The Prague Castle, an ancient symbol of the Czech lands, is the most significant Czech monument and one of the most important cultural institutions in the Czech Republic.A UNESCO World Heritage site, it consists of a large-scale composition of palaces and ecclesiastical buildings of various architectural styles, from Roman-style buildings from the 10th century through Gothic modifications in the 14th century.
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.
If you have a day spare or are visiting the city with your family Prague Zoo is a great alternative to wandering around the streets all day. Situated just outside the city center it is easily reachable by public transport or a taxi. From March to October it is also reachable by steamboat. The trip takes 75 minutes and is an exciting way to start your visit. Highlights include Elephant Valley home to around 12 Elephants, an Indonesian Jungle with orangutans, various monkeys, tropical birds and Komodo Dragons! There are also Polar Bears, Big Cats Habitat, Lemur Island, a large pavilion of Gorillas including a big Silver back and an African Savannah, filled with Giraffes, Zebra, Meerkats, Lions and other African animals. There is plenty of things to do and see for the entire family as well as various shows and talks about some of the animals. There is even a petting farm for the young ones. TIP ALERT: Entrance for a family of four is 600Kč. Adult/Child 200/150Kč. Prague Zoo is open daily all year round. Time period: Opening hours: April, May, September, October 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. June, July, August 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. March 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. November, December, January, February 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Old Town SquareThe Old Town Square is one of the most popular squares in Prague with the Wenceslas Square on one side and The Charles Bridge on another. This square is the center to some of the most historic statues and structures in Czech Republic- the Old Town Hall, Jan Hus Memorial, The Church of St. Nicholas and the Astronomical Clock, oldest active astronomical clock in the world.The Astronomical Clock particularly attracts a lot of attention amongst tourists, with its popular hourly displays and the legends that surround it. Towards December, the Old Town Square becomes even more vibrant with the Christmas Markets; it is the biggest and most visited in Czech Republic.
Church of Our Lady before Týn
My first glimpse of the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn deluded me into believing that I had somehow arrived at Hogwarts. As I stepped closer, I changed my mind and thought that I was facing a much darker version of Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle. This magnificent structure is however a Gothic-Baroque church that dominates most of the cityscape of Prague and even serves as an emblem of sorts. The Tyn courtyard behind the cathedral is the source of its name. The most intriguing aspect of the Church of Our Lady is the fact that the two tall and imposing yet asymmetrical spires, replete with their fairy tale charm, are representations of masculinity and femininity. While most of the structure is hidden behind the Tyn School, it manages to dominate the fabled Old Town of the Czech capital. The golden image of the glorious Mother Mary is as conspicuous as it could possibly be. This cathedral of the aristocrats is therefore unmissable. Getting There: This 14th century beauty is open from 10 am to 1 pm and 3pm to 5 pm on Tuesdays through Saturdays. On Sundays, it is open from 10:30 am till noon. For those taking the subway, the station 'Staroměstská' should be your stop and if in case you are taking the tram, lines 17 and 18 get you to Staroměstská. The stop is some 500 metres from the church.
For the best view of Praha, the park of Letna Hill is one of the best spots to relax and take pictures. Climbing up hill could take a while, but the view is absolutely worth the efforts! It is also where Legendary Pop star Michael Jackson started his HIStory World Tour in the September of 1996!
An ancient street located within the Prague Castle complex, the colourful yet quaint Golden Lane is somehow largely reminiscent of the tiny cottages that formed a major part of Enid Blyton’s works. 16th Century alchemists and artisans once called these historic cottages home. Today, their doll-like houses have been brilliantly restored in order to illustrate the kind of life they led during their times. While a handful of them now function as souvenir and book shops, some are just wonderfully refurbished homes. Right from the cottages of seamstresses and film historians to goldsmiths and fortune tellers, every one of them looks lived in and you often feel like the owners have merely stepped out for work and are perhaps on their way back. The most popular out of all cottages is House 22, the one in which Franz Kafka’s sister resided. Kafka himself spent a couple of years in her humble abode in order to write his most celebrated pieces. As you stroll down the Golden Lane, you realize that there’s some magic here; inexplicable yet tangible. 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, 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. 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.
Church of Saint Thomas Situated in Mala Strana this beautiful church has some of the best examples of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture and frescoes in the whole of Prague. Filled with gold statues and beautiful carvings, this is one of the most beautiful churches I have had the pleasure of being part of. Situated next to the Augustine Hotel, the church is also part of a monastery, of which part of the hotel now owns and has built into. It’s worth a visit if you are in the area. It’s a stone throw away from Charles Bridge and St Nicholas Church. Entrance is free. TIP ALERT: If you’re visiting during the weekend be mindful that there will be several masses held, especially on Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings. Please respect that people will be attending mass and will not want flashing cameras going off during the service.
