Area: 496 km²
River: Vltava flows through Prague for 31 kilometres
Climate: The average annual temperature is 9°C (January: -2°C/ 28,4°F, July: 20°C/ 68°F)
Prague, City of a Hundred Spires, a UNESCO monument and one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Get to know it in person. Prague as a major destination of visitors arriving in the Czech Republic, with its appeal of architectural monuments of all styles, the traditional hospitality of its people and the excellent beer served by Czech pubs, as well as the remarkable mix of Czech, German and Jewish cultures, is considered one of the most beautiful cities, and not just in Europe but It is regularly voted among the ten most beautiful cities in Europe.
Which is the largest castle in the world? The one in Prague of course! You can wander around its courtyards, palaces, museums and garden all day long and whilst doing so, admire the overwhelming beauty of a place which has been the seat of Czech kings, emperors and presidents for a thousand years. The whole castle grounds are dominated by the monumental St. Vitus Cathedral, which is one of the most beautiful in Europe. Discover the secret of this symbol of the Czech Republic and a place which makes Prague one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
The most famous dominant feature of Prague Castle is the St. Vitus Cathedral. When you enter it, you will find yourself in a place where time has literally stood still. The beautifully decorated interior created by medieval masters is lit to perfection by the rays of sunlight which stream through the beautiful stained-glass windows. Above all make sure to view the stained-glass windows by the Czech Art Nouveau artist Alfonse Mucha. The cathedral also houses the tombs and remains of important saints and Czech rulers. You can see the tomb of St. Wenceslas here – the patron saint of the Czech lands, St. John of Nepomuk, as well as the last resting places of the emperors Charles IV and Rudolf II. Make sure to also take a look at the imposing mosaic of the Last Judgement above the Golden Gate and make the climb up to the main tower, which offers one of the most beautiful views over Prague, city of a hundred spires.
The Old Town Astronomical Clock
Every hour, hundreds of tourists from all over the world with cameras at the ready gather in front of the Old Town Hall to enjoy a fascinating mechanical performance which in the Middle Ages was considered one of the wonders of the world. The Prague Astronomical Clock, which for 600 years has been one of the greatest treasures of the city, still amazes people with its procession of Apostles, moving statues and visualization of time like no other instrument in the world.
Legends about the origins of the Prague Astronomical Clock are many. The most famous one, however, is that it was built by Master Hanuš in 1410. The city councillors at that time were so delighted with the clock that they later began to fear that Master Hanuš would build one like it for another European city. Therefore one dark night they had him blinded, and thus the wondrous clock remained only in Prague. Whether or not this legend is true, what is certain is that at the top of every hour figures on the sides of the clock become animated and two windows open up to reveal 12 apostles greeting the city. On the sides of the clock you’ll see a skeleton ringing a bell, a Turk shaking his head, a miser with a purse full of money, and Vanity looking in a mirror. The whole performance ends with the crowing of a golden rooster and the ringing of the huge bell at the top of the tower. It is also said that at the first cock-crow in the morning the ghosts and devils flee from Prague.
The Charles Bridge will never cease to fascinate the artists, photographers and poets who pay homage to it in their works. When the day’s first rays of sunlight touch the cold cobblestones and illuminate the monumental Gothic towers at both of its ends, you would be hard put to find a more romantic location. With the powerful silhouette of Prague Castle in the background and the gallery of Baroque statues on both sides, it is no wonder that this is one of the most beautiful places in Europe.
One of the many legends tells that construction of the Charles Bridge was started by the Czech king and Roman emperor Charles IV on precisely 9/7/1357 at 5.31. The reason for this was the allegedly auspicious constellation of the sun and Saturn and also the fact that this date corresponds to the sequence of odd numbers from one to nine and back. Maybe it was precisely this magical combination of numbers 1-3-5-7-9-7-5-3-1 which ensured the bridge’s endurance, magnificence and the admiration of millions of visitors from all over the world. Another of the legends tells that eggs, wine and milk were added to the mortar when the bridge was built. All of this was supposed to ensure its perfect stability for many centuries.
A Baroque gallery in the open air
You can step onto the Charles Bridge from the Old Town or Lesser Quarter side. The entrance from the Old Town is guarded by the elegant Old Town Bridge Tower, the decoration of which ranks it among the most beautiful in the world. Don’t forget to climb to the top and indulge yourself in the wonderful view of the whole 516 m long bridge and panorama of Prague, city of a hundred spires. Just past the tower, a unique Baroque gallery awaits you in the open air.
Don’t forget to take a bit of luck away with you!
From the 30 statues on the Charles Bridge, it is above all the statue of St. John of Nepomuk which stands out. Don’t forget to stroke its bronze relief work at the base. By doing so, you can be certain that you will take a little bit of this Prague luck away with you! This statue is not here by chance. It was precisely from the Charles Bridge that this saint was thrown into the Vltava. Legend tells that he did not want to divulge the queen’s secret to the king and was martyred for it. The other end of the bridge ends with the twin Gothic bridge towers of the Lesser Quarter, which have framed a million wonderful photographs taken home by visitors to Prague every year.
