Prague is spectacular because of it´s history, art, architecture and gastronomy so we decided to list every place we believe that everyone must visit in order to avoid writing a large and boring post.
1 –Old Town and Astronomical Clock
White Umbrella free walking tour is a very interesting option to get a complete sight of the old town. It begins at the main square, historical center, and by standing in the middle of the square you can enjoy it´s architectonic beauty: Dum U Minuty, Old Town Hall, St Nicholas Church, Jan Hus monument are some of the attactions. But, with no hesitation, the star is the medieval astronomical clock (1410).
Tells the story that if the clock works fine, Prague will also be fine. Believe it or not, the clock had stopped a few months before the floods on the year 2002. Each hour, hundreds of tourists stand in front of the clock to admire the procession of the apostles, ritual that takes more than a minute when the clock comes to life.
The romantic Charles Bridge (1657) is a few meters from the square. Flanked by sculptured saints, and full of musicians, street painters and artisans that make this bridge a magical walk. If you don´t get creeps while crossing this bridge, ask with a hematologist, instead of blood you might have coolant. Some numbers: five million people walk through it each year to appreciate one of the best sights of the city.
Also wandering around Mala Strana can get very pleasurable, it is one of the oldest bohemian neighborhoods in Prague. Getting lost here is no problem, it is a gift from life.
2 – A story of Kings, magicians, artists, scientists and dwarfs: The Great Prague Castle, unbelievable but real.
Another must-see is the The Prague Castle -the largest castle in the world. Through its castle, gardens and patios have passed characters as Rudolf II (1552), eccentric king who filled the castle of scientists, artists, alchemists and dwarves. Passionate about art, he owned the most important collection of that time, from paintings and jewelry to dinosaur fossils or The Devil´s Bible, today exhibited at the Museum of Stockholm. His collection was so valuable that it was sold after his death to afford the expenses to finish St. Vitus Cathedral. Besides his obsession with accumulating art, Rudolf II was desperate to find a way to turn mercury into gold or to achieve the formula of eternal youth.
So extravagant was the reign of this opium addict, that many dissimilar characters have visited the castle. From magicians and swindlers promising the gold formula, to Johannes Keppler, world-renowned astronomer.
Another famous character was the spoilt Mary Therese of Austria who also left her mark on the Castle. As she wasn’t allowed to redesign the Cathedral into neo-gothic style, she built her own church, the Holy Cross.
“He who pays the piper calls the tune. Who pays, appears” says Dani, exceptional guide from White Umbrella referring to the stained glass windows inside Saint Vito’s Cathedral, sponsored by an insurer and by the Slav Banking that paid Alfons Mucha for one stained glass.
Inside the castle complex it’s the small golden alley, named like this after the goldsmiths who lived in its small houses in the seventeenth century. A curious fact is that between 1916 and 1917 Franz Kafka lived in house no. 22.
In one of the entrances, the statue of Tomas Masaryk, founder and first president of Czechoslovakia, stares at us carefully. Masaryk and Jan Jus, the first Protestant in history, are the most important characters in Czech Republic’s textbooks.
3- Petrin and Zizkov Hills: From the tall and green Prague.
From the Zizkov and Petrin hills you can see the city´s best panoramic. The most famous is Petrin, but if the funicular is out of order, make sure to wear confortable clothes and get ready to go up. Zizkov is a bit away from the old town- a few blocks from Florence station- it is the least known and there you can find one of the biggest equestrian statues of the world. We highly recommend to go to the supermarket first for some Pilsner Urquell, relax and enjoy sunset.
4- The great pleasure of eating
This is one of our favorite travel experiences. Here we made a list of the typical dishes and the places to find them. About beers, we are convinced that Czech beers are the best ones we´ve ever drunk. Beer is very important for their culture because of having saved thousands of lives in the medieval Europe when water was contaminated and it was a breeding ground for pests.
The biggest disappointment: the trdlo, tradicional Czech biscuit cooked on the grill. We didn´t like it at all but at least it made a great instagram picture.
We recommend the followings:
Duck: U Mevdidku. Address: Na Perštýně 7, Staré Město.
Pork Knuckles: Zlata Lyra. Address: Michalská 440/11.
Ribs: U Zajice. Address: Michalská 432/12
Open Sandwitchs: Sisters. Address: 727/, Dlouhá 727/39
Unpasteurized beer: Pivnice Stupartska. Address: Štupartská 745/9
5 – Cesky Krumlov: a charming get-away a couple of hours from Prague.
Frozen in time, this medieval town, at 178km from Prague, is truly a pearl that deserves a visit. Unesco world heritage from 1992, it is one of those places that won´t let you down, it´s like a model where everything is in the right place. The combo is: a visit to the castle, wander around the little streets and have a beer looking at the Moldava River.
At lunch we chose lasagna at Papa’s Living Restaurant (Latrán 13) and the most important travel tip is Eggenberg Brewery (Latrán 27) spectacular draft beer at only 0.2 euros.
6- Kutna Hora: A lot more to see than the Sedlec Ossuary.
Once more we escaped from the crowds and we visited Kutna Hora, a city that was once rich because of its silver mines -40% of the silver supply across Europe between XIV and XVI centuries came from here-. This economic power became Prague´s rival. Known for its bone chapel- Sedlec Ossuary-, it must be guarded 24 hours a day because Darks try to steal bones for their rituals. This cold and humid place is decorated with rests of 40 thousand people dead after the Black Death and hussite wars. By that time, it was an honour having the bones of members of your family decorating the chapel. Nowadays, it celebrates only one mass a year every November 1st, and only ones who can attend are those whose relative´s bones are in the chapel.
But Kutna Hora doesn´t finish at the bone chapel. It´s also interesting visiting the city, a real Czech town. St. Barbara Cathedral´s stanted glasses remind the mining past of this city. In fact, St. Barbara is the saint of miners.
The gastronomic tip is a few blocks away from the cathedral. Pivnice Dacicky Restaurant (Address: Rakova 8), has a medieval architecture and not only are the attention and the food great, but also are the prices. We recommend this menu: Boar meat goulash, red beer and apple struddel.
Getting There: Prague and Cesky Krumlov. By Bus. We bought the tickets with Busbud.com
Prague Castle tour and Kutna Hora: With White Umbrella Tours.