Never in a million years did I consider Prague to be a place that I would visit and furthermore fall in love with.
Studying in London made Europe travels during the reading week very convenient. I connected with Take a Trip with Tina and booked an adventure for Berlin and Prague. I literally had zero expectations, you would think I would at least google the place right? Nope! I did not such thing just packed my suitcase and was pumped for my adventure.
The biggest mistake I made, however, was not booking a flight my Berlin and Prague adventure started at Victoria Station on a Coach bus and this was our main form transport as it a group of students from across London that was also on this adventure. I was glad for the company and excitement but that bus ride was insanely torturous. I am positive I lost feeling in my legs and bum at least five times.
We stopped at Berlin first for two days and then journeyed on to Prague. No exaggeration, Prague is an absolutely stunning city filled with juicy legends, gorgeous sites, exquisite restaurants, rich culture, religious beliefs and intense political history.
Prague or Praha is the capital city of the Czech Republic. This city has witnessed Nazi control, oppressive communism, capitalist democracy, the Velvet Revolution and independence. Legend has it that Libuse, the daughter of mythical Czech ruler Krok stood on a rocky cliff above the Vltava River and said “I see a great city whose glory will touch the stars.” and she ordered a castle to be built on the spot which is now called Vyšehrad and a great city called Praha. After the death of her father, she became queen and married a ploughman named Přemysl. Together, they went on to found the Přemyslid dynasty which ruled the Czech lands until 1306.
A juicy legend is always more interesting than the factual recollection, however, history says that the region was settled as early as the Paleolithic age and around the 5th century the Celts established settlements in the area naming the place Bohemia which means home of boii. After World War 1 and the establishment of an independent Czechoslovak state, Bohemia, became a part of Czechoslovakia which later on split into two independent countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993 and Prague became the capital of the Czech Republic.
It was time to explore the city and I was super excited as the architecture was very intriguing. Here are my top six sites to see when you visit Prague.
1.The Old Town Square
In the heart of Prague is the Old Town Square. This area is filled with endless vibes. This most historic square in the city is home to numerous tourist, mouth-watering restaurants, talented entertainers doing all sorts of tricks and feats, famous statues and majestic historic buildings waiting to take your breath away.
The Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí) started life as the central marketplace for Prague and 0ver the centuries buildings of Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic styles were erected around the market, each bringing with them stories of wealthy merchants and political intrigue.
2. The Jan Hus Statue
At the centre of the Old Town Square is the Jan Hus statue which was built in 1915 to mark the 500th anniversary of Jan Hus death. He was burnt to death for preaching against the beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church. His followers the Hussites continued to be a powerhouse in Bohemia after his death and the overwhelming support for his beliefs during the 14th and 15th centuries led to the Hussite Wars.
3.The Astronomical Clock
This is the most mesmerising clock you would ever see! The Astronomical Clock is on one side of the Old Town Hall Tower and dates back to the 15th Century. On the hour, every hour there is a procession of the twelve apostles, a small trap door opens and Christ marches out ahead of his disciples.
4.Tyn Church And St Nicholas Church
The Church of Our Lady currently known as the Tyn Church dominates one side of the Old Town Square housing the oldest organ in Prague and it is absolutely breathtaking. The twin towers of this powerful looking Gothic church can be seen from all over Prague. This current gothic structure was founded in 1385 as the main Old Town church. In the early 15th century, Tyn Church came under the control of the Hussites however, in the end, Catholic Jesuits took control, recasting the bell, and replacing the Hussites symbolic chalice with a large figure of Mary nailed between the towers. In 1679, a fire destroyed the interior of the church and it was rebuilt in Baroque style. It is said that the Tyn Church towers inspired Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.
St. Nicholas is a Baroque church completed in 1735, the interior was inspired by the chapel of St. Louis-des-Invalides in Paris. In 1781 emperor Josef 2nd removed the decoration from the interior of the church & ordered the closure of all monasteries without a social function. During the 2nd World War Czech army units stationed at St. Nicholas were responsible for restoring the church, working alongside professional artists. After the war, St. Nicholas was handed over to the Czech Hussite movement, with whom it remains.
5.The Charles Bridge
Crossing the Charles Bridge is a must! King Charles IV commissioned the Charles Bridge (Karlův most) in the 14th century and it’s a stone bridge linking the old town to the Prague Castle with the Vltava River flowing beneath.
The bridge is filled with musicians, street artists, local artisans you name it! But the size and life of the bridge cannot compare to the exorbitant religious statues that great you every 5 steps. For many years the only decoration on the bridge was a simple crucifix. Later, on the Roman Catholics wanted ornaments everywhere which resulted in 30 statues being erected between 1600 and 1800. Currently, there are 75 statues with the oldest being John of Nepomuk.
To get to the castle you have to cross the bridge and walk up what felt like a thousand steps but trust me it’s completely worth it. The view from the top is worth every step as the castle overlooks the entire city.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world.
The Prague Castle was founded by Prince Bořivoj of the Premyslid dynasty around 880. The Church of the Virgin Mary was the first stone building in the castle area however, only remnants can be seen today. During the 10th century, the Prague Castle was home to Czech princes and kings, and the seat of the Prague bishop. However, during the reign of Charles IV (1346-1378) it became the seat of the Holy Roman Emperor. After 1989, many areas of the Castle were made accessible to the public for the first time in history, including the Royal Garden, Ballgame Hall, the south gardens, or the Imperial Stables. Today, the Prague Castle is the seat of the Czech president and a number of priceless art relics, historical documents, as well as the Czech Crown Jewels are stored there.
I would recommend you put Prague on your bucket list. This is not a place to sleep on at all!