A morning walk to the rhythm of jazz
What is the best way to enjoy one of the most beautiful medieval bridges in the world? Get up and set out for the Charles Bridge at dawn when you will have it all to yourself. Together with the first buskers, artists or sellers of charming souvenirs, you will thus get to know the true atmosphere of this Gothic gem which has joined the two banks of the Vltava for more than 650 years.
The Municipal House is the beauty of Art Nouveau, which you can even hear. Deliberate from the details right through to the functioning whole, beautiful natural ornaments and precisely elaborated everyday items. One could describe Art Nouveau in this way – a style which engulfed the whole world at the turn of the century, the world not only of art but also fashion and everyday life. Turn back the clock a little to the magical century of steam in the spectacular Municipal House, one of the largest and best preserved in the world. Listen to Dvořák or Mozart in the Smetana Hall under the roof of this Art Nouveau gem and enjoy its beauty not only with your eyes, but with your other senses too.
The Municipal House is a dominant feature of extensive Náměstí republiky, through which one of the most important trade routes used to run, leading to the silver mines in Kutná Hora. Due to its strategic importance, the Czech rulers originally had their seat here and the coronation procession also traditionally started here. Nowadays only the Gothic tower stands testament to the glory days, firmly clinging to the beautiful building of the Municipal House designed by the architects Bolšánek and Polívka, on whose interiors Alfonse Mucha, Max Švabinský, Mikoláš Aleš and other eminent Czech and foreign artists participated.
Gastronomic paradise in the Municipal House
Sumptuous mahogany furniture, the original wallpaper and light fittings, steel clocks worked to the finest detail, an abundance of statues and pictures creating a pleasant atmosphere: How better could one enjoy the charm of the relaxed end of the century than over a glass of something nice to drink, over a plate of delicious food or whilst listening to some classical music? Visit top concerts in the Smetana Hall of the Municipal House, which holds an audience of 1,200, or enjoy Czech and international cuisine in the French restaurant, in the authentic cafe, the wine bar or the Plzeň restaurant. Invite your taste buds on a trip to Art Nouveau Prague.
The Municipal House – witness to turning points in history
Although the age of the Municipal House does not bear comparison with the Romanesque rotundas or ancient Gothic monuments, it was present at two of the most important events in modern Czech history. It was precisely here that the independence of Bohemia from the Austro-Hungarian Empire was declared, thus leading to the creation of the first independent Czechoslovak Republic in 1918. And it was right here a few years later in 1989 that the future president of the democratic Czech Republic, Václav Havel, first met with representatives of the communist regime, which would soon fall. Think back for a moment to medieval knights and kings and set out on a wander around Prague also taking in places where the modern Czech state was born.
The Gothic Powder Tower guards the Municipal House
If you miss following in the footsteps of history long past when visiting the Municipal House, climb the Gothic Powder Tower. Apart from a view over Prague you can also familiarise yourself here with a time when the Municipal House was a thing of the distant future and the Royal Court – seat of the Czech rulers – spread out over this site.
Unveil the stories of the Jewish Ghetto in Prague!
Few European cities can boast a better preserved Jewish Ghetto than Prague. Six synagogues, a Jewish Town Hall, magical cemetery and the unique genius loci make Josefov in Prague a place which you should certainly not leave out when you are wandering around the “Golden City”. Get to know the unsettled history of the Prague Jews, their architecture, traditions, customs and stories, which rank among some of the most tragic of the 20th century.
Paradoxically, the Jewish Town has Adolf Hitler to thank for its well-preserved condition. It was the Nazi leader himself who decided to establish the “Museum of an Extinct Race” in Prague. Thanks to this, valuables from the occupied countries were gathered in this area and the largest collection of Jewish items in Europe was created here. Nowadays, Josefov is again a lively place with a good-sized Jewish community. Visiting it will provide you with an insight into another piece of the mosaic of the development of Prague, “City of a Hundred Spires”.
The place where Golem rests
As soon as you walk down luxurious Pařížská Street, you will find yourself in front of the imposing frontage of the Old New Synagogue. Make sure to take a tour of it. Not only is it the oldest preserved synagogue in the whole of Europe, but its magical interior also hides many a point of interest. According to one of the legends, this is the resting place of the legendary Golem – the predecessor of Frankenstein’s monster, which was brimming over with great strength and which was the subject of interest of many kings and emperors.
Six synagogues, countless stories
You will find a silent memorial to the victims of the holocaust in the Pinkas Synagogue. Its walls hold the longest epitaph in the world, which lists the names of those who died in the Nazi concentration camps. You will also find wonderful examples of Jewish architecture in the Maisel, Klaus and above all Spanish Synagogue, whose interior will astound you with its wonderful golden decoration. Not far from the Old New Synagogue, you can also see the Jewish Town Hall with its picturesque little tower, which is one of the symbols of the Prague ghetto.
A place with a unique charm
Mysterious gravestones layered on top of one another, a game of light and shade, the quiet rustling of branches and a thousand stories which played out here. This is the Old Jewish Cemetery, one of the largest in the world. Thanks to the limited space and Jewish custom, which makes it impossible to disturb old graves, the cemetery has been covered with earth several times, and new graves were created in it. Nowadays, there are as many as twenty layers on top of each other in some places here.
Further information can be found at www.pis.cz.