Prague, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site has been described as a "3D architecture textbook". It is a city full of Romanesque chapels, gothic cathedrals, baroque palaces and gardens, worldly art nouveau buildings. It is known as the city of a thousand spires. The impressive skyline dates back 1,100 years. The city has one of the best-preserved historic city centers in Europe. The narrow laneways, the spectacular squares all make this an exciting city to explore.
Our apartment is noted on the map below.
While in Prague we have a great apartment:
In the Hradčany neighborhood, Prague Castle (Pražský hrad) was the home of Bohemia's kings and now the official residence of the Czech Republic's President. In 970 AD this was a walled fortress. Over the years many changes took place. Within the castle walls are a number of Prague's most popular tourist sites, including St. Vitus Cathedral, St. George's Basilica, the Powder Tower, the Old Royal Palace, and the Golden Lane. This is the largest ancient castle in the world.
It will take time to explore. Highlights include the Old Royal Palace's massive main hall, the Vladislav Hall, and staircPrague is considered to have one of the best-preserved historic city centers in Europe. The narrow laneways, the spectacular squares all make this an exciting city to explore. It is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Charles Bridge (Karlův Most) - The bridge is famous for its many fine old statues. Among the most important are that of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV and that of John of Nepomuk, the country's most revered saint, unveiled in 1683 (a more recent superstition involves rubbing the plaque at the base of the statue for the granting of a wish). Other highlights include spectacular views over the River Vltava and the structure's superb Gothic gates.
The Clementinum (Klementinum), one of the largest collections of historic buildings in Europe, is home to the National Library of the Czech Republic. These beautiful Baroque buildings were originally part of a Jesuit College, and later came to house the Jesuit book collection as well as the collection from the Karolinum. The library eventually became the property of the state after the Jesuits were expelled, and the Clementinum became a public library in 1782 shortly after being constituted as the National Library. With more than six million books, the Clementinum's collection is huge and includes copies of every book published in the Czech Republic.
A highlight is the exquisite Baroque Library Hall with its beautiful ceiling artwork, the 68-meter-tall Astronomical Tower with its spectacular views over Prague, and the splendid Mirror Chapel with its exquisite décor. English language guided tours are available, and for a truly memorable experience, the Clementinum is also used as a venue for jazz and classical concerts.
Here is the Tyn Church and the Clementinum, along with numerous other fine old churches, as well as splendid old architecture dating back as far as the 11th century, while the Jewish Quarter, Josefov, is just a short walk north.
A highlight is the Old Town Hall (Staromestská radnice), home to the wonderful early 15th-century Astronomical Clock (orloj): each hour, it springs to life as the 12 Apostles and other figures appear and parade in procession across the clock face.
Other Old Town Hall highlights are the Gothic doorway leading to its splendid interior with its art exhibits and displays, a chapel built in 1381, and an old prison. Be sure to make the ascent (by stairs or elevator) to the top of the Old Town Hall Tower for its fine views over Prague.
Within the grounds of Prague Castle, the Roman Catholic St. Vitus Cathedral (Katedrala St. Vita) is the Czech Republic's largest and most important Christian church. Seat of the Archbishop of Prague, it's also home to the tombs of numerous saints and three Bohemian kings. Founded on the site of a Romanesque rotunda built in 925 AD, the cathedral was started in 1344 and took more than 525 years to complete, resulting in a mix of modern Neo-Gothic and 14th-century Gothic styles, along with Baroque and Renaissance influences. Stunning stained glass windows depicting the Holy Trinity, a mosaic from 1370 (The Last Judgment), and the St. Wenceslas Chapel (Svatovaclavska kaple) with its spectacular jewel-encrusted altar with more than 1,300 precious stones. Luck is needed to see the Czech crown jewels (on average, they're exhibited just once every eight years). Be sure to make the climb up the cathedral's 97-meter main tower for splendid views over Prague.
