This summer I had the pleasure of visiting the capital of the Czech Republic
Prague has always been one of the cities I’ve dreamed of visiting, every picture I’ve seen of it was always beautiful and as you may of guessed by now, I definitely have an eye for old buildings and Prague is jam packed with them, so this year I made the decision to use my birthday as an excuse to spend a few days there.
Starting off our trip with a gentle stroll along the mighty Vltava river, passing beautifully decorated buildings and grand bridges, eventually reaching the historic world-famous Charles Bridge.
Helping Bohemians get from old town to the imposing Prague Castle since 1357, the Charles bridge is made famous by its 30 gothic statues of saints and patron saints, which stand guard on either side of the walkway and seemingly beckoning you from one side to the other. (It’s worth noting that early morning is the best time to visit as the afternoon and evening get very busy).
Rather than heading straight up to Prague Castle, we instead chose to checkout Petrin hill, a large park on the left bank of the river, made famous by the Petrin Lookout Tower, a large observation tower, closely modeled upon the Eiffel Tower, standing proud above the city since 1891, giving some of the best vistas of the city to tourists ever since.
To get to the tower, the two best choices are either to walk up the hill through the picturesque park or the much quicker Funicular Railway which run every couple of minutes and drop you off not far from the entrance of the tower, once there you also get an easy or hard option for getting to the top, either walking up the spiralling staircase or paying a little bit more to use the lift. Either way the views at the top are well worth the effort getting up there, provides no lovely vistas of the city centre, the castle and Charles Bridge.
The second day we once again made our way to the left bank of the river, this time heading up towards the sprawling Prague Castle, choosing to make the most of the tram network once again to take us from our hotel to the home to Czech royalty and presidents since the 9th century and recognised as the largest ancient castle in the world.
Not like the castles I’m used to back home, rather than standing out Prague Castle is designated to blend in with its surroundings, only the cathedral there to help visitors know where to head to when wishing to visit the Czech seat of power.
With its high ceilings and beautiful stain glass windows, the first thing to greet you as you enter castle walls is the grandiose St. Vitus cathedral towering high up above you and practically invites you inside.
In contrast to the massive gothic cathedral, the rest of the buildings inside the castle walls are more understated, this however doesn’t take away from their charms, the palaces are interesting to stroll around, one providing beautiful sights over the city via a modern balcony, one showcasing every day life of Czeck nobility and the third playing home to the crown jewels.
Backing onto the palaces and cathedral was the Golden Lane, a 16th century row of houses and shops that lead down to the former castle dungeons, the perfect place to do some gift shopping while here.
After exploring every quarter of the castle, we decided to walk back into town rather than use the tram, this takes between 20-30 minutes but takes you through the castle gardens and along the riverside, well worth it if you don’t mind the walk
Once back over the Charles Bridge you’re smack bang in the middle of the tourist trail, with rows of gift shops, restaurants and bars to explore, bringing you out in the lovely Old Town Square and past the world-famous Astronomical Clock
Old town square is the perfect places to grab something to eat and plan your afternoon, with every side-street leading to something different, such as pirate themed confectionary shops, brass bands playing Abba, museums of sex toys or even street markets selling baskets of tasty fruit and veg
No trip to Prague is complete without making use of all the activities the river brings, be it chilling on a pedalo, partying on a riverside boat bar or cruising along the Vitava as the sun sets behind some of Pragues most famous sights.
On the final morning we decided to explore the Jewish Quarter in more detail, walking around some of the many synagogues and the Old Jewish Cemetery that sits in between them, well worth a visit if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre.
My personal favourite was the Pinkas Synagogue, with its moving monument to the 78,000 Czech victims of the holocaust, with all the names of known victims written on the walls, along with a permanent exhibition of art drawn by the child prisoners of concentration camps.
Visiting Prague really was a treat, with exciting places to explore seemingly around every corner, if you enjoy beautiful buildings, great weather and cheap food and drink, then Prague really is the place for you.