Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, is one of the largest cities in central Europe and among the richest in the continent in cultural attractions and historical sights. This old Bohemian capital survived all of the destruction and violence that Europe suffered throughout the twentieth century, thus Prague deservedly merits its UNESCO title as a World Heritage Site.
Situated at the margins of the Vlatva River, Prague has an array of cultural options that include world renowned museums, theaters and galleries. This well-preserved city is filled with stunning landmarks and its most famous are the Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, the old central square, the astronomical clock and the Vysehrad.
The site Tripadvisor lists Prague as the sixth best place to visit in the world and it is the most visited city in Europe after London, Paris, Rome and Istambul. A day spent visiting Prague is a journey into the past and a live class on European culture, history and architectural styles. Since it suffered far less damage during the world wars than other European capitals such as Warsaw or Berlin, Prague’s structures remain intact and showcase a collection of styles that go from Romanesque to Gothic, Renaissance to Baroque and Arte Nouveau to Neoclassic.
My day in Prague started by using the efficient tram system, which is silent, eco-friendly and inexpensive. I left Nove Mesto, the new part of town (also called Prague 2) where I was staying, all the way across the Vlatva river and into the old part of town called Mala Strana. This is the hilltop where the old Prague castle is situated.
Mala Strana is indeed a trip into past. Walking through the gardens of the old Palace of the Bohemian kings is a great introduction to the area and it is open to the public free of charge. Behind the gardens well-laid paths and flower beds there is the official residence of the President, as well as the Gothic Cathedral of St. Vitus.
The interior of St Vitus’ Cathedral is impressive and can also be visited free of charge. Founded in 1344, the cathedral is rich in details through its stained glass windows, gargoyles, vaulted ceilings, and the main altar.
Descending the medieval steps of Malá Strana it is easy to reach the famous Charles Bridge. Medieval gates open onto the old bridge offering a lively crossing of the Vlatva River among artists, musicians and, of course, many fellow tourists. Even though it is a fairly crowed spot, walking across Charles Bridge manages to retain a certain peaceful charm. Anywhere along the bridge there are stunning panoramic views of both sides of Prague and from there it is easy to understand why Prague is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
The capital of the Czech Republic has seemingly endless landmarks and tourist spots. However, a visit to the city would not be complete without spending time in the old town square where the astronomical clock continues to keep track of time since 1410.
Prague is a place where 3 days are easily filled with things to do. Therefore one day in Prague may feel tight in order to visit the city leisurely. As I had been to Prague before, I chose to visit a slightly out of the way attraction: Vysehrad. Located in Nove Mesto and close to the where I was staying, Vysehrad is worth the extra mile. There is a legend that says that Vysehrad is the city’s birthplace as it is thought to be where the first settlement took place in the region. Today this hilltop is a quiet park behind the fortified walls. It houses an old cemetery, St. Peter and Paul basilica, a sculpture park, a few of the city’s vineyards and, above all, expansive views of the city.
As for a place to stay I highly recommend the Park Inn Hotel located in Nove Mesto, Prague 2, or the new part of town. The hotel is housed in a restored palace in a quiet residential area close to the river and next to the Vysehrad. Besides all the comforts of a solid 4 star property such as a quality sheets, a powerful shower and plush mattresses, the Park Inn offers a wonderful rooftop terrace next to the spacious gym. Lounging in one of its chaises admiring the scenic views is the perfect end of the day treat to a memorable stay in this remarkable city.
With all its beauty and richness, it is easy to understand why Prague is a World Heritage Site and considered one the best and most visited old world destinations.
Gus Dantas, publisher gusdantaslife, visited Prague in July 2016. This is his second visit to the city. Translation and photos by the author.