The way I came about organizing this little getaway in Prague is that I had a week in between my two semesters abroad where I had finished my exams in Switzerland and started university in Spain. I thought of a few places I have never been to but would love to experience, and ended up by randomly choosing Prague (honestly it looks so good on instagram!) .
I must admit I did not check the weather before making my decision - only after purchasing plane tickets did we check the temperatures and notice that they would be varying between -7 and -12. Luckily I had my little practice in Zermatt where temperatures were reaching -17 on the top of the mountain.
Anyway Prague really is a city full of art, history and culture – and there really is a lot to see. Luckily all the important things are very close together and therefore it is possible to see everything in a few days. I have put together a “Top Things” to see in Prague so you know what to prioritize.
Charles Bridge is a highly symbolic construction and Prague’s landmark. Its construction started in 1356 and was finished around 1400’s, built by Emperor Charles IV (hence the name which was given to the bridge in 1870). This was the most important bridge in Prague’s history as it was the only means of crossing the Vlatava River until 1841. Charles’s bridge is composed of 30 statues and statuaries in baroque style, which today have been replaced by replicas. These statues depict saints and patrons that were venerated at that time.
St. Vitus Cathedral
Both the inside and outside are spectacular; it is an architectural masterpiece. The construction of this building began in 1344 and was completed entirely by 1929. Visitors can enter the first part of the Cathedral for free, however for the Great South Tower you need to buy a ticket for 150 CZK. In this part you can climb up the tower, see the bell and enjoy another spectacular view of the city.
St. George’s Basilica
It is one of the oldest buildings in the Prague castle and the best-preserved Romanesque church. It was founded in 920 and was later enlarged in 973 with the construction of St. George’s Benedictine convent. The beautiful baroque façade seen today was added in the seventeenth century. Inside this little basilica you will see paintings, beautiful frescos and several tombs of important individuals such as prince Vratislav and Boleslav II. In the evening St. Georges Basilica hosts classical concerts so if you are thinking of something different to do after dinner then take a look at their programme and book some tickets: https://www.pragueexperience.com/opera-concerts/opera-concerts.asp
The Dancing house was built over four years, with its completion date being 1996. This is one of the most architecturally interesting buildings in Prague, designed by the Croatian-Czech architecture Vlado Milunić joint with Frank Gehry – a Canadian architect. It was considered very controversial at the time of its building as its architecture really stood out amongst the beautiful gothic, baroque and Renaissance architecture.
The reason as to why it is called the dancing house is because it resembles two dancers; In fact the architect Gehry nicknamed it Fred and Ginger after two famous dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
This astronomical observatory was founded in 1928 and is dedicated to the famous astronomer Milan Rastislav Štefánik. The role of this building is astronomical research and related natural sciences. It is possible to visit the permanent astronomical exhibition that offers an insight to the basics of astronomy. During the day it is possible to look through the telescope in the main dome and observe the solar disk with sunspots and solar flares through a chromospheric telescope. The opening times in the summer are mostly in the afternoon/evening during weekdays and almost all day at the weekend. Pricing starts at 65 CZK for a basic adult entrance fee. For more information about this site take a look at their website: https://www.observatory.cz/english.html
This monastery was founded in the fourteenth century. Sadly during the second world was it was taken over by the Gestapo and the monks were sent off to concentration camps. It was then almost destroyed by bombings in 1945 and in 1960 the bell tower was rebuilt. This historical building is worth seeing as it is one of a few gothic architectures left in Prague.
The Old Town Square
Probably seen as one of the most important areas of Prague and of course the heart and centre of the old town. The Old Town Square is known for its great importance to the old town of the city. Since the tenth century it was used as the main market, with potters, craftsmen, farmers and bakers selling their goods. From the fourteenth century is gained political importance as well as economic importance for the establishment of the old town city hall and the building of the gothic church "The Church of the Virgin Mary in front of Týn". Later on in history the square has been used for protests and riots. The three must see sights of the square are the Astronomical clock, The Týn Cathedral and St. Nicholas Church. Walking up the Astronomical Clock tower is essential when visiting Prague as you get one of the best views of the city.
Every hour the astronomical clock puts on a mini "spectacle" with a mesmerising mechanical performance of 12 moving apostles and other sculptures. The hour is announced with a bell. It is quite a fascination and worth spending the few minutes wait. The enchanting astronomical dial is a medieval perception of the universe, with the earth at the center. Three different clocks are shown on the dial: Czech time, Central European Time (shown with roman numerals) and Babylonian time shown by arabic numerals. The length of the hour is altered depending upon the season and this clock is the only one in the world to be able to measure this.
Jewish Walking Tour
This walk provides an intellectually enriching experience where you learn about the tragedies of the Jewish community in the twentieth century. Adults pay 920 CZK and students pay 830 CZK, for more information visit the website: https://www.pragueexperience.com/places.asp?PlaceID=1138
The National Liberation Memorial was completed in 1938 honoring the Czech legionaries. It was then rebuilt in the fifteenth century to commemorate the second anti-Nazi resistance. Important representatives of the Communist party were buried here until they were taken away in 1989. In the twenty-first century this memorial became part of the National Museum, which opened it to the public in 2009. – If you climb the hill and reach the memorial, not only you will be exposed to an important part of Prague’s history but also you can enjoy a spectacular view over the city.
(For information on how to reach the memorial, check out their website: http://www.nm.cz/Hlavni-strana/Visit-Us/National-Memorial-on-the-Vitkov-Hill.html?xSET=lang&xLANG=2 )
Looking for a fun experience in Prague? The beer museum was probably my favorite in the city. For as little as 280CZK per person (10 Euros Aprox) you have the entry into the museum and 4 half pints of beer. For 480 CZK (19 Euros Aprox) you have the entry, the 4 half pints of beer, certificate and bottling your own beer. The museum is a great activity as you get a close insight into the secrets and the ways Czech beer is made. You look at the differences between different malts and hops and you complete the tour in thirteenth century cellars with the tasting of four different types of Czech beer.
Open from Monday-Sunday: 11.00AM-8.00PM