That was many years ago, when I had a business trip to Paris. At that time I wasn’t planning any trip myself, wasn’t thinking of new places to visit next and even couldn’t imagine, that very soon I will have my travel blog, which will be based on my own trips! But during this trip I had few free days after my business meetings and could have a chance to see amazing Loire Valley Castles in France. On my way back home I had a long stopover in Prague, around 10-12 hours, since early morning until the evening. And it would be meaningless to spend these hours inside the walls of the Airport. So I decided to go out and walk in a city. Why not?
This was my first solo trip (if I can call it like that), which was not planned in advance but was completed not bad 🙂 I found an information desk at the airport, asked the women about main attractions that I can see during my free time, took a map and went to find a shuttle to the city center. Bus ride took around 30-40 minutes, the final destination was Prague City Centre Stop (Terminus), which was very close to Wenceslas Square. This is one of the main city squares and the center of the business and cultural communities in Prague. Even that it’s located in the New Town, it is still part of the historic center of Prague, and is a World Heritage Site.
First what I did from here was to check the direction to the Old Town and start strolling in the streets. I wanted to see everything, even that there’s nothing interesting or important. For me all was new and interesting. I wasn’t looking for anything special yet (I had plenty of time for that), but the first thing I saw was probably one of the most known and visited in Prague – The Astronomical Clock (AKA Prague Orloj). This was a medieval astronomical clock installed in 1410, the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest clock still operating.
In a few meters from here the was the Old Town Square, which is the oldest square in the historical center. At that time I was not good in taking pictures at all and was just capturing all that I see. So my pictures in this article cannot pass truly all the beauty that I really saw. The square was surrounded with vibrant buildings and historical landmarks. One of those was the Gothic Church of Our Lady before Týn, which you can see almost in all pictures showing Prague (and why didn’t I take a picture of it?).
In the middle of the square there is religious reformer Jan Hus Memorial, who was burned at the stake for his beliefs in Constance and which led to the Hussite Wars (AKA Bohemian wars). On another side of the square you can see The Baroque St. Nicholas Church. 18th century church was built on the site of a Gothic church from the 13th century also dedicated to Saint Nicholas. Interior design with make you admire on amazing frescoes and stuccos.
From here I started to walk all around, checking every street and cute buildings. I wanted to find the Charles Bridge (or as locals call it – Karluv most) and seems I got lost. Yes, at that time I didn’t have smart devices to show me the map online, and the best way to find desired place was to ask locals. I did so, stopped a young girl and asked.. She couldn’t speak well English or Russian, but I understood that I need to go into the black tower direction (she showed on its roof seen). That was The Old Bridge Tower, which look very similar to the Powder Tower, the city gate built in the 15th century. This one is shown in the picture below.
And here was another most famous place for tourists to go, the Charles Bridge. This is a stone bridge that connects Old and New parts of Prague over Vltava river. The bridge that has 516 meters length and about 10 meters wide is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 baroque style statues of different saints, forming two rows one in each side. The view from the bridge is awesome, wherever you look. Don’t be surprised to see hundreds of ducks. They are everywhere here!
Usually the bridge is always crowded. People come here to cross the river, to enjoy the view or to listen to the street artists & entertainers. On each few meters you’ll see a new group of musicians that really enjoy what they do: playing music, having fun and earning money, why not? Considering all these, passing the bridge might take around an hour from you, if you stop on each place, look around, listen to music and forgetting about time.
Under the bridge, or on Vltava’s waters, you’ll see several small and big boats that make different kind of tours for tourists. I was one of them taking a boat tour. On the bridge, or near it, there are special people offering such tours to people who doesn’t look like locals. On my tour I had a free local beer and a guide telling interesting stories about each place we passed, such as Čertovka canal built around 12th century, which is also called Little Prague Venice. You can see several medieval mills along its course.
Somewhere behind there was a hill all covered with green trees. On top of this hill there was a tower. Our guide told us that Czech people wanted to build a bigger copy of Eiffel Tower, but for some reason they changed their minds and built a small one, but on top of Petrin Hill. With this it is considered higher than Eiffel Tower taking in mind the altitude above sea level. This was only 63.5 meters high Petrin Tower. Tricky, hein? 😛
Coming to Prague and not visit the Prague’s Castle is non-sense. To reach it you need to walk up on the hill, pass through “Wrestling Titans” and “Matthias Gate” and cross the “Rothmayer Hall”. Then you will see something majestic. This is the entrance to the St. Vitus Cathedral. This Roman Catholic metropolitan cathedral, an example of Gothic architecture, is the seat of the Archbishop of Prague and is the largest and most important church in the country. Pity I couldn’t take a picture of whole cathedral. It is really something you must see.
Just behind this cathedral the Prague Castle is located. This is a castle complex built in the 9th century and you know what? It is the official office of the President of the Czech Republic! Before that the castle was a seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors, and presidents of Czechoslovakia. According to the Guinness Book of Records, this Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world, occupying an area of almost 70,000 sq.m. OMG, can you imagine this? I think I visited only very small part of it.. Humm… need to come back to explore it all with all its surrounding areas and adjacent buildings. I don’t have any picture from the castle itself, but here is the view to the city from castle’s side. Isn’t this beautiful?
The last building that I captured on my way back to the bus station (time was running and I didn’t want to miss my flight!) was the Rudolfinum. Not the best picture, agree. This building designed in the neo-renaissance style is 19th-century cultural venue with concert halls, art gallery and even exhibition spaces. I believe it must be beautiful inside too.
There are still so many places left that I found later, after my return or even years after. One of those places is the Clementinum, a historic complex of buildings that hosts the National library of Prague. Its baroque architecture and interior design are soo adorable. Just Google it and you will understand what I mean.
Another place, that is now considered as one of the most visited ones, is the Dancing House, a fine example of modern architecture. It even has a nickname, called as “Fred and Ginger” 🙂
Also I want to check out all the palaces (which are a lot) and museums of Prague, stroll in cute streets of the city, discover Kampa island, discover all parks and beautiful areas of Petrin Hill, and much more.. From where to start? 🙂
What can I say? At the end of the day I was super tired, walked all day long, had a quick lunch with a sandwich on one of the small cafes, had chances to sit on the steps in the street for some rest (as all chairs in nearby cafes were already busy), but after these all I was happy. Happy to make my first trip alone, seeing so many nice places and already making plans for coming back one day. Many years are passed after that day, but I didn’t change my mind. Definitely will be back to fill all the missing spots in this trip.
See you soon somewhere else 😉