Guide to Prague
Visitors can’t help fall under Prague’s old world charm. It is the capital of the Czech Republic, and until the late 1980’s, was under communist rule. These days, it is also known as the ‘heart of Europe’ and is one of Europe’s leading cities. It also has some of the best beer in the continent.
Prague is compact enough to see on foot, but wear good walking shoes to avoid the pain of cobbled streets. Take a camera to capture the surroundings and some Czech crowns (czk) to sample the famous Pilsner (local beer). ‘Pivo, prosím’means ‘one beer, please’.
The city is divided by the River Vltava, responsible for another moniker, ‘mini Venice.’ Linked by the medieval Charles Bridge; on one side lies the castle district, and opposite, the sprawling Old Town (Staré Město) and New Town (Nové Město). The city’s Old Town lies at the heart of the historical district. Here you’ll find the timeless Old Town Square and its famous Astronomical Clock.
Staying here has its advantages. There are many excellent hotels and restaurants, beautiful baroque buildings, and charming cobbled streets around you, and easy routes to the top sights.
From the Old Town, follow the Royal Way, to majestic Prague Castle, which dates back to around AD 870. Spend the day exploring its vast grounds and attractions such as St Vitus’s Cathedral and the Golden Lane. Go early for the changing of the Guard at 12:00.
The historical former Jewish Quarter (Josefov), in the Old Town, has some of the most beautiful Moorish architecture and synagogues. The Spanish Synagogue is one of the most striking with an accompanying cemetery. Synagogues are normally closed on Jewish holidays, including Saturdays.
Prague’s New Town, is the city’s commercial centre. Don’t be fooled by the name, as it was founded in the early 14th century. This is the livelier side of Prague, with Wenceslas Square at its core. Here you’ll find many bars, restaurants, shops, hotels and main transport links. The sites of the New Town are best seen by day. Like many modern capital cities, it is less charming at night.
The Square has been the location for much of Prague’s political upheaval. Here in 1989, the Velvet Revolution took place, leading to the downfall of the communist regime. Above the Square sits a statue of Prague’s ancient national hero, King Wenceslas, and in the backdrop, sit two other national treasures, the National Museum and Prague State Opera.
When tired of touring on foot, negotiate the winding streets with a tram ride through the city, or see Prague from yet another viewpoint with a magical boat trip along the Vltava River.
However you do it, you won’t forget the sights of this postcard city.