Prague is a favourite tourist destination and offers a wide variety of interesting places to visit and possibilities how to spend free time. Here is a summary of starting tips for any newcomer.
Prague in the Middle Ages:
Prague became an important centre during the rule of dukes of house Přemysl. Both a trading settlement in today’s Malá Strana and the rotunda of St. Wenceslaus in the Prague Castle can be dated back to the 10th century. Foundation of the castle Vyšehrad occurred in the latter half of the same century. Prague became a a fortified city in the 13th century in the High Middle Ages.
The historical centre of Prague, full of the atmosphere of medieval streets that reminisce the old trade routes, opulent royal processions, knightly tournaments, and Hussite upheaval, is listed in as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The main landmarks of Czech statehood are the Prague Castle and Vyšehrad.
The premises of the Prague Castle consist of numerous historical palaces, churches, and the cathedral of St. Vitus, that bear traces of the rule of the Czech kings and princes throughout the centuries. If we want to get and idea of the authentic atmosphere of the centuries past, we can go to Zlatá ulička or to Nový svět. There are also numerous exhibitions, galleries, and various cultural events in the premises of the Prague Castle. Also worth mentioning are the baroque terrace gardens beneath the Prague Castle, which were part of the noble palaces built below the castle in Malá Strana.
Another landmark of Prague, Vyšehrad – a hillfort above the river Vltava – is part of the Czech mythology from its earliest times.
Many eminent Czech figures are buried in the Vyšehrad Cemetery, which also houses the oldest rotunda in Prague, the rotunda of St. Martin.
Charles Bridge, the oldest bridge in Prague dating back to the 14th century, connects both banks of the river Vltava. It is named after its founder, Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Statues of saints flanking both sides of the bridge are from the baroque period. The most popular is the statue of St. Jan Nepomucký, who – according to legend – was thrown off this very bridge.
Prague’s Old Town is the true heart of Prague, settled since the 11th century, is along with the Prague Castle the oldest part of the city. At its centre is the Old Town square. Part of the Old Town is still based on the original medieval ground plan, whose narrow passages are surrounded by houses with oftentimes an interesting, intriguing, and mysterious history. The Old Town Square is often cited as the most beautiful town square in Europe. Its main attraction is Orloj, a medieval mechanical clock with moving figures of apostles. The Old Town Square is interesting for more reasons that just that however and has an unmistakable and lengthy history. It was witness to several important historical events and even today is the centre of affairs in Prague. The Old Town Hall was founded as the centre of administration for the Old Town of Prague.
Karolinum, the site of the Charles University – the oldest Czech university dating back to the 14th century – is not far from the Old Town Square.
Josefov (also known as the Jewish quarter) is the most preserved complex of Jewish historic sights in Central Europe.
Jewish merchants and moneylenders made their home in Prague since the 10th century. The Jewish population governed itself from the outset, having their own schools and synagogues. The Old New Synagogue from the last quarter of the 13th century was the main synagogue of the Jewish community in Prague. Other synagogues in Prague include Pinkas Synagogue, Maisel Synagogue, and the Spanish Synagogue. The Old Jewish Cemetery is called Beth-chaim, “House of Life”, and is a memorial of global import.
What is interesting amongst modern architecture:
The Municipal House is an excellent example of Prague Secession. It was built by the Prague community in the years 1905-1912. It primarily serves representative purposes and as a place for cultural events, such as concerts or exhibitions.
The National Museum was founded during the time of the Czech National Revival. There you can find regular collections as well as temporary thematic expositions. The Neo-Renaissance building of the National Museum forms the most prominent feature of the Wenceslaus Square.
The tallest structure in Prague is the Žižkov Television Tower, which offers wondrous views of the city of Prague.
Further places of interest:
For fans of nature:
Šárka – close to UCT Prague
Prokopské údolí – natural reserve