VIEWPOINT FROM PRAGUE CASTLE
The breathtaking views from the remaining viewpoints in the Prague Castle Quarter are well worth enjoying. because from here you will discover why it is considered one of the jewels of Central Europe.
The Czech capital has been baptised with several nicknames that try to describe it but this task is impossible. You have to visit it and walk through its streets because no matter how much you are told about it, you have to live it to believe it!
Long time ago, Prague was known as "the 5 cities" as it is composed of five historical cities. From the Castle Quarter or Hradcanywhich is the highest quarter of the city and one of the most important for being historically the political and spiritual heart of Prague, you can see a beautiful view over the other 4 historical cities. Those are Staré Mestoor Old Town, Malá Stranaor Lesser Town of Prague, Nové Mestoor the New Town and Josefovknown as the Jewish quarter.
Prague is also known as "the city of one hundred towers", named after a XIX century Austrian historian, Josef Hormayer. At that time, there were more than 100 towers of buildings, churches and belfries standing out from the city´s rooftops and it has been known as such ever since. Finally, Prague was also known as the "Golden City" (in Czech Zlatá Praha), as, depending on the daylight and how it is reflected on its historical buildings covered in gold leaf, it gives them a very characteristic bright golden warmth.
These last two nicknames have come down to us today and tourists can observe from viewpoints like this one the reason for these names and why the city captivates everyone who dares to discover it. The elevated and privileged position of the Castle Quarter provides one of the most complete panoramic views of the historical centre of Prague, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1992.
From this free access point, you will be able to enjoy a fascinating perspective of all and each of the most emblematic buildings in the Czech capital. You can go up to this district with Europamundo by coach on the panoramic tour or you can climb the steps from Malostranská metro station in the Lesser Town of Prague, in Czech Mala Strana.
Address:Castle Quarter (Hradcany)
Green line. Malostranska stop
PIVO PROSIM! BEER PLEASE!
According to statistics, it is estimated that each resident of the city of Prague drinks about 150 litres of beer a year.
Czech beer is probably the best beer in the world. Its quality is due to the famous hops from the Bohemian region which have been produced since the Middle Ages with the centre of production in Žatec (Saazin German) in West Bohemia.
Prague offers both mild (svetlé) and black (cerné) beer. As a curiosity, strength of the beer does not refer to the alcohol content but to the percentage of malt wort that is boiled with the hops to make the beer. For example, light draught beer (10°) contains 4 percent alcohol or lager (12°) 5 or 6 percent alcohol.
The most popular beers are Plzenský Prazdroj, better known by its German name, Pilsner Urquell from Plzenor Pilsen, Budvar from Ceské Budejovice, Budweis in German, and Smíchov from Prague.
Prague´s social life has been centred around breweries for centuries. It is worthy to look for authentic bars that offer good beer and better atmosphere.
Without doubt, the best introduction to Czech culture is to spend a good time, or an amazing afternoon in one of the city´s classic pivnici(breweries). It is very common to share a table with strangers and, if you want a beer, you should put a coaster in front of you. If you don´t get served quickly, don´t get nervous, stand up or signal the waiters because they have their own rhythm.
Because Prague has become one of the most touristic cities in Europe, it is difficult to find one of the legendary breweries with its long wooden tables, full of Czech atmosphere and cigarette smoke since smoking was allowed in those establishments until recently.
Some of these sites have stood firm even though they are visited by many tourists. For example, in the Church of our lady victorious and its infant Jesus of Prage. Old Town, halfway between the Astronomical Clock and Charles Bridge, very close to the tourist Karlova Street, we can find the Golden Tiger, in Czech U Zlatého Tygra, an old refuge of a Czech writer called Bohumil Hrabal and, like all Czechs, great fan of bars. This mythical tavern is located at 17 HusovaStreet, Staré Mesto, Prague 1.
Another cheerful and busy tavern is located next to one of Prague´s most famous churches, the Church of Our Lady Victorious, where the Infant Jesus of Prague is located . This is the Malonstranská Hospoda tavern at 25 KarmelitskáStreet in Malá Strana, Prague 1.
