After checking in the hotel at 12:00, we started the day by taking the free city tour by Sandemans @ http://www.newpraguetours.com/daily-tours/new-prague-free-tour.html . This was a 3 hour tour. We had a really good guide who seemed quite thorough with his knowledge of city’s history. He was great at theatrics so the whole story telling experience was quite refreshing with his inputs. He covered all the major attractions of the old and new town area. The weather was good, the city was bubbling with energy, and the Wenceslas Square was active with blaring music and fun games. The town square also had traditional and cultural performances every other hour.
After a brief capitulation of the history of Prague near the Town Hall (bombarded in WWII, the part that remains is more an art form than a war relic), we headed towards the oldest Astronomical Clock Tower, on its adjacent side, which is still functioning and chimes at the strike of the hour. It is quite popular for its display of the animated procession of the Twelve Apostles which lasts only about a couple of minutes. Slightly disappointing as the duration doesn’t do justice to the sizable crowd that gathers there in anticipation of a grander performance and much in advance to get a prime spot for a good view and photography. It’s over before you realise it! Even though, “How disappointing!” is what my husband exclaimed after the show was over; I do recommend to be present there as it’s one of a kind! The tour continued with an external visit to the Estates theater – an annex of the National theatre of Prague. It is the oldest theatre still running where Mozart performed twice. His music composition for the very popular opera Don Giovanni was premiered there.
Then we headed into the Jewish Quarter of Prague where we saw Europe’s oldest original and functional synagogue called the Old New Synagogue which had an interesting fable relating to a character named Golem. Close by was the Spanish Synagogue, now a museum, which was revived in Moorish architectural style, the only existing Moorish Synagogue in Austria. Then came the Old Jewish Cemetery which has a whopping 12 layers of dead Jews buried in some 72000 tombs with hundreds of thousands of bodies. Did you know that Hitler did not destroy Prague because he had plans of settling down in this city later in life? And that Americans mistakenly bombed Prague towards the end of the WWII?
The centre of Prague and the old and new town are all at walkable distance to each other. Prague has cobbled lanes, walled streets with church spires dotted all across the sky and bridges connecting the two banks of the river at various points. The most popular, Charles Bridge, which once had horse carts, trams and busses ply on it, now transforms into a mini open-air market with kiosks, artists, traders and street performers crowding it during the day. By night it is an amazing spot to enjoy the silence of the city, observe the river filled with swans gradually wading through waters, to watch couples walking hand in hand, to revel in the distant music coming from the boats and relish the night view of the castle and the breathless view of the city along the banks of the Vltava river. But the same Charles Bridge becomes a lover’s paradise on a rainy night. A stroll across the bridge on this night when you observe couples sharing an umbrella even though they have two, when the rain drops glisten like pearls in the light of the lamps and one look in the eye of your companion makes you want the moment last forever. This is a treat of nature that cannot be captured except for the personal experience of being present on the Charles Bridge on such a night!
The Prague Castle is the largest Medieval Castle in the world which is currently the seat of the President of Czech Republic. At night, it has a magnificent view from the banks of the Vltava River. During the day, it’s a great vantage point from where one can enjoy breath-taking views of the city. The Dancing house is built where a house once existed and was bombed during the war. It’s a slight misfit in terms of architectural style which is quite evident as one walks down the street towards it. Nevertheless, it’s definitely worth a visit.
It’s an ancient and beautiful city. Summer is definitely the best time to travel unless one prefers rain or snow. If the sun is shone brightly, good weather makes for nice snaps. Also, if there are showers in the night while you are there, make sure to walk on the Charles bridge. It may be as romantic as can get on a night and in a city like this!!
Ideal to stay in or around The Old Town. It would be advantageous to find an accommodation midway between old town square area and Charles Bridge. Eg: Location of Hotel Four seasons. Hotels Ibis is good and the nearby Century Old Town Heritage is highly recommended. These make a nice walk to the Old town area.
Travel & Transport:
Transportation cost can be reduced if one is not planning to travel very far away from the city (not more than a radius of about 2-3km with Town Square as centre). It’s a small city which can be explored enjoyably and effectively mostly on foot. On a good day with decent weather, one may walk all along from the Town Square to The Prague Castle. If that is stretching your limits then a walk uphill from the Charles Bridge may sound better. If neither of these routes suit you well, then you always have the option of reaching the Castle by tram 22. You can enjoy a nice walk downhill. Visiting the Dancing House and the Petrin Hill may also require use of public transport.
Personal experience: The visit to the castle premises is free for all. Ticket is required only at the entry of 11 different buildings. St. Vitus Cathedral can be entered without the ticket up to a certain distance which for me was quite sufficient, having seen better interiors of European cathedrals. On the outside, the church is a marvel and can be conveniently admired from all sides absolutely free of cost. For those inclined towards art, history, artifacts, the development of the Castle and its grounds, visiting the Castle on the inside may be worth the while. Otherwise, the Castle, to my mind doesn’t have much to offer.
Beer Spa @ http://www.pivnilaznebernard.cz/en.
Find an interesting beer tour or pub hopping tour to get a feel of the night life of the city.
We tried Mexican food at Las Adelitas Restaurante & Tequila Bar (delicious margaritas) and Italian in Don Giovani restaurant. Good places, good food and good service. Bagels was a great place for breakfast, desserts and a close by small Mexican place had option for take away. The Starbucks in the Prague Castle premises is quite suitably located with great views of the city. Take time to relax after the Castle visit.
The currency in Prague is Czech Krone. Payment can be made in Euro as well in some places. In case you are wondering where to get the currency exchanged especially while traveling from one Schengen country to another, Prague old town area definitely has a large number of places where this can be done without commission. Though there’s one exchange bureau close to the Cathedral which is highly recommended. http://www.pragueexperience.com/places.asp?PlaceID=894
Visited: August 2013
A few glimpses for you to enjoy.