The beautiful city of Prague boasts history, intricate architecture and world-class museums. Its medieval skyline is packed with white buildings beneath orange and green roof tops among hundreds of spires, aka “city of 100 spires”.
We began our visit walking the grounds of the Prague Castle overlooking the compact city. Within the castle’s walls we toured the Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, St. Vitus Cathedral and Golden Lane.
Old Royal Palace dates back to the 12th century with one of its halls now being used for inaugurations.
St. George’s Basilica was the second church at the castle and houses the tomb of prince Vratislav, father of St. Wenceslas.
My favorite, the Gothic style St. Vitus Cathedral, is the largest and most important temple in Prague. It is the seat of Prague’s Archbishop and contains tombs of many Holy Roman Emperors and Bohemian Kings.
Golden lane is a strip of tiny homes once occupied by servants, defenders and goldsmiths (hence the name “Golden Lane”, formerly “Goldsmith Lane”). The houses line a narrow cobblestone alleyway with short entry doors leading to their quaint quarters. Famous persons such as: writer Franz Kafka, fortune-teller Madame de Thebes and member of the guard called “Red Musket”, resided in these dwellings.
At the end of Golden Lane is a torture chamber at the bottom of the White Tower filled with instruments that would make most cringe! It’s agonizing to think of the pain the victims endured and hard to fathom how people could be so cruel!
Outside the castle walls we headed towards the city center, stopping along the way at the Lennon Wall. The wall is decorated in graffiti dedicated to John Lennon. It’s gaining more and more attention every year but is unfortunately being tagged with signatures of tourists.
We then crossed over the Vltava River on the iconic St. Charles Bridge. It was the most important connection from Prague Castle to Old Town as it was the only means of transit across the water up until 1841.
The stone bridge is lined with 30 statues and protected by 3 towers. You may also have seen the bridge make its debut in the movie Mission Impossible!
8 years ago, I was given a generous college graduation gift from my sister and brother to travel Europe. One of my favorite pictures is the 3 of us on this bridge. I made it a point to recreate this photo with me and JC!
After weaving in and out of the streets of Prague, we found ourselves below the medieval Astronomical Clock, located in Old Town. Every hour the clock chimes and figurines make an appearance in two of the bordering windows. It’s a huge tourist attraction but the “show” is short-lived and nothing spectacular. The clock itself, though, is very impressive. It was installed in 1410 making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world!
Nearby is the second oldest preserved synagogue in Prague, the Pinkas Synagogue, built in 1535. It now serves as a memorial to the nearly 80,000 Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Every inch of wall space is scripted with their names.
Around the corner is the Old Jewish Cemetery, the largest in all of Europe. It is cramped with disorderly layers of tombstones falling every which way but for the most part still in tact. The Jewish Community was limited on when they were allowed to purchase burial grounds so they created layers of soil to bury the deceased. Most of the tombstones were carried up with each layer, hence the forest of memorial markers.
With all the sight-seeing it was nice to finish our trip at a Fall festival taking place between Old and New Town. The main street was bustling with vendors, beer stands and food booths consisting of grilled meats, potato chips and pastries/sweets.
The ever popular sweet pastry called trdelnik can be found all over Prague. Although it originated in Hungary, it is quite the trendy treat here. It is dough rolled around a spindle, glazed with sugar, grilled over open coals then coated in sugar, cinnamon and nuts. They can also be filled with ice cream and chocolate! A very tasty dessert!
Our visit to Prague was a first for JC, a second for me and a for-sure city to return to again some day!
Dates Visited: 9/20-9/26, 2016