Prague is undoubtedly one of Europe’s top travel destinations. The Czech capital is renowned for its rich history, magnificent architecture and extravagant servings of art, culture and cuisine. With its golden spires, cobbled streets, and idyllic river, Prague has an almost magical aura. This elegant city has much to offer any traveler whether an adventurer, a romantic or a laid-back tourist simply looking to have a great time.
If you intend to travel to Prague, you are basically spoilt for choice. This magnificent city just has so much to offer. However, in order to savor the best of the city’s extravagant offerings, there some places which cannot afford to miss on your itinerary. Here are a few of the must-see spots in Prague, Czech Republic.
1) Charles Bridge
Charles Bridge is one of the most celebrated baroque bridges in Europe. Commissioned by King Charles IV in 1357, the bridge is the epitome of masonry, artistry and architecture. It is a 520m jewel linking the two sides of Prague.
It spans 16 arches, and is decorated with magnificent Baroque statuettes. It towers over the idyllic Vlatva River, and offers sweeping views of Prague. During day time, the bridge is filled with tourists, and an assortment of vendors, street performers and artists.
However, at night is when the river truly dazzles. Standing on the bridge, watching the lights of Prague twinkling in the Vlatva River creates a feeling of serenity, awe and elation. Standing on the bridge at dawn, watching the sunrise is considered one of the most romantic views in Europe. Basically, the Charles bridge dazzles, excites and elates – in a way, it is a microcosm of Prague itself.
2) The Old Town Square
Walking into Prague’s Old Town Square is like taking a journey into history. This magnificent square first started out as Prague’s central market back in the 12th century. Over the centuries, several buildings were erected around it. This is what makes the Old Town Square so special.
It is surrounded by elegant buildings reflecting various architectural styles including Gothic, Romanesque and Baroque styles. Among these buildings are the St. Nicholas Church, Tyn Church and the Old Town Hall Tower and Astronomical Clock.
The Astronomical Clock is actually one of the star attractions in the town square. Crafted in 1410 by a clockmaker and mathematics professor, this amazing clock shows Babylonian time, German time, old Bohemian time and sidereal time. It also highlights the sunrise, sunset, as well as the position of the moon in the zodiac. At over 600 years, it is the third-oldest clock in the world, and is the perfect stopover during a tour of the Old Town Square.
At the center of the square is a statue of Jan Hus – erected to mark the 500th anniversary of his death in 1915. To enjoy the Old Town Square – you can tour the various buildings, and discover their amazing stories (romance, intrigue, wealth, betrayal etc). You can also climb up the Town Hall Tower and enjoy a panoramic view of the square. Alternatively, you can drop into one of the cafes surrounding the Square and relax over a beer or coffee.
3) Wenceslas Square
Wenceslas Square is one of Prague’s most iconic locations. Located in the heart of the New Town, this 750m by 60m square is the center of history, culture and entertainment. First laid out by Charles IV in 1348 (initially designated as a horse market), Wenceslas Square is now a blooming boulevard, and marks the beginning of Prague’s commercial and entertainment district.
It is surrounded by hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and apartments. It is a favorite starting point for tourists, because it is a walking distance from Prague’s main attractions; and all the city’s transportation options pass through the square.
The square itself is graced by the National Museum – a monumental building which chronicles the Prague’s illustrious heritage. In front of the museum is the statue of St. Wenceslas – the King after whom the square is named, and a host of other monuments. Also close by is the Prague State Opera, and a collection of cozy bars and restaurants, offering a selection of relaxing drinks and sumptous delicacies.
4) The Petrin Watchtower
The Petrin Watchtower is one of the best spots from which to enjoy Prague’s legendary scenery. It is a 63.5 meter-high observation tower which was inspired by the iconic Eiffel tower. In a way, it looks like Paris’ legendary tower featuring the characteristic steel framework. It was built in 1891, and has since been a source of delight for locals and visitors alike.
Strategically situated in the Petrin hill, the watchtower offers a rare opportunity to enjoy a panoramic view of Prague. Taking the 299 steps to the top of the tower is a thrilling challenge in itself. However, standing there, watching the magnificence of Prague all spread out below is a sight which makes climbing the tower worth the while.
5) Prague Castle
Prague Castle is one of the largest castles in the world. Sprawling over a space of 18 acres, it is undoubtedly Prague’s premium tourist attraction. With a rich history stretching back to 880AD, this amazing structure was once the seat of the Bohemian Kingdom. Over 13 centuries of construction has transformed it into a complex maze of courtyards, cathedrals, palaces and monuments.
Prague castle houses numerous museums, art galleries, medieval halls, ancient fortifications and an enviable collection of artifacts. Some of its key attractions include the St. Vitus Cathedral, the Golden Lane, the Royal Palace, the Spanish Hall, St. Gorge’s Basilica and Convent, the Courtyards and the Prague Castle Gardens. This magnificent castle entrances, inspires, amazes and dazzles. There are few places in the world which offer the sheer variety, extravagance and splurge which the Prague Castle offers.
In a nutshell, those are few of the must-see spots in Prague, Czech Republic. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The city has also has a rich culinary tradition, a plush luxury scene and a boisterous nightlife. Basically, it has everything to keep you entertained, relaxed and pampered.
The best thing about Prague is that it is one of the most affordable cities in Europe. According to the 2013 European Backpacker’s Index, a day’s expenses in Prague can cost as little as $41 per person. Basically, you can have a great time without having to break the bank. This is what makes Prague so special. It is no wonder that it is fondly referred to as “The Golden City.”