Finally, we will mention the Pivovarský Dum located at Jecná/Lípová 15 where they hold beer tastings and where they also have a very good craft beer.
HAVELSKÝ TRH MARKET
It is undoubtedly one of the most central, picturesque and tourist markets in the city of Prague. It is also one of the oldest as the Havelský Market dates back to 1232. It is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. all year round.
At this market you can find a wide variety of local products. It offers a large selection of vegetables, and fresh fruit, so you can buy a snack to have while strolling through this wonderful city. Don´t forget to try and buy the Lázenské Oplatky. These are one of the most typical sweets of the Czech Republic and were originated in the XVIII century from the hosts given at mass. Although today this country is not particularly religious, we are left with these delicious wafers filled with hazelnuts and sugar although they can be found in many other flavours such as chocolate or vanilla.
On the other hand, here you can look at some stalls that sell souvenirs such as paintings, magnets, wooden objects or the famous Prague puppets.
The most famous period of puppetry in Prague was between 1880 and 1920, when there were more than 3 000 nomadic families moving around the country telling stories every Sunday. The classical puppets are made of wood. All you need is string, wood and a good dose of imagination from the creator to shape them. They come in all styles, colours, shapes and sizes and there is no one equal to another.
Today, in this age of new technologies, puppets are the best gift for children so they can let their imagination run wild giving movement and life to these characteristic souvenirs from the Czech capital.
Havelská street 13
110 00 Praga 1- Staré Mesto
Open all year from 07:00 am to 07:00 pm – Sunday from 08.00 am to 06:30 pm
Metro: green or yellow line
THE DANCING HOUSE
One of the most lively and controversial architectural elements in the city can be found in the building of the Dancing House.
This building was incorporated into the urban landscape of Prague by the Vltava River, in front of the Jiráskuv Bridge, surrounded by classical constructions, which is why this project was criticised even before its inauguration. At the time it was supported by the Mayor of the city and today it is one of the most eye-catching of all the buildings by the Vltava River in the New Town area.
The Dancing House (in Czech Tancící dum) is the work of two architects: the Czech Vlado Milunic and the Canadian architect Frank Gehry, creator of such innovative and well-known works as the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles (United States) or the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (Spain).
Both architects had total freedom to erect this building and created what is today one of the most modern and emblematic constructions in the city. This work consists of two parts, one is built in glass simulating the dress of a female figure, and the other one makes a corner and has the windows placed in a more disorderly way. It is crowned by a terrace with a metallic form which simulates the hair of one of the two dancers. The structure is also known as the “Ginger and Fred building” because it reminds of Fred Ástaire and Ginger Rogers dancing, even if, at the beginning, the architects did not like the name very much because it was too reminiscent of Hollywood. However anyone who walks along the banks of the Vltava River is able to imagine these famous characters interlacing and dancing among the baroque and classical buildings that we find around.
On the seventh floor of the building you will find the restaurant Ginger and Fred and a panoramic viewpoint which is the reason why this monument is also very popular.
If you decide to take a walk to get here, don´t miss one of the oldest and most famous breweries in the city, which is only a ten minute walk away. The brewery is called U Flekuand is located at Kremencova11. It is a huge restaurant and brewery where a delicious black beer called Flekis served, brewed in a traditional way.
Jiráskovo námestí 1981/6, 120 00, Praga.
Metro: line B (Karlovo námestí stop).
HEAD OF KAFKA
In this case we will show you one of the most modern corners in Prague. For art lovers, we would like you to meet one of the most controversial Czech sculptors of our time, David Cerný.
The work we would like to present to you is the Head of Franz Kafka. It is a living statue, a statue that never stops moving and makes tourists stop to look at it and enjoy it.
Its constant rotation is due to the fact that the 42 stainless metal blocks rotate constantly and independently thanks to a motor that is powered by one kilometre of internal wiring. It is 11 meters high and weighs 39 tons.
David Cerný has represented the head of one of the most famous and influential Czech writers of the XX century worldwide. Franz Kafka was of Jewish origin and was born in Prague in 1883 at the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Kafka wrote his works associated with existentialism and expressionism in the German language, and among his most famous works is The Metamorphosis published in 1915.
