The Golden City of Prague
Prague is the capital of Czech Republic, or Czechia, and one of the most sought after travel destinations in all of Europe. Although Americans have limited availability to travel Europe right now due to COVID, take a journey with us through the fantastic sights you can see. There are a ton of intriguing historical sites, as well as world-class beers, gorgeous castles, and scrumptious foods to try! Come czech it out!
Begin your journey by arriving on time to one of the city’s most famous attractions: The Prague Astronomical Clock. This is considered the best preserved medieval mechanical clock in the world! It was first created in the 15th century to depict the phases of the moon and the equinoxes. It features every horoscope symbol, so be on the lookout for yours! There are also four figures beside the clock that represent the anxieties of people at the time: death, vanity, greed, and the Pagan invasion. There’s a wonderful show when the clock hits the hour, so make sure to catch it!
Take in the rest of Old Town Square, where the clock is located. It’s been the city’s main public square since the 10th century, and you can catch jazz bands, concerts, markets, and more. Old Town Hall is located here, which boasts a ton of historical attractions to check out. You can gaze at beautiful 1930s mosaics in the council chamber and assembly room, and explore the Gothic chapel, where you can climb to the top of its tower. Another must-see in Old Town Square is the Church of Our Lady Before Týn. This church has two huge Gothic spires that make the whole building look like something out of an old fantasy book. When you head inside, you’ll be able to marvel at the amazing baroque style of the space.
Next on your itinerary is the largest castle complex in the world, Prague Castle. The sprawling castle has been around for over a thousand years, and serves as the office of the Czech president. This UNESCO World Heritage Site features lots to see, including the Basilica of St. George and Golden Lane, a street that features mini houses that used to house castle guards in the late 15th century. Adjacent to the castle is the St. Vitus Cathedral, which was built around A.D. 925. The cathedral is massive and impressive in style, and when you enter, you can catch some pretty interesting sites like the tomb of St. John of Nepomuk, who was famous for his silverwork. There’s also a magnificent stained-glass window that was completed by the well-known Czech painter, Alphonse Mucha.
After wandering through the city for a couple of hours, switch up the pace of your trip by taking in some greenery. Petrín Hill is a gorgeous park that features lovely views, pony and horseback rides, a rose garden, the Nebozízek Garden, a mirror maze, and Seminary Garden, which is home to 2,100 fruit trees. It even has an observation tower which resembles the Eiffel Tower, and overlooks the whole city.
Take in additional peaceful views at Letná Park. This serene park allows you to look out over Old Town and Vltava River as you sip on brews at their beer garden. Prague is known for their beer, or pivo in Czech, and you definitely don’t want to miss the opportunity to sip on one with a spectacular view! Afterwards, don’t hesitate to explore the rest of the park. It features the Hanavský Pavilion, where you can dine at the luxury restaurant that resides there, and the Letná Carousel, the oldest floored carousel in all of Europe! A third attraction in the park, the Prague Metronome, was designed to replace the biggest statue of Stalin in the world, which previously stood here.
Sit back, relax, and get ready to experience a heck of a show. In Prague, puppet shows are a popular form of entertainment. Puppets have been popular in Czechia since the 12th century, when they were used as entertainment during royal meals and ceremonies. This is still the case today as many puppet theaters are available all over the country. Head to the National Marionette Theater to view one of these shows. If you can, make sure to catch the performance of Don Giovanni, directed by Karel Brožek. It’s one of their most watched shows. mozart.cz
Now it’s finally time to stop by one of Prague’s most beloved attractions, the Charles Bridge. The best time to visit is when the sun is going down, so you can admire the sunset. One of the things that makes this bridge so special is the collection of statues that line it. Thirty saint statues were built between 1683 and 1928 to honor many different saints. The actual construction of the bridge dates back even further, all the way to 1357! Charles IV commissioned architect Peter Parler to build the bridge. Parler is actually the same architect responsible for the St. Vitus Cathedral. The first ever statue created for the bridge is also the most famous: St John of Nepomuk. If you rub the bronze plaque on this statue, legend says that you will one day return to Prague!
Once you cross the bridge, don’t forget to stop by the John Lennon Wall. Back when Czechia was the Communist Czechoslovakia, Western images and symbols were banned. When John Lennon was killed in 1980, an activist painted his portrait on this wall as an act of rebellion against the Communist power in the country. The wall soon became a symbol of defiance as other protestors came to write their own statements, lyrics, and drawings. Prague’s secret police would continuously paint over everything and erase the symbols, but the next day, more graffiti would inevitably spring up. Communist Czechoslovakia fell a long time ago, but the wall continues to be painted on every year, with artists and passersby adding their own creations.
One last stop before you take off into the night! Prague has a history of being fascinated with alchemists. During Renaissance Europe, they were very well-respected as people hoped that they would be able to turn metals into gold, cure diseases, and grant eternal youth. Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II had a lot to do with the expansion of alchemy. He employed many alchemists to try to find the “Philosopher’s Stone,” which was a chemical substance that was supposed to allow all of the alchemists’ undertakings to become a reality. Due to this history of alchemy, Speculum Alchemiae is one of the city’s coolest and most intriguing attractions. This is the hidden lair of an alchemist that was only discovered after a flood in the area in 2002 uncovered it. The underground “office space” of the alchemist still displays the equipment and the crucible that they used to supposedly turn lead into gold. A mummified crocodile hangs from the ceiling; legend says that the alchemist used to tell his visitors it was a dragon, to make the place seem more magical.
If you’re ready to dine in style while exploring the best of Prague’s tastes and smells, then head to Alcron. This restaurant boasts an old-timey feel, and it should, it first opened in 1932! It seats only 24 guests to maintain intimacy, so make sure to place your reservation well ahead. The degustation menu under Chef Roman Paulus has definitely deserved its Michelin stars, and ranges from four to seven courses, with a focus on seafood. Come with an empty stomach and an open mind! alcron.cz
Now with your belly full, it’s time to get your drink on! Prague’s nightlife is something you do not want to miss out on. For your first stop of the night, explore a museum that’s also a bar. Absintherie aims to teach you all about absinthe, the legendary strange green alcoholic drink made from wormwood. Here you can separate the myth from the real and get to choose from over 100 different types of absinthe. absintherie.cz
Your second nightlife spot, Cross Club, is one of the most renowned in all of Czechia. It has an industrial design, with three floors of gadgets, gears, pipes and more—really giving it an underground look. Live acts sometimes perform here, but on regular nights you can count on dubstep and EDM to get your blood pumping. crossclub.cz
Chapeau Rouge will be your next party destination. With three stories, four bars, and three stages, there’s a lot to choose from here. The music varies and gives you lots of options, with salsa, pop, EDM, and more. Go deeper into the club and you’ll discover that there’s also indie acts, theatre tunes, and fun multimedia projections. You’ll spend the majority of your night just soaking it all in!
Retire for the night at the Alchymist Prague Castle Suites. With its location close to the Prague Castle, you are bound to feel like royalty yourself! The hotel is a 15th century mansion that was restored to offer top quality accommodations. There’s eight luxury suites, a music room, a library, a fireplace room, a spa, and private butler service. For ultimate relaxation, take advantage of their sauna, Jacuzzi, and massage room. Stay in the Decastello Suite, which comes with a rooftop terrace, a marble bathroom with underfloor heating, and a minibar. The fabulous views from your terrace will help you drift off to sleep. alchymistpraguecastle.com
It’s no wonder that Prague has the nickname The Golden City. While you head back home on the plane, dream about just how golden all of your adventures here were!
By Aaliyah Pasols