Prague is the beautiful capital city of the Czech Republic, located in the very heart of Europe. It is an important cultural, educational and economic centre with incredible history and superb architecture.
The state’s largest city is home to over 1.25 million people and the surrounding urban zone’s population reaches almost 2 million.
Prague’s history dates back to the 6th century and over the past, it has gone through periods of large fame and glory.
It used to be the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia and major residence of Charles IV and other Holy Roman Emperors. It also served as the political and cultural centre for the central part of Europe.
Prague is a city which got spared from any bombing during wars and thus has incredibly well preserved architecture and number of historical buildings.
You would hardly look for a building without any interesting history.
The entire historic centre of the city belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage list. It is also home to several major museums, educational institutions (such as the Charles University), galleries and theatres
Prague – Old Town
If you think about the fact that Prague, as such, is a very old city and the Old Town of Prague is its oldest part, you get an interesting destination for a visit.
The Old Town of Czech capital is a settlement established in the medieval times (turning into a town in the 13th century) and thanks to the incredible preservation of most of the attractions and buildings, the atmosphere and ambience are marvelous.
The Old Town used to be separated by a wall and a moat (at the area of today’s main street called On the Moat), as well as by the Vltava River on both sides. One of the biggest highlights are the Old Town Square with the famous Astronomical Clock in it, the Powder Gate with the spectacular 65 metres tall Powder Tower, Municipal House, Carolinum as a part of the Charles University, the Old Town Hall or for instance the Bethlehem Chapel.
The entire historic centre of the city, including the Old Town with the famous Charles Bridge connecting another part of Prague called the Lesser Town, belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Prague – Charles Bridge
The breathtaking Charles Bridge is undisputably one of the most iconic sites of Prague.
There is a reason why this Bridge is sometimes named the most beautiful one in Europe and definitely the most beautiful one of all Czech bridges.
The historic Charles Bridge dates back to 1390 when an architect Peter Parler completed its structure as per the wish of Charles IV.
One of the legends says that the construction was enhanced by eggs mixed into the grout. The gothic Bridge was initially serving also for a traffic reasons, although, due to its historical importance, has served for pedestrians only since the World War II.
The Bridge across the Vltava River is decorated by 30 statues in mostly baroque style. The oldest one is the statue of St John of Nepomuk, also being the most famous one. The legend advices to touch the bronze plaque for a good luck.
Nowadays, the Charles Bridge is a crowded alley packed with tourists, buskers and small souvenirs sellers – yet it remains the utter must do in Prague.
Prague – St Vitus Cathedral
Another one of Prague’s most popular places to visit, St Vitus Cathedral will take your breath away. The construction of this religious landmark took almost 600 years with the foundation stone laid in 1344.
Tthe choir was build by the original architect Matthias of Arras in the French Gothic style. Most of the eastern part was done in the gothic style before 1399 by Peter Parler. There were some Renaissance and Baroque parts added over the following years and centuries.
The decision about finishing the Cathedral was eventually made in 1861, also thanks to the Czech National Revival and final consecration took place in 1929.
This incredible blend of styles from various architects and eras is what makes the St Vitus Cathedral so beautiful and unique.
The interior in no less impressive – stained glass windows designed by Alfons Mucha create a humbling atmosphere. The Cathedral situated within the Prague Castle Complex is nowadays a Roman Catholic one and serves as a seat of the Archbishop of Prague.
The main tower is reaching 96.5 metres in height and the whole church is the largest and most important one in the entire country.
Trojan basin in the north of Prague is home to one of the most beautiful ZOOs in the world. Once included in the top 10 ZOOs worldwide (rated as 7th by Forbes Travel Guide, 2008), the Prague ZOO should not miss your attention.
The ZOO opened in 1931 nowadays covers more than 58 hectares and takes care of more than 4 200 animals of about 650 species.
Some of them (around 130) are listed as threatened. Among of the most popular attractions belong for instance the newly added Indonesian Jungle pavilion which is home to the famous and endangered komodo dragon; Monkey Island; the Chinese giant salamander with its special pavilion; or the Elephant Valley.
The Prague ZOO is open Monday to Sunday 9am till 6pm during spring and summer and 9am till 4pm during winter, with exceptions for Christmas day. The Zoo also offers night tours.
Prague – Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden in Prague is proud on its diversity and glory. The Garden spans on the area of around 50 hectares and is located on the right bank of the Vltava River, just next to the Prague ZOO.
There are several highlights of the Garden – the biggest one is, indeed, the tropical Fata Morgana Greenhouse. Visitors are also invited to enjoy the beauty of Japanese Gardens or the Vineyard of St.
Claire with historical value. Among the open space exhibitions belong also the Peony Meadow and frost-hard cacti collection.
Old Town Hall and Astronomical Clock
“Orloj““ as Czechs call the Astronomical Clock is like a magnet for tourists. The top attraction of the Old Town Square is the Old Town Hall with its Astronomical Clock within.
The building itself was constructed in 1338 with a purpose to serve as a seat of the Old Town administration. The Gothic Tower is one of the oldest parts and proudly presents the old continent’s most known tourist attraction – the performance of twelve apostles.
Even though the entire show lasts only 45 seconds (can be seen every day between 9am and 11pm) and is rather overrated, you cannot leave the city without seeing it.
The astronomical clock itself is a true masterpiece – it is the third oldest one in the world and the very oldest one still functioning. The top of the Old Town Hall then offers gorgeous view over the city and the Square underneath.