This modern sculpture is located next to Quadrio, a complex with offices, homes and a shopping centre located on the National Avenue, next to the metro station of the yellow line Národní trída.
And for those who want to know more about this famous and controversial sculptor, we invite you to visit the Lucerna Passage. On this occasion Cerný represents St. Wenceslas riding on the belly of an apparently dead horse making a parody of the original statue that is presented in the famous central and commercial Wenceslas square in front of the National Museum (Muzeummetro station).
Address:Spálená 22. Praga 1- Nové Mesto
Metro yellow lineNarodni Trida stop
GET TO KNOW PETRÍN HILL
Petrín Hill is located next to one of Prague´s historic districts but very few people dare to leave the centre for a short walk. However, it is highly recommended for breathing fresh air and having another view of the city. Previously, we have mentioned that one of the most accessible viewpoints of the historical centre is in the Castle Quarter. In this section we invite you to go a little further to have a magnificent view of the whole city together with the Castle Quarter itself, St. Vitus and St. Wenceslas Cathedral.
Getting to know PetrínHill requires a little effort as you have to walk along a winding path for about half an hour or 45 minutes, depending on your physical condition. For those who won´t dare it, there is a funicular railway that operates almost all year round.
And what will we find on this hill apart from a very complete panorama of Prague´s historical cities?
Petrín Hill is known for a construction that reminds us of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. For the Czechs it is their metal tower, although this is much smaller in size, it is located on a high point so it could be the same height as the tower in Paris. The PetrínLookout Tower is 63 metres high and was built for the 1891 Exhibition, although it was installed at this location in 1932. You can climb the 299 steps to get to the top of the tower or you can take the lift they have installed inside. To go up, you have to pay an entrance fee.
On the hill we will also find the Church of Saint Lawrence and we can stroll around the surroundings. Finally, we recommend that you visit the Memmorial to the Victims of Communism who were imprisoned, executed or whose lives were affected by that totalitarian regime. This sculptural group was very controversial due to different political opinions. The intention is to remember the people who were victims of the communist era in the Czech Republic from 1948 to 1989. It was inaugurated in 2002 and represents people descending a staircase that is gradually disappearing from the first to the last. You will not want to miss it. This group of sculptures is located very close to Ujezd where the funicular is taken.
You can take the Petrin funicular in the passage of ULanové Dráhy, which can be reached from UjezdStreet, which you will surely know because it is the street where we find the Church where is the Infant Jesus of Prague in Malá Stranadistrict. You can leave from Ujezdand have a first stop in Nebozizekwhere there is a restaurant and a viewpoint. The second stop is Petrín, where the Tower, the observatory and the Church of St. Lawrence (Kostel sv. Vavrince na Petríne) are located.
VYŠEHRAD NEIGHBOURHOOD AND CEMETERY
The Vyšehrad neighbourhood is one of the less touristy areas. Vyšehrad literally means "upper castle" and is one of the cities where Prague has its origin as its fortress was built in the X century and was the seat of the Premyslid dynasty. Legend has it that the rule of wise women was replaced by the rule of men when Princess Libuše married a Premyslid peasant and that her successors ruled the Czechs until 1306, when the last successor Wenceslas III lost his life in the Polish campaign.
The legend of Vyšehrad reappeared in the XIX century when the Czech national consciousness was reborn and the area once again became part of Czech history as many sculptors, writers, musicians and composers dedicated part of their works to this neighbourhood and to the legends surrounding Princess Libuše and the Premyslids.
One of the peculiarities of this neighbourhood overlooking the Vltava River is the Rotunda of St. Martin (Rotunda Sv Martina), one of the oldest Christian churches in the country. It is a small Romanesque church that dates back to the XI century and was restored in the last third of the XIX century.
However, the most important monumental complex is the Vyšehrad cemetery (Vyšehradsky Hrbitov) created in 1870 to be the resting place of all the Czech celebrities who awakened Czech national feeling in this country. The Czech Republic has always been surrounded by Germanic countries with whom they have shared history but, even so, the Czechs have managed to maintain their language and particular character.
