Prague city centre

A culture tour to the Old and New Town

Prague has become a popular city to spend a weekend in and have a lot of fun. Either for your stag or hen party or going as a tourist, you will find a lively night life, try famous Czech beer and enjoy generally low prices.

Prague is situated in the central part of Bohemia on the river Vltava. It is is called “the city of a hundred spires” or “the city of a thousand spires”. The architecture is more than 600 years old and the city centre is on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

The river is crossed by a lot of famed bridges. You can enjoy taking a ride on a cruiser down the river. Apart from going to classical music concerts, opera, ballet, art galleries, or museums, you can also visit the Prague's zoo Troja.

Prague Castle District

Prague Castle  and its areas were always the centre of power of the state in the medieval era. It has also been the residence of Czech princes and kings. Now it is the seat of the Czech president. It was built in 9th century as a wooden fortress, it is a combination of different architectural periods and is claimed to be the largest ancient castle in the whole world.

Gothic St Vitus Cathedral is located in the areas of the Prague Castle. It is the largest church in Prague which has served as a tomb for some patron saints, sovereigns, noblemen and archbishops. There is the Crown Chamber where you can have a look at the Bohemian crown jewels. Coronations of Czech kings and queens took place there.

St George Basilica is a small church behind St Vitus Cathedral, founded in 10th century. It contains the relics of the Czech royalty, and the relics of the first saint and national patron St Ludmila. Today, it serves as a concert hall.

Another part of the Prague Castle complex is the Golden Lane. It is a tiny street of beautiful little houses in which the castle servants lived. They are attached to the walls of the Castle. One of the legends tells that the 16th century alchemists who lived there tried to make the elixir of youth for the king. Later, goldsmiths lived there and that is where the name comes from. Nowadays, there are a lot of craft and souvenir shops.

Royal Gardens next to the Prague Castle give one of the best views of the city. They were designed as an example of Italian gardens in Italian Renaissance style. Exotic plants like cedar and fig trees have been planted there.

Charles Bridge

A Gothic style, half a kilometre long and almost 10 metres wide bridge connects the Castle area with the Old Town. Built by Charles IV, one of the most famous Czech kings, this bridge was the only one in Prague up to 19th century. Towers stand at both ends of the Charles Bridge . On the bridge, there are 30 baroque statues of different saints.

Old Town

The Old Town is like a labyrinth of alleyways, cobbled streets and passages from which the majority leads to the Old Town Square. The Old Town Square is famous for the Astronomical Clock attraction. The clock is called Orloj  and it is incorporated into the Old Town Hall. It is a spectacle of apostle figures that move around in two windows next to each other. The figures start moving every hour.

On the Old Town Square you can also see the statue of the reformer John Huss, who was a preacher in the Bethlehem Chapel in Prague. He criticised church practices and was consequently burnt as a heretic. That is how the rebellion called Hussite Wars started. Other buildings worth admiration are the Gothic Church of Our Lady before Tyn and the Church of St.Nicholas.

Jewish Quarter  is located near the Old Town Square. This was the former Jewish quarter, now there are left only six synagogues, the Old Jewish Cemetery and a Town Hall. The Cemetery today contains 12,000 tombstones. An interesting fact about the Jews: the Jewish tradition is to put little stones on the tombstones instead of flowers as the non-Jewish people do. These little stones also stand as a commemoration of the deceased person as well as for their personal wishes.

In Pinkas Synagogue we can find 80,000 names of the Jewish victims of Bohemia and Moravia written on its walls. There is also Klausen Synagogue with an exposition of Jewish traditions and customs. They say that in the Old-New Synagogue Golem is hidden there in the sanctuary. In the Maisel Synagogue there is an exposition of the History of Jews in Bohemia and Moravia. Spanish Synagogue was constructed with the moresque and Islamic style. The sixth one is the High Synagogue.

New Town

New Town is mainly represented by the Wenceslas Square, full of modern boulevards and commercial streets. The square is named after the patron saint of Bohemia, St Wenceslas, who sits on the horse at the top of the square. Celebrations and demonstrations are usually held there. One of the events commemorated there is the day when a student, Jan Palach, set fire to himself in the Velvet Revolution. At the top, there is also the National Gallery with the national's collection of European art.

Further reading

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