Founded in 1140 by Prince Vladislav II, Strahov Monastery is a large, impressive building located at the back of Petrin Hill and Prague Castle. This elevated area of the city offers visitors a calm oasis, somewhere to stroll around, enjoy views over the Lesser Town (and indeed the whole of Prague), and to visit one of the city's finest churches. Strahov Monastery, and its surrounding area, has a serene, meditative quality, however its library is its most important feature, which comprises one of the oldest monastic collections in the country. The library is located in the theological and philosophical halls, and is over 800 years old. Despite ransacking by invading armies, it holds 16,000 books.
Franz Kafka Museum
Sticking with the art theme, perched on the edge of the Josefov Quarter is this suitably bizarre and cerebral statue of Franz Kafka, depicted sitting on a headless man’s shoulders. Track down the statue in Dušní Street, where the author used to live, and pay your own tribute. TIP ALERT: You can visit the statue whilst you explore the Josefov Jewish Quarter. Its free of charge to see the statue (it’s literally on the street), but if you want to see the various sites in the Jewish Quarter you might want to purchase the combined ticket from the Jewish Museum that lets you into most sights. Adult/Child 480/320Kč
VyšehradThe Vyšehrad is a historical fort by the hill on the side of the Vlatva River. It was probably built in the 10th century with a hint of Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic architecture styles. The Basilica of St Peter and St Paul and the Vyšehrad Cemetry are also a part of its premises. The Vyšehrad Cemetry has been a burial ground for some of the most famous Czech people.A walk by the riverside at Vyšehrad at the sunset time is one of the most recommended things on your Prague-To Do-List!
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.
Ice pubI met a Chinese guy while walking down the maze and tower, we talked for a while about how they teach English in Chinese and about our plans for the following days. I had some coupons for free drinks in the Ice Pub from my hostel and neither of us felt we shouldn't use it. Which made us trace our way back to the city, and near Charles bridge was the Ice Pub. After paying a minimal entry fee we were provided with gloves and jacket to survive the minus degrees inside. Its freezing cold inside and drinking anything other that warm liquor will leave you motionless. We both took some Red bull+Vodka and danced to the music inside. They have a time limit of 15 minutes to stay inside the Ice pub after which you will be asked to leave. One time experience with a random stranger who turned out to be a nice guy :)
Museum of Medieval Torture
The view from the top made it all worth it. To further enhance our experience the next stop was the ” Museum of Torture “ . Yup, we have all read about the dark ages, Hollywood has put many a movie down our throats filled with blood and gore from the pre-renaissance era. A booklet with English descriptions let our imaginations run wild as to how each individual instrument was used and we said a small silent prayer thanking the powers that be, that we were not born in the dark ages. The room has a collection of torture chairs, brazen bull, torture cages, chastity belts, pear of anguish, boiling pot, Iron maiden, Witch cages, witch stools etc. The museum is housed in an old time dungeon, it also has prison cells with real nail marks on the walls, as if screaming for a release….
Letna Beer Garden
Want to escape to the most peaceful place in Prague? Letna garden offers you a splendid view of the city, with a variety of Beers and Wines to choose from. The climb to the garden is a great workout. If you are feeling lazy, take the tram around and to the back of the garden. This is also a great picnic spot as there are several benches overlooking the city.The garden is very big and you will see people primarily coming here to walk, run, relax or walk their dogs.
The little quarter called "Nový Svět" (New World) will surprise you with its charming small houses one wouldn´t expect in a capital city. All this will make you approach the Prague Castle in a different and wonderful way. The walk will allow you to observe two different places, which are breathing history and picturesqueness at the same time. The area has never been affected by major urban development; therefore, it has preserved its old-world peace and magic.
Voted the world’s 2nd most ugliest building, the Žižkov Tower rises over Prague 3 district and can be seen from most of the city centers tall buildings including the Old Town’s Clock Tower. This “unique” Zizkov Tower was constructed over a period of seven years between 1985 and 1992 pre the Velvet Revolution. Architecturally brutal and high-tech, with a height of 216 metres (709 feet), the Zizkov TV Tower dominates Prague’s skyline. TIP ALERT: For a perfect evening head up the tower just before sunset for a great view across the city, and dine in the towers restaurant, 66 meters above ground for some fine dining and a beautiful night-time vista. For reservations visit www.oblaca.cz