Ciao! I hope you have been enjoying our little virtual tour! The next and final stop is Prague. Prague (in the Czech Republic) is an enchanting city that belongs in a fairytale. Seriously I think Disney may have stolen some ideas from them. Here are my highlights from my time in Prague.
The Astronomical Clock Tower and Old Town Hall
Located in the old town square, the Astronomical clock tower is a medieval clock built in 1410 and is the oldest working clock in the world. It’s visually appealing with a zodiac calendar in addition to the clock and the figurines that move. The most popular part is the parade of the apostles every hour yet it is one of the most overrated. Basically the little figurines on the clock move and a door opens up and the 12 apostles (figures from the Bible) rotate around. It’s pretty impressive for medieval times yet not for 2020. People wait for the hour to catch a glimpse of the “show” and try to get a video. If you can catch it, great, if not don’t worry about it. You can just look it up on YouTube and get a better view.
The real gem is the Old Town Hall and the underground tour. When the town hall was built in the 15th century the city level was several feet below the ground of where it is today. You can take a tour of the what used to be the town hall, and old house and dungeons, which are actually pretty cool. You can also climb up to the top of the tower and catch a breath-taking, all around view of the city.
You know I love my castles. Prague Castle is definitely on my list of favorites. The entire Prague Castle complex consists of many different palaces, churches, and buildings in many different styles including Baroque, Mannerism, Renaissance, Neo Gothic, and Romanesque. The castle itself has a beautiful exterior, gardens, and courtyard. I think I may have found my new summer home! (Just kidding because after this trip I am broke). There is also a monastery called Strahov monastery with a brewery, restaurant, and outdoor courtyard that makes good beer. I didn’t get to visit the interior however. There is only so much time. But the beautiful exteriors were enough for me. When you exit the castle complex there is a cute pathway with lots of little shops to check out. Which brings me to my next sight.
St. Vitus Cathedral
St. Vitus Cathedral may have a special place in my heart because St. Vitus is the patron saint of dancers. Of course, I had to do a ballet pose in front of this building’s gorgeous, gothic architecture. The cathedral is in the same complex as Prague castle so you get two stops in one.
The Charles bridge is a medieval bridge built to connect the old town and lesser town sides of the city along the Vltava river. It’s a beautiful bridge to take a stroll during the daytime and see setups by local artists or take an evening walk across the bridge and see the city all lit up. There is also a legend that egg yolks were used in the material to construct the bridge to strengthen it.
John Lennon Wall
The John Lennon wall is probably one of the coolest and retro things about Prague. it began after John Lennon’s death in the 80s as a way to protest communist rule and promote free speech and freedom of expression. There is even a John Lennon pub and souvenir shops right across from the wall. People used to be able to write on the wall but the Czech government doesn’t allow it any more since some used to deface the art and write inappropriate things. To me that seems contradictory to the overall message of the wall and ending censorship. Nevertheless the messages of “imagining all of the people sharing all the world” and “giving peace a chance” are still there.
The Klementinum library is a famous library in Prague used by famous astronomers and philosophers in the 18th century. Known for its beautiful interior, the library is on many lists of must sees in Prague. It was on my list but after seeing it, it was a bit of a let down. The library is kept under lock and key in a temperature and light controlled room. You can’t even walk through the library. Bascallically I got to walk in about three feet and looked for about a minute from a platform and wasn’t even allowed to take pictures. I then walked up what seemed like hundreds of slightly frightening stairs to the astronomical view tower. Although, I have to say the view from the top was worth the trek. I am glad that I went. I feel that if I hadn’t I would have felt that I had missed out on something. However if you have limited time I would skip it.
The Dancing House is a unique piece of architecture. It is a gallery and restaurant that can be visited to get a 360 aerial view of Prague. Built in 1996 it was inspired by dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and is supposed to mimic the movement when they dance. This is the location you walk or drive by and snap a quick picture.
Church of Our Lady before Tyn
I know, I know, another european church. But this church is a fairytale, medieval fantasy. It is so pretty with its castle like towers and looks like it came straight out of a Disney movie. I am definitely loving my queen fantasy.
Prague District 1 is the municipal center of Prague and the most populated. There are a lot of your traditional global shops but also some high end local stores with great fashion. I found a lot of great shops that aren’t too touristy and had great souvenirs made by locals. If you want a nice souvenir from Prague, buy garnet. It is the garnet making capital of the world. I bought a garnet ring which was even more special to me because garnet is my birthstone. I also stumbled across sweet shops that literally had barrels full of candy. I was the literal definition of a kid in a candy store. I also found a store that made cosmetics out of beer! I tried the beer lip balm and it worked pretty well. You also have to shop the old town square. The old town square is more touristy as it is where many attractions are located. It is also a hub for restaurants and shops. The Lucerna Passage runs under the Lucerna palace and definitely worth it to “czech” it out (see what I did there). It is a shopping center with unique local boutiques, a wine shop, a cafe, and nightclubs.
Food and Drink Places
I have a smaller list of food to try because most of the food in Prague is similar to other places in Bohemia/ Eastern Europe. That being said, I still have a list of must try dishes. The first is roast duck. It may not sound appetizing to some but it’s actually really good. I had some at a brewery/restaurant called Dlouhááá (I don’t know why so many a’s at the end.) They usually come with potato or bread dumplings so meat and carb overload! Speaking of meat overload, another classic Czech dish is pork knuckle. Pork knuckle is just the knee of the pig and a huge piece of meat on a place usually served with fries. This is definitely not the place for vegetarians. I don’t like pork so I asked for a vegetarian dish instead of the pork knuckle and guess what they gave me–fried cheese!! Another classic Czech dish and their answer to people who don’t eat meat. It is basically like one big mozzarella stick served with fries just to add more fried food. Also if you like Beer Prague is the place to drink it. Beer is literally cheeper than water. Which is evident since it’s in their cosmetics.
For those with a sweet tooth try the Choco Cafe. This is a cafe that makes artisan chocolate, homemade pastries, and hot chocolate so thick it’s like hot pudding in a cup (in a good way). They also have a tasty brunch and breakfast menu. If you are wondering where to go out at night Karlovy Lezine is a famous five story club where each floor plays different music. There is a polar bar, oxygen bar, the floor that plays radio hits, the “oldies floor,” and the disco floor which also has a robot bar. You order the drinks from a tablet and the robot makes you your drink. This club was very fun. The only downside is that they only take cash, there is a cover charge, and since we went on a Sunday night two of the floors were closed. If you go on a weeknight it is a lot less crowded but doesn’t get going until really late at night, so it depends on the experience you want.
Another really cool bar is called the Anonymous Shrinks Office. The main bar is upstairs and you have to push a button, where the staff opens a hidden door to visit another downstairs area. Since I went with a large group we had a private room that was hidden behind a bookcase! The way this bar works is they give you a selection of ink blot paintings like the ones psychologists used to use for their patients. The painting you choose determines which drink they give you! My drink fit my personality perfectly which was kind of scary. It was a bougie looking cookies and milk themed drink made with Vodka, vanilla and sour milk (sounds gross but actually really good) and a side of mini cookies. One girl got a drink with popcorn, another got a tropical themed drink. If that hasn’t sold you our waiter was really cute too!
Prague is another underrated city that should be on everyone’s travel list. I really enjoyed my time there and will certainly be going back. One of the girls I traveled with loved it so much she said she wanted to move there! I thoroughly enjoyed my trip with EF ultimate break and definitely recommend you try them out. I will be posting a little review of the company and my overall experience. I hope you enjoyed this little virtual tour!
Cau! (Ciao in Czech)