The Czech capital, Prague, is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The proximity to Germany makes a city trip to the Golden City by the way to absolutely uncomplicated excursion.
A short trip to London is much more complicated as you either have to take the plane or the ferry. From Nuremberg, for example, you only need a good three hours by car to get to Prague.
From Berlin you should plan about three and a half to four hours.
It’s especially fast from Dresden:
Already after about one and a half hours driving time you are on site and can go on a discovery tour. Which Prague attractions you should not miss, you will learn in this post.
Prague’s Charles Bridge is one of the oldest stone bridges in Europe, connecting the Prague districts of Malá Strana and Staré Mesto. Around the clock, pedestrians hustle and bustle on Charles Bridge, which is bordered by two towers and leads across the Vltava River, providing an absolute must-see for every Prague visitor. Although the Charles Bridge is only open to pedestrians today, that was not always the case:
Since the end of the 19th century, the bridge for the horse tram and later also for the electric tram was opened.
Among the highlights of the bridge itself are the numerous saints, which line both edges of the bridge. These include St. Christopher, St. Joseph, John the Baptist and other saints. The most famous statue, however, is the figure of Saint John Nepomuk. Legend has it that this one was thrown into the Vltava at exactly where his statue stands today. Although numerous figures are no longer in their original state, the Charles Bridge, originally called the Prague Bridge, is a kind of open-air museum that you should definitely take a walk in during a holiday in Prague.
Interesting Fact: The foundation stone of the Charles Bridge was laid on a date calculated by astrologers as optimal: the 9th of July 1357 at exactly 5:31 o’clock. The stone bridge of Regensburg served as a model for the bridge.
The Hradschin refers to the historic district on the Prague Castle Hill. It is dominated by the Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral in its center. In order to explore the various sights in the Burgberg district, the early morning is recommended, when the castle is just opening.
Even the late afternoon is ideal – incidentally, you can enjoy the sunset from here. At noon, the Hradschin, one of the absolute highlights of Prague, unfortunately often very crowded. Usually it comes to long waiting times.
Castle of Prague
The must see on the mountain Hradcany is the Prague Castle, the political and cultural center of the city and the entire Czech nation. With its three castle courtyards, the Prague Castle is considered the largest closed castle area in the world. Although the castle was built in the 9th century, its gigantic proportions were only acquired over time.
In the middle of the 14th century, for example, the St. Vitus Cathedral was added; its towers tower over the castle complex by far. Despite numerous renovations and expansions, Prague Castle has maintained its function over the years: until today it is the seat of the President of the Czech Republic.
The various sights of the Prague Castle Complex on the Hradcany include:
- the Golden Lane
- the St. Vitus Cathedral
- the court of honor
- the Holy Cross Chapel
- various gardens
- The National Gallery in the Sternberg Palace on Hradschin Platz and
- the commemorative obelisk for the victims of the First World War
Historic Event: The scene that changed the whole of Europe occurred here in May 1618, when the then governor of the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire Ferdinand II was thrown out of a window of the castle. The “Second Prussian lintel” is considered to be the trigger of the Thirty Years’ War, which shaped Central Europe sustainably.
The St. Vitus Cathedral (also St. Vitus Cathedral, Czech Katedrála sv. Víta or Chrám sv. Víta, full name Katedrála svatého Víta, Václava a Vojtěcha) is one of the highlights of Prague Castle. It is the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Prague and the largest church building in the entire nation. The cathedral was built under Charles IV. The model was the cathedrals of French kings.
Among the highlights of St. Vitus Cathedral are the burial places of the Bohemian rulers and the coronation insignia, which are kept in the crown room of the cathedral. What you should not miss when visiting the St. Vitus Cathedral is the ascent to the 99 meter high main tower of the cathedral.
You can not have a better view of Prague.
The Golden Lane is probably the most famous street in the city. The houses of the lane on the Hradschin are so small that one has the feeling of being in a kind of parallel universe. The houses were built in the 16th century on the orders of Emperor Rudolph II. Because the emperor had a total of 24 guards, but the space was scarce, the houses had to be built very small.
After the guards eventually became less, other people moved into the houses. For example, goldsmiths and traders who gave the lane its name. However, the Golden Lane became famous among tourists due to the fact that the great writer Franz Kafka (The Trial, The Judgment, etc.) once lived and worked at number 22 (1916-1917).
Wenceslas Square is over 700 meters long and is one of the largest squares in Europe. The total space is around 45,000 m². In comparison: the Old Town Square has just 9,000 m². The elongated shape makes the place appear rather as a kind of boulevard. The numerous plants and trees (lime trees) are not entirely unaffected by this impression.