Prague – Lesser Town
Lesser Town (in Czech Malá Strana) is another district of the Czech capital. The exact translation from Czech means the Little Side and it comes from the location on the left bank of the Vltava River – the left side used to cover smaller area and the larger right side of the town.
Even though, the area was originally named the New Town of Prague, later changed by Charles IV during its establishment in 17th century.
Lesser Town is a picturesque area with plenty of historical buildings, houses with interesting past, legends surrounding almost every place, cobbled streets and small shops and restaurants. You would probably hardly look for more romantic place because the atmosphere of Lesser Town is simply breathtaking.
It used to be centre for Ethnic Germans in the middle ages and it was a place for noble houses over the past. All this left a charming ambience which lives through modern history and nowadays.
Vyšehrad in translation means “Castle on the heights” and that technically speaks for itself. Vyšehrad is a beautiful gateway for all locals, located just in the city centre, but far from all the crowds and tourists.
It is a peaceful garden area on the hill offering some of the most beautiful views over the city and the Vltava River.
There is also a fort built somewhere in the 10th century. The castle / fort also includes the Basilica of St Peter and Paul and the Vyšehrad Cemetery which contains graves and remains of many famous composers, artists and writers from the Czech history.
Those include for example Bedřich Smetana, Karel Čapek, Antonín Dvořák or Alphonse Mucha.
A fine complex of various rooms, all wrapped up in a superb Art Nouveau interior – that and much more is the Prague Municipal House.
One of the finest concert venues in Europe houses for example the iconic Smetana Hall, ballroom and a concert hall, elegant French restaurant, exhibition rooms, cafe and much more.
The Municipal House is located on the Republic Square, only couple of steps from the Powder Gate and the Old Town Square.
Prague – St Nicholas Cathedral
Lesser Town’s St Nicholas Cathedral in Prague is, said by many, one of the most charming buildings in the city.
The gorgeous church was constructed in 1755 in a Gothic style, even though in the 17th century, there was a new building erected instead of the old Gothic one and it nowadays serves as an impressive example of Baroque style in Prague.
The new building was designed by Italian architect Giovanni Domenico Orsi who was aiming to impress. And he sure did.
The great size and amazing interior, all together with stunning panoramic views over the city from the top are highlights inviting every visitor to take a deep breath and explore this monumental Cathedral.
Petřín Hill and Tower
Petřín Hill and the Observatory Tower on its top belong to popular gateway spots of all locals. This green oasis right in the city centre offers welcomed escape from all the city hustle.
The 60 metres tall Observation Tower Petřín (Petřínská rozhledna) was built as a little version of the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris in 1891 for the General Land Centennial Exhibition.
Nowadays, the Petřín Tower is a place to go for some of the most breathtaking views over the red-rooftops city.
Other attractions of the Petřín Hill include for instance the Mirror Maze or the Rose Garden.
There are two option how to get up to the top of the Hill – one is by your own feet and the other is by using the funicular running every 10 to 15 minutes.
Another iconic building of the Czech capital is indeed its National Theater. The finest representative stage of the entire nation is situated on the Vltava River bank.
It was opened in 1881, although an extensive tragedy in form of a fire destroyed its dome and stage shortly after.
A determination of the nation was so strong that they created a collection to rebuild the Theater – and only within 47 days, enough money was collected to start the reconstruction.
The re-opening took place in 1883. Nowadays, the National Theatre represents the most important cultural institution in the Czech Republic.
Visitors can come to see ballet, opera and drama performances.
A long and relatively wide wall running up the Petrin Hill and crossing its park is what used to be a defensive wall of Prague’s Lesser Town.
The Wall was built in 1362 under Charles IV rule. The initial purpose was to secure the defence and protect the Prague Castle where the King used to reside.
There were several modification to the wall over the past centuries. The name „Hunger Wall“ comes from the times of its construction.
A myth says that the true purpose of the Wall was not to protect the Town but to provide employment to the poor and thus to “feed them”.
Prague – State Opera
The Prague State Opera is one of the parts of the National Theatre of the Czech Republic. The opera house was opened in 1888 under the name of the New German Theatre (for the German minority living in Prague at that time).
It was also known under the name of Smetana Theatre during the 20th century. Its current name came after the Velvet Revolution in 1989, representing the efforts to regain independence. These days, the State Opera houses circa 300 performances each year.
The Dancing House in Prague (also known as Fred and and Ginger) is located on the Rašín Embankment on the Vltava River bank.
It is one of the most impressive and contradictory modern buildings in the country. Architects Vlado Milunic and Frank Gehry achieved in creating a deconstructivist building in 1996 which attracts tourists from all over the world.
The unique glass twisted structure resembles two dancing bodies (the famous dancing duo Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers) and is supported by almost a hundred concrete panels of different shapes.
Inside of the building is occupied by a gallery, hotel and a restaurant with a terrace offering beautiful view.
Prague Castle and Lobkowicz Palace
The most important castle in the Czech Republic is, indeed, the one situated in its capital. Dating back to the incredible 9th century, it has not only an unbelievable historic value, but since it has always been a residence of kings, emperors and nowadays presidents, it is an outstanding cultural heritage.
The Lobkowicz Palace is then part of the Prague Castle Complex. It is a building in private ownership housing popular Museum and Lobkowicz Collections.
The construction of the Baroque Palace took place during the 16th century, yet, it was opened to