Known as one of Europe’s best preserved and most beautiful cities, Prague beckons travelers to come and explore its wonderful charms. From its massive hilltop castle to its many beautiful gardens, Prague makes one yearn to return again and again to wander its narrow winding streets admiring its historic architecture.
Prague, nicknamed “the golden city of a hundred spires” has become one of Europe’s top travel destinations. Located in the heart of Central Europe, between Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Austria, the capital of the Czech Republic is gorgeous and one that you should visit at least once in your lifetime.
The Vltava River divides Prague into two parts, the left bank and the right bank. On its steep left bank, the Prague Castle dominates the picturesque skyline. Dating back over 1,000 years, Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world and has been designated a Unesco World Heritage Site. The complex consists of the 14th century St Vitus Cathedral, the old Royal Palaces, St. George’s Basilica, manicured gardens and the charming Golden Lane.
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Winding streets take you down from the palace through the neighborhood called Lesser Town (Malá Strana) where there are additional palaces, the church of St Nicholas and beautiful old houses. Wander the side streets and you will find small shops, nice restaurants, some which have lovely views of the river and traditional Czech beer pubs.
Kampa is a beautiful island in the Vltava River and is part of Lesser Town. It is a delightful area with a museum, a very pleasant park, and the Lennon Wall, a big tourist draw. The canal that runs under Charles Bridge and through Kampa is known as Devil’s Stream. From here, you can join boat tours that will take you along the canal to see the lovely old houses, many of which are former mills.
On the opposite bank of the Vltava, you will find the original medieval Old Town, (Staré Město). All that is needed to get from one side to the other is to walk across the pedestrian Charles Bridge, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Europe.
The picturesque statue lined 14th century stone bridge is the perfect place to take the most romantic photos of boats gliding through the water with the castles in the background. Unfortunately everyone knows this and it is extremely crowded, especially in summer so visit in the early morning or in the evening for less crowds. Over 30 pretty bridges connect either side of Prague but the Charles Bridge is the most popular.
The Old Town Square is a large medieval marketplace lined with Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau buildings that include the St Nicholas Church and the Church of Our Lady before Tyn whose spires you can see as soon as you enter from any of the approaching side streets. Here you will also find the Astronomical Clock which is built into one side of the Old Town Hall. It is one of the world’s oldest fully functional astronomical clocks. At the center of the square is the Jan Hus Memorial.
My husband and I found Prague to be a fascinating part of the world to explore. It was the only Central European capital to escape large scale bombings so there is stunning historical architecture, the largest ancient castle complex in the world, narrow cobblestone streets and the lovely Vltava River with it’s historic bridge lined with thirty statues of saints to enjoy. We very much enjoyed our brief visit and found Lesser Town (Malá Strana) to be a nice district to stay in as it is quieter and far less crowded than Old Town. We chose the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for our stay, a modern hotel in a former monastery. However after visiting the castle, most of our time in Prague was spent on the other side of the river. If we were to visit Prague again, we would probably try staying somewhere in the Staré Město district.