The square was named after St. Wenceslas of Bohemia, a former ruler of a small region around Prague. Incidentally, the saint is buried in St. Vitus Cathedral. The four other patron saints of the city: Ludmilla, Prokop, Agnes and Adalbert were modeled here as a statue.
At the time of the Middle Ages, but also in modern times, horse markets took place on Wenceslas Square. Also demonstrations were held here. Today, the place is a popular meeting place for visitors to the city and locals. Here you can just go for a walk, stop in one of the many restaurants, have a coffee in one of the sidewalk cafes, do some shopping or dance in the bars and clubs in the evening. Many hotels have settled here.
Especially popular is the Wenceslas Square on New Year’s Eve. Here, the tourists and locals bustle together to toast the New Year and marvel at the fireworks.
Address: Prague’s New Town, 110 00 Prague 1, Czech Republic
Did you know that…
the narrowest street in Prague is just 50 centimeters wide and has its own traffic light? The alley serves as access to the bar Vicolo Stretto.
The Vyšehrad is considered one of the most famous early medieval castle walls of Bohemia. On a small hill, south of Prague’s New Town, you can hardly miss it during a visit to the Golden City. Vyšehrad was founded and built in the 10th century as the 2nd Prague Castle.
The castle wall was built during the Romanesque and Gothic period. However, the Vyšehrad received its present form largely through the conversion to a Baroque fortress. Visitor highlights include the St. Peter and Paul Church inside the castle and the Vyšehrad cemetery; Many politicians, scientists and artists are buried here.
The Prague Zoo is the largest zoological garden in the Czech Republic and is one of the most beautiful zoos in the world. In 2015 he was honored by TripAdvisor as the fourth best zoo in the world. For animal lovers, a short trip to Prague is already “only” due to the zoo. The gigantic animal park is located in the Troja district of Prague, which belongs to the administrative district of Prague 7.
(Info: In total, Prague consists of 10 districts, 57 districts and 146 districts.)
The structure of the 58-hectare area allows you to walk up to 10 km in one go and discover a wide variety of animal species. Particularly interesting: the Africa House, the Indonesian jungle and the Valley of the Elephants. In the children’s zoo area, the park’s little visitors can pet and feed pets.
The Dancing House is one of the modern landmarks of Prague. The curious construction was realized in 1996. Located directly on the bank of the Vltava River, the Dancing House mainly serves as the office building of multinational companies. Originally the building was intended as a cultural center. The then president Václav Havel, who himself lived for years in the vicinity of the then fallow land, hoped the construction of new cultural activities. The construction got its nickname because of its special shape.
Following the ideas of the architects Vlado Milunić and Frank Gehry, the form of the Dancing House is intended as a dialogue between a totalitarian concept represented by static vertical construction (already existing since 1900) and a dynamic concept of social transformation the spiral shape, symbolize. The building is therefore a bit reminiscent of a young dancer in a pleated dress who seems to be clinging to an elderly man in a hat. No wonder, then, that the Tanzenden Haus has been given a second nickname: Ginger and Fred (after Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, who appeared as a screen couple in many US dance films).
Tip: The Dancing House houses on the seventh floor a unique restaurant called “Ginger & Fred”. Here you can enjoy a fascinating view of the Prague Castle and the Lesser Town. From the observation deck you can admire Prague with a 360 degree view. However, the menus of the Edelrestaurants are not quite cheap.
Why is Prague called the “Golden City”?
On the one hand Emperor Charles IV had the towers of the Prague Castle on the Hradschin gild. On the other hand, alchemists were supported in their search for gold by Rudolf II, the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, King of Bohemia and King of Hungary and Archduke of Austria.
Astronomical clock at the Old Town Hall
The Old Town Hall of Prague on the southeastern corner of the Old Town Square, the central market square of Prague’s Old Town, is one of the main attractions of the city. The town hall was built in Gothic style with particularly striking round and pointed arched windows. Visitors to Prague can visit the town hall and have a look inside. Tip: The view from the town hall tower to the old town of Prague is gigantic.
Not to be overlooked from the outside is the famous Astronomical Clock on the south wall of the town hall. The watch is decorated with various figures such as the Grim Reaper. Later (in the 17th century), the clock with the twelve apostles, who continue to move every hour on the hour, was supplemented by moving figures. An astronomical clock is the city hall clock because it has a sun-pointer, which shifts with the course of the sun, and a moon-hand, which indicates the phases of the moon. You can also read in the Astronomical Clock, in which zodiac the sun is currently.
During the Second World War, the clock was badly damaged. Whether the complex movement could ever be restored was questionable at the time. However, in 1948, only three years after the end of the war, the city hall clock could be put back into operation after extensive restoration work. Since then, it is again a popular photo destination for tourists and almost magical attraction and meeting place in Prague.