State Rooms: 18PLN from April to October and 16PLN from December to March. Royal Private Apartments: 25PLN from April to October and 21PLN from December to March. Crown Treasury and Armoury: 18PLN from April to October and 16PLN from December to March. Exhibition The Lost Wawel: 10PLN from April to October and 8PLN from December to March. Exhibition Oriental Art: 8PLN from April to October and 7PLN from December to March. The State Rooms, Royal Private Apartments and Exhibition Oriental Art are open from 9:30am to 5pm from Tuesdays till Fridays and 10am to 5pm during the weekends. They are closed on Mondays. The Crown Treasury and Armoury and Exhibition The Lost Wawel are open from 9:30am to 5pm from Tuesdays till Fridays, 10am to 5pm during the weekends and 9:30 am till 1pm on Mondays. It is advisable to book your tickets by calling the reservations office in advance or you could buy them at the visitors centre. Arrive as early as you can and avoid weekends. For more information about the office, the winter timings and the updates for the month of November, visit their official website: https://www.wawel.krakow.pl/en
Perhaps the most important national haven in Poland, the Wawel Cathedral has witnessed the coronation of a line of Polish monarchs and has also been the cradle of their tombs. This gothic, Roman Catholics church houses artefacts of absolute historical and cultural significance. With its silver coffins and crypts, murals and stained glass windows, the Wawel Cathedral is fascinating. The most mesmerizing of them all are the animal bones on the iron doors that are believed to have magical powers. Additionally the Sigismund Chapel on the inside is supposed to be the most beautiful Renaissance Chapel north of the Alps. For those interested, there is also a Wawel Cathedral Museum. Before exiting Wawel Hill, make sure you also visit the Dragon’s Den (a cave that is some 130 steps below) and the Thieves’ Tower for rather hackneyed tales of Wawel’s fabled dragon and brilliant views over the Vistula River. Shelling out 12PLN grants you entry into the Wawel Cathedral along with the tombs and the Sigismund Bell Tower with its 11 tonne bell. You could rent English audio guides for 7PLN if in case you are looking for a detailed tour. It is open from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Saturday. On Sundays, it opens at 9:30am. You would have to pay an additional 3PLN for the Dragon’s Den. Tickets for the Cathedral are available from opposite the main gate and for the Dragon’s Den, a coin-operated machine is located right outside the entrance of the cave.
Prague- Immediately after checking in we set out to visit the Karlstejn castle situated in the outskirts of Prague (about 1 hour drive). We chose to take an uber that was a little pricey but convenient and safe for 2 lady travelers. Our wonderful Uber host also waited for us to complete our tour of the castle to take us back to the city. (Total cost- 1000Koruna (approx.37 euros)). Karlstejn is a beautiful castle with an amazing view and drive. (entry fee 330 koruna). We stopped at a cafe at the foot of the castle (dont remember the name though) (if it helps it looked like a cottage). Do try their food. Lovely staff with nice warm food. (Temp 8 degrees C)Note- Koruna is the currency used in Czech Republic, however, shop keepers also accept euros. I'd suggest convert bare minimum Korunas as well established/ known forex brokers charge 28% service charges. You may not want to go to the lesser known forex guys across the cityDay 4 - Prague (Temp 7 degrees C)
Rudolfinum is one establishment that is so grand and so unabashedly gorgeous, that you cannot help but stop and stare. This Neo-Renaissance marvel dominating the Jan Palach Square in Prague is deservedly the most popular art gallery and music auditorium in the city. The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra calls Rudolfinum home and it also served as an administrative office of the Nazis during the Second World War. It now houses the Galerie Rudolfinum and the massively popular Dvorak Hall. Architects Josef Schulz and Josef Zitelk deserve all our gratitude for adorning Praha with this spectacle. Getting There: Take Trams 17/18 up to Staromestska and walk 150 metres to stroll around and get pictures of this stunning architectural wonder. Entry to the Rudolfinum Galerie costs 140CZK and it is open from 10am to 6pm on Tuesdays and till 8pm on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
St. George's Basilica
St. George's Basilica is the oldest church building within the Prague Castle complex. It is also the best-preserved Romanesque church in Prague. Within the church lie several tombs of major historic importance. In the Gothic Chapel of St. Ludmila lies the tomb of St. Ludmila, the saint and widow of the 9th century ruler Prince Borivoj. Also buried in the basilica are Prince Vratislav and Boleslav II.