The most visited tombs here are those of Czech composers Antonín Dvorák and Bedrich Smetana, both are considered the fathers of Czech music and the leading representatives of Czech nationalism. Here you can also find the tomb of the Czech writer Jan Neruda, author of the boo. "Prague Tales" or Karel Hynek Macha. The latter is also well known to Czechs because, in November 1989, there was a protest at Macha´s grave that later led to the Velvet Revolution, a peaceful movement that resulted in the fall of the Czechoslovak Communist Party. Finally, another of the great Czech artists, Alphonse Mucha, a Czech painter known for being one of the greatest exponents of Art Nouveau and for his posters of the French actress Sarah Bernhardt.
Vyšehrad is easily accessible from the metro station with the same name. Do you dare to discover one of the least known historical places in Prague? We invite you to do so, you will certainly be fascinated by this visit!
A WALK ALONG CELETNÁ STREET IN THE OLD TOWN
Very close to the famous Old Town Square and the Prague Astronomical Clock which is packed with tourists, there is a street where all the architectural styles of the city come together and which is well worth a stroll for a quick tour. CeletnáStreet is one of the oldest streets in the city and it goes out radially from the Old Town Square just at the corner where the Church of Our Lady before Týn is located.
Along this street, looking at the buildings, you will find real architectural jewels of the Baroque period built on the foundations of Romanesque and Renaissance houses. This street is closely related to Kafka as he lived for a time in the house located at number two and, on the other hand, he worked as a lawyer in the Pachta Palace located at number 36 of this same street.
Here, we can also find one of the best examples of cubist architecture in the city and in Europe, the House of the Black Virgin or the Black Madonna as it is also known, in Czech, Dum u Cerné Matky Bozy. It was the work of Josef Gocár, one of the most important Czech architects of the XX century. Cubism was a style popularised by Pablo Picasso and the Czech Republic is one of the few places where we can admire this architectural style in its fullness. In particular, this house, which sometimes goes unnoticed by the hordes of tourists that pass through this street, is one of the most important jewels of this unique style in the world.
The House of the Black Madonna is the best example of how a modern building can be constructed in harmony with the style of the surrounding baroque buildings. This was the first Cubist building and was built in 1912. It owes its name to the virgin you can see in one of the corners, which was moved here from an old baroque building. It is currently dedicated to art and houses an exhibition of Cubist painting, sculpture and furniture. On the first floor you can enjoy a very particular coffee shop, the Grand Café Orient, which tries to imitate the original style of a cafeteria that existed in the origins of this building. We encourage you to try a delicious Czech dessert in the Cubist style of this place, the venecekor "little crown" that, here, takes on a neat square shape to do honour to this cafe and this building which will undoubtedly surprise you.
Continue along Celetnástreet to the famous Powder Tower, of Gothic style, and arrive at Ná Príkope to finish this walk with the elegant Municipal House, the most beautiful example of Art Nouveau in the city. Go inside and take a break to enjoy a coffee or a delicious dessert in its beautiful and historical cafeteria
Nowadays this area is known as "Little Venice" because of its location by the Vltava River, its gardens and its water mills.
It is undoubtedly one of the most peaceful places to take a break next to the busy and touristy Charles Bridge (Karluv most). Kampa Island is separated from the Malá Stranaor Lesser Town quarter by a canal leading from the Vltava River called Certovka, literally translated as “the Devil´s Canal”.
In the 1970s this area became the ideal hiding place and retreat for Czech hippies who created famous murals such as the Wall of John Lennon, which is popular for its colourful drawings and graffiti that recall us the four of Liverpool.
Another must see in the area is the Grand Prior´s Mill which commemorates the old mills that existed on the island in the past.
On the Island of Kampa you will find the Museum Kampa, a modern art gallery. Next to its façade you will see three bronze sculptures representing apparently deformed babies. These sculptures were done by the Czech artist and sculptor David Cerný, who created another ten of these figures that can be found climbing the Žižkov Television Tower. Cerný has been widely questioned for his works and he is one of the best known sculptors in the country.
Also nearby is the Statue of Harmony dedicated to Sri Chinmoy a famous Indian preacher, philosopher and writer.
Metro: green line, Malostranska stop.
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