The Church of Our Lady before Týn (Kostel Matky Boží před Týnem), usually abbreviated to simply Týn Church is easily seen with twin 80-meter-tall spires flanking each side of the building.The main entrance is through a narrow passage past the houses obscuring its façade. Although completed in the 15th century, the church was altered numerous times through the centuries as the city's allegiances changed, and while interior renovations are ongoing, there's still much worth seeing, including numerous fine tombs, the superb Gothic northern portal with its Crucifixion sculpture, early Baroque altarpiece paintings dating from 1649, and one of Europe's finest 17th-century pipe organs. See the 11th-century Ungelt Courtyard behind the church with its many fine restaurants and cafés. Another splendid old church worth visiting is the Baroque Church of the Virgin Mary with its famous statue of the infant Jesus, said to have been responsible for miracles and still a point of pilgrimage.
The National Gallery spreads across many landmarks. The largest part of the collection is in the Veletrzní Palace (Veletrzní Palác), which was built in 1925. The Kinsky Palace (Palác Kinskych) and the Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia all have impressive collections. The 17th-century Sternberg Palace (Sternbersky Palác) houses some of the gallery's most famous pieces, focusing on European art from the Classical era to the end of the Baroque period and including important ancient Greek and Roman pieces; 14th- to 16th-century Italian masterpieces; and 16th- to 18th-century works by artists such as El Greco, Goya, Rubens, van Dyck, Rembrandt, and van Goyen.
The 1912 Prague Municipal House (Obecní dům) is widely considered one of the finest examples of Art Nouveau in the city. The sumptuous façade with a large mural on the arch above the second floor balcony to the large dome that rests behind and above the arch. The interior is equally impressive and includes many fine stained glass windows and important paintings. While English language guided tours are available (including a chance to see otherwise closed ceremonial rooms). There are restaurants and cafes to enjoy.
Prague's Jewish Quarter was originally located in the Castle District but by the 1200s had spread to the Josefov area and was for centuries regarded as a slum. Its transformation into one of the city's most important and interesting districts took place in the late 1800s when large sections were demolished to make way for Art Nouveau apartment buildings. Today, Josefov is a pleasant area to stroll and includes the Jewish Museum in Prague (Židovské muzeum v Praze), an important attraction that consists of the Maisel Synagogue, the Spanish Synagogue, the Pinkas Synagogue, the Old Jewish Cemetery, the Ceremonial Hall, and the Klaus Synagogue.
The 12th Century Strahov Monastery and Library (Strahovsky kláster) is the second oldest monastery in Prague. There is an gateway and churches, but the most important are its two beautifully decorated Baroque libraries. The Philosophical Library contains a variety of extraordinary furnishings, along with an exquisite ceiling painted by Franz Anton Maulbertsch entitled Enlightenment. The second library, the Theological Library, consists of a splendid Baroque room with a beautiful ornate painted ceiling by Siard Nosecky, a Strahov Monk, along with superb ceiling frescoes framed by detailed stuccowork. The libraries contain many rare old volumes and manuscripts, including the famous 9th-century Strahov Gospel, while in the cellars are old printing presses along with the remains of St. Norbert, founder of the Premonstratensian Order. Also of note are the cloisters, which house a religious art collection and treasury.
This is a miniature replica of the Eiffel Tower. From there there are panoramic views over Prague. It is only a fifth the size of its French counterpart, the tower's elevation creates the illusion that it's bigger than it actually is). Built in 1891 for a major exhibition from used railway tracks, it was later moved to Petrín Hill in the 1930s where it became one of the city's major tourist attractions. Make the 30-minute climb up the Petrín hill to the base of the tower or use the funicular railway before tackling the structure's 299 steps to the top (there's also an elevator as well as a café).
On picturesque Little Quarter Square, St. Nicholas Church (Malá Strana) is one of Prague's newer churches. Built by Jesuits in the 18th century, it's a fine example of High Baroque and is notable for its splendid interior with its unique 19th-century chandelier, as well as the large Baroque paintings by Czech painter Karel Skreta that adorn the huge cupola. The church also features a bell tower, which visitors are permitted to climb, from the top of which are great views over the church's huge dome and the old city.
In the New Town (Nové Město) district, the square is home to the National Museum and numerous other architectural treasures. Named after the patron saint of Bohemia, whose statue can be seen here, Wenceslas Square was created in the 14th century during the reign of Charles IV as a horse market and has since become one of the city's most important public spaces, still used for demonstrations and celebrations alike. A visit today is a fun experience, and will introduce visitors to some of the cities best dining experiences, as well as great shopping.
