Did you know the picturesque city of Prague is the proud owner of the largest castle in the world? Read on to know more about this underrated European holiday destination, as Protima Tiwary recites her experience!
The bohemian city of Prague will always hold a special place in my heart. At any given time of day, the skyline of Gothic spires and cobbled streets looks like it’s right out of a painting. As your eyes race from one tower to the next, you realise there is no way you can ever have enough of the charm that this city seems to exude. You switch off your maps, you walk around, you lose yourself in one of the many lanes around Old Town. Prague will have you under her spell in no time.
Walk Around, Get Lost, Discover New Places
Prague has done a brilliant job at shaking off its industrial past, and has transformed itself into a vibrant city, bustling with tourists at all given times of the year. This enigmatic city with churches, synagogues and museums is best explored on foot. Start at the urban Wenceslas Square that is filled with the hustle-bustle of touristy crowds, weave your way through the cobble-stoned lanes to Old Town, and finally reach the Charles Bridge.
We spent three days in Prague walking around, getting lost, and discovering new places while we were at it. While there’s a lot that I’d love to share with you, I’m going to leave you with the essential highlights. Take a look!
1. Charles Bridge
Did you know? Once upon a time, this bridge, with its Gothic statues and towers, used to be completely empty! Today, you need to be prepared to make your way through the throng of tourists here. I say this because you will be stopped with requests to click pictures, and of course you’d want to get clicked too. Switch your tourist mode to the highest level, and go at it!
2. Prague Castle
Make sure you visit the Prague Castle complex, with its churches, courtyards, and palaces for an interesting journey back into the city’s history.
Stop by at antique stores, pick up a gingerbread or two, buy a book at one of the hidden libraries, peep into store windows were tarot cards and gypsy clothes are sold, and soak in the charm of the Bohemian Old Town. Don’t forget to bite into a doughnut cone ice-cream, a dessert made of sweet dough, coated with sugar and sprinkled with cinnamon, and filled with the ice cream of your choice.
3. Sigmund Freud Statue
It saddens me to say that not many know about this mysterious structure. One of the buildings in the Old Town has a 7-feet statue of Sigmund Freud dangling in the air over the street; it’s quite a spectacle. When this statue was first created, people thought someone was trying to commit suicide and they reported this to the police. You actually need to see it to know how real this looks, just make sure you keep looking towards the sky as you walk through Old Town.
4. Fred & Ginger Building
In the medieval town of Prague, stands a modern-looking glass building that is fondly referred to as the Dancing House. The curvy outlines of this architectural marvel have been named after the iconic dance duo Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers. It’s a little out of the way, but you need to stop by to see the beauty of this architectural piece, which is a stark contrast to the historic architecture in the neighbourhood.
5. Wenceslas Square
Wenceslas Square is the focal point in the New Town Quarter, and has a rich history. This is where you find the Jan Palach Square, a memorial built to commemorate two college students who set themselves on fire in 1969 to protest the Soviet Union’s invasion of the Czech Republic. Another interesting point here is the statue of King Wenceslas, which is a popular meeting spot for the locals.
6. Astronomical Clock
It’s a pity that the Prague Astronomical Clock was under renovation when we visited, but it didn’t stop us from clicking pictures. When functional, this clock chimes every hour and has a small performance in store for the city of Prague. Every hour, the two windows open up to reveal the 12 apostles who come out greet the city, ending their performance with ringing bells that signify the hour.
7. St. Vitus Cathedral
The magnificent St Vitus Cathedral is unique and famous because of its ancient baroque architectural style. This Roman Catholic cathedral and the seat of the archbishop of Prague, is a must-visit when in the city, especially during the evening.
8. Jewish Quarter
Here you’ll come across one of the most powerful collection of Jewish sights in Prague. Explore the Jewish Quarter to know more about the Jews in Prague, and do keep the Jewish Cemetery, Jewish Museum and Old New Synagogue on your list.
9. Lunch by the Vltava
While you’re on your feet all day, do not forget to stop by for some rest (you’ll not realise how tiring it all gets, especially during the summer months). Head to the river bank and stop by for a picnic in the summer sun.
10. John Lennon Wall
While John Lennon never visited Prague himself, a wall with his name draws hordes of tourists to the city every year. John Lennon songs were banned during the Communist era, mostly because they spoke of freedom that did not exist at that point. After his murder in 1980, John’s face was painted on the wall near the French Embassy, along with a lot of graffiti against the authorities. The Communist police tried cleaning these messages, but the wall would soon be repainted with new messages.
11. Evenings By The Vltava
It was 10pm as we sat by the Vltava river with a glass of beer and a hot dog, taking in the sights and sounds of Prague. The reflection of the city lights on the calm river surface, boats filled with people in the mood for a drink (or 2, maybe 5), and happy couples in love. Airplanes twinkled against the inky blue night sky, with the silhouette of the Prague Castle in the horizon. Men and women sharing a laugh, families cycling or walking their pets, and runners training along the river bank. It was in this moment that we realised a simple, clichéd and extremely under-rated thing, the world is an open book waiting to be explored. Long story short, this has to be my fondest memory of Prague and I highly recommend you keep an evening aside for this experience.
Prague is a quaint town that has charmed visitors since time immemorial. Some fall in love with her picturesque beauty, some are enchanted by her Bohemian vibe, while others appreciate her history. You cannot go to Prague and return unchanged, she’ll put a spell on you and have you coming back for more! So enjoy a heavy breakfast, lace up and head out to conquer Prague.
What To Keep In Mind?
Please note – whether you’re in a restaurant, crowded market place or even a cab, make sure you keep your belongings safe with you. Prague is known for pickpockets and con artists, so keep your money close, don’t use credit cards, exchange currency at stores instead of on the road, and ensure you check the rates before purchasing anything.
An Army kid in pursuit of culinary nirvana, Protima Tiwary is a freelance content writer by day and a fitness blogger by night. High on love, life and sugar, she is mildly obsessed about cupcakes and to-do lists, and loves her long runs like a fat kid loves cake. While she fumbles towards fame as a writer, she believes living life with a little bit of flair and exaggeration makes things interesting. You can find her work on her website Dumbbells and Drama