Prague is most definitely one of the most beautiful cities that I have ever visited in my life. It is more romantic than Paris and has some hidden nooks and corners, that are easy to walk by and amazing to discover. One of my best girl friends moved to Prague for her job and so I decided to finally pay this city a visit.
The first thing that I have noticed about this city is its incredible beauty. It retains a lot of very old buildings and churches in every part of the town. From the beautiful church in Namesti Miru to the world famous Charles Bridge crossing the Vltava river (or in German: Moldau), wherever you go, there will be a wonderful sight waiting for you.
On one of our first days there, we decided to first pay the main sights a visit: the Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, the Royal Garden with its orangery, Charles Bridge and of course the Astronomical Clock. As much as I usually would avoid touristy places, this was my first time in Prague. I figured I should have seen at least some major sights before trying to explore the more interesting and less crowded places. After all, they aren’t the major sights for nothing, right?
So we first started with a tour to the Prague Castle, of course. We walked from Namesti Miru down to the river, along the embankment and through the parks alongside the river until we reached the bottom of the hill where the castle is located. We walked through a beautiful part of the city, surrounded by old historic buildings, small streets with delicatessen or specialty shops side by side.
After a while we turned into some backstreet, which was a little bit more quiet and made our way to the side of the castle. We didn’t want to take the entrance from the Charles Bridge but rather opted for the stairs that are at the side of the hill. Our plan was to get up the stairs and get to the castle and the cathedral then walk down to the bridge and to the other side of the river to get to the old town and the astronomical clock.
If you want to take the same route, I hope you’re quite fit, especially if it is a hot day! We went there on a hot August weekend, and taking the stairs can put quite a strain on you. It’s hot and the stair is very long but luckily not very steep. As you walk up, a wonderful view over Prague will unfold before your eyes. And once you’re at the top, stop and take in the beauty around you. I was a little bit surprised to find a little provisional food stall from Starbucks there, but apparently it was very popular, judging from the queue.
The first thing you will notice when you’re at the top of the stairs is the big plaza surrounded by government buildings to the left and a big gate to the right, which leads to the castle. In front of the gates, there will be two guard, dressed in red and, even in summer, fully dressed (long jackets, heavy boots and even gloves!). I felt so sorry for them, especially when I saw how much they were already sweating just standing there in the hot sun.
We went through the gates to the castle and to the inner courtyards. The castle was built in the 9th century and the buildings’ architecture range from the 9th century to today, which is very interesting to see. There are some remains of the first castle, wall structures, hidden behind thick glass and kept in a low light, but visible for every one who takes a tour of the castle.
The center of the castle grounds is the St. Vitus cathedral, a beautiful cathedral that took almost 600 years to be completed. It’s architectural design contains gothic, Renaissance and baroque styles, which is quite interesting to see from the outside. The cathedral is beautiful and there is always a line of people waiting to get inside. I’d recommend getting in line as well, beware of pickpockets, and be prepared to see one of the most beautiful cathedrals from inside.
However, I should probably warn you about the terrible behavior that the tourists put on inside the building. I’m catholic myself and I’m quite used (and I prefer it too!) to being quiet and respectful in any religious building that I am in. In this cathedral though, the tourists were not only talking loudly or even on their phones, they were running around and shouting and behaving in a way that was quite painful for me to see inside a church. I wonder why the tourist guides or the church guides never said anything against this kind of behavior. It’s sad that it is allowed for tourists to be this disrespecting inside a church.
Let’s stop the whining and complaining here and rather talk about the church itself. Did you know that it has some of the most beautiful glass windows? They are really very impressive! Walk around, take in the beauty around you, admire the glass windows and the golden gate (a golden mosaic showing the Last Judgement). You can easily spend an entire day just walking around here, reading up on the history of the castle and its buildings and admiring the views.
Have you been to the castle before and can tell me something new about it? Please leave a comment, I’d love to know more about it!
If you want to know how to spend a perfect day in Prague, read this post!