The National Museum (Národní Muzeum) is spread across a number of locations. The entomology collection alone numbers more than five million specimens. Established in the early 1800s, it is the oldest museum in the Czech Republic. A particular highlight is the archaeology exhibit with its extensive collection of 1st-and 2nd-century Roman artifacts, along with numerous Bronze and Early Iron age finds. Another museum to include on your must-visit list is the excellent National Technical Museum (Národní technické museum), which documents the many technological advances the country has contributed to, including displays of machinery and equipment built here over the years, from automobiles to aircraft.
Located on the banks of the River Vltava, it opened in 1881. It was destroyed by fire and closed by the communists, this stunning theater has undergone extensive renovations.(English language guided tours are available). Anther Prague theater of note is the Estates Theatre (Stavovské divaldo), built in the late 18th century in Neoclassical style and once a favorite of Mozart, who chose to premier Don Giovanni here.
The Dancing House (Tančící dům) is an outstanding modern architectural creation (1992 and 1996) by star architect Frank Gehry. Consisting of two adjoining towers, this splendid structure features unique curves that resemble two dancing figures, an effect heightened by the fact one of the towers is shaped like a woman wearing a skirt (hence the nickname, "Fred and Ginger" after famous American dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers). While the building consists largely of offices, great views can be enjoyed from the top floor restaurant (a café is also located on the main level).
Largely in ruins, the fortress is a wonderful place to walk about and offers superb views of the surrounding city.Like a fairytale the Vyšehrad fortress stands high above the Vltava River overlooking Prague. It dates back to the 10th century. It was at one time the royal residence of Vratislav II, Vyšehrad also played a role as part of the original Royal Route taken by kings about to be crowned, who would have to stop here to pay tribute to their predecessors (the route led from Vyšehrad to Hradčany).
The cemetery was created in 1680 to accommodate the victims of the plague. This became the main burial ground for centuries. There are distinct sections to the cemetery: the Jewish Cemetery, which includes the grave of writer Franz Kafka; the Christian Cemetery, where you'll find the final resting place of a more recent notable Czech, Jan Palach, who set himself on fire in 1968 in protest against the Soviet invasion. (Body removed in 1973 due to protests and his coffin was returned in 1990).
Not using the Euro but the Czech koruna or Czech crown (Kč / CZK). Notes come in 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000 CZK. Coins come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 CZK. There are numerous bureaux de change. Current exchange rates can be found at www.cnb.cz.
Payment Cards and Cash Machines (ATMs) in Prague Most common international types of payment cards – especially Visa and Mastercard – are widely accepted in Prague's shops, hotels and restaurants. There are plenty of cash machines in the centre of Prague – in banks, large shopping centres and especially in metro stations. Most of them accept all regular international cards with the Visa, Plus, Mastercard, Cirrus or Maestro symbols.
Historical centre: Castle District (Hradčany), Lesser Town (Malá Strana), Old Town (Staré Město), New Town (Nové Město) and Vyšehrad The historical centre of Prague, which covers an area of 866 hectares, has been listed in the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Register since 1992.
In tourist places - hotels, restaurants, monuments, museums, galleries, but also in a number of shops and services it is possible to make oneself understood in English or German, exceptionally French.
This massive three-aisled basilica with a long, high chancel is the third longest church building in Prague. The church was founded in 1232, and was rebuilt in Baroque style in the 18th century. The choir is home to an organ dated back to 1705. The Basilica of St James is currently also the venue for organ concerts. The famous St. James’ organ has 4 manuals, 91 speaking stops and 8,277 pipes.
Once an hour, the Vyšehrad district is filled with the sound of bells from the chapter church, which has undergone a number of modifications in the 900 years since it was built. In 1903, its construction was finally completed, giving the church its current neo-Gothic appearance. The interior is richly decorated with Art Nouveau ornamental and figural wall paintings. The church's treasury houses an exhibition of jewelery and rare textiles from the Vyšehrad Chapter.
(Thereseinstadt) is located an hour outside of Prague. It was not a real concentration game, but a Jewish ghetto and a transit camp. Noted as being well work a visit, of which a visit is described as harrowing and horrific. It is located in the Czech Republic.
© Glenn & Karen Marcus
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