Bohemian Rhapsody : Prague, Czech Republic (Part 2)

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Photo of Bohemian Rhapsody : Prague, Czech Republic (Part 2) by Sumedha Bharpilania
Photo of Bohemian Rhapsody : Prague, Czech Republic (Part 2) by Sumedha Bharpilania
Photo of Bohemian Rhapsody : Prague, Czech Republic (Part 2) by Sumedha Bharpilania
Photo of Bohemian Rhapsody : Prague, Czech Republic (Part 2) by Sumedha Bharpilania
Photo of Bohemian Rhapsody : Prague, Czech Republic (Part 2) by Sumedha Bharpilania
Photo of Bohemian Rhapsody : Prague, Czech Republic (Part 2) by Sumedha Bharpilania
Photo of Bohemian Rhapsody : Prague, Czech Republic (Part 2) by Sumedha Bharpilania
Photo of Bohemian Rhapsody : Prague, Czech Republic (Part 2) by Sumedha Bharpilania
Photo of Bohemian Rhapsody : Prague, Czech Republic (Part 2) by Sumedha Bharpilania
Photo of Bohemian Rhapsody : Prague, Czech Republic (Part 2) by Sumedha Bharpilania
Photo of Bohemian Rhapsody : Prague, Czech Republic (Part 2) by Sumedha Bharpilania

Prague, like Paris, is always a good idea. From Bohemian Kings and celebrated composers to intimidating Nazis and Soviet tanks, it has been through the crests and troughs. And this experience is so deeply entrenched, that it shines through the fabric of the city. Prague keeps you on your toes by virtue of the many sights that are out there to explore and also pampers you to the core. It is addictive, very much like an elegant and potent bottle of wine. Its extravagance may have once gone into a deep slumber but the Czech people have worked exceedingly hard to restore the same. Considering the fact that Prague is now a bustling metropolis chock-a-block with travellers from all over the world, they have definitely succeeded.

Carrying a map of the city is imperative and walking is the best way to uncover the many hidden treasures of the Czech capital. If in case you take the metro, bus or tram, all of which form an integrated network, buy your tickets from metro stations, information offices or ticketing machines at tram or bus stops. One ticket comes for around 30CZK and is valid for 90 minutes the moment you validate it on the yellow machines inside buses and trams or at the entrance to metro stations. Buy a 24 hour or a three day pass instead of individual tickets if in case you plan to take many metro/tram/bus trips as they are cheaper. You can always hail taxis (official yellow cabs), but they are rather expensive. The weather in Prague has a mind of its own and it therefore is wise to be prepared for the heat, the cold and the rain. English is never a problem but knowing a few greetings in Czech will certainly do you no harm. Ahoj! Děkuji!

The local people are the warmest and wittiest of the lot and love eating, relaxing and celebrating every joyous occasion that comes their way. They would sure be more than happy to welcome you. Praha is indeed a lively city with ever-smiling faces and beautiful places. You wouldn't want to miss it for the world. 

You can read Part 1 of this series here.

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.
Photo of Church of Our Lady before Týn, Old Town Square, Prague 1, Czech Republic by Sumedha Bharpilania
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.
Photo of St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague 1, Czech Republic by Sumedha Bharpilania
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.
Photo of Golden Lane, Praha 012, Czech Republic by Sumedha Bharpilania
Photo of Golden Lane, Praha 012, Czech Republic by Sumedha Bharpilania
Travelling all the way to the Prague Castle is pointless without first visiting the Strahov Monastery located right behind it. Founded by Prince Vladislav II in 1140, this magnificent structure is located on the Petrin Hill and therefore also offers brilliant views of Praha. The monastery was once shut down by the Communist Government and opened its doors yet again in 1990. It is home to the Church of St Roch, the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady and the Strahov Library, the largest monastic library in Czech Republic. The Baroque Theological and Philosophical halls of the library are home to over a thousand valuable manuscripts and volumes. The Cabinet of Curiosities located in the lobby is an array of morbid yet mysterious remains. The Strahov Picture Gallery and Miniature Museum are also popular sights in the complex. Additionally, the most popular brewery in Prague, the Klasterni Pivovar Strahov, where monks brewed their own beer, is located right here. Exit the main courtyard of Strahov to come to the beautiful orchards and parks of Petrin and spend some time soaking in the glory of Praha. Getting There: The Strahov Library is open daily from 9am to noon and 1pm till 5pm. You’d have to shell out around 80CZK to enter. The Picture Gallery would cost you another 80CZK and it is open from 9am till noon and 12:30pm to 5pm. Tickets to the Miniature Museum come for 100CZK and it is open from 9am to 5pm. Tram no. 22 brings you to Pohorelec and from there you can walk around 300 metres to get to the monastery.
Photo of Strahov Monastery, Strahovské nádvoří, Prague-Prague 1, Czech Republic by Sumedha Bharpilania
Photo of Strahov Monastery, Strahovské nádvoří, Prague-Prague 1, Czech Republic by Sumedha Bharpilania
Photo of Strahov Monastery, Strahovské nádvoří, Prague-Prague 1, Czech Republic by Sumedha Bharpilania
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.
Photo of Rudolfinum, Alšovo nábřeží, Prague 1, Czech Republic by Sumedha Bharpilania
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