Since the collapse of the Iron Curtain in 1989 and the opening up of Central and Eastern Europe, Prague has risen as one of the most attractive travel destinations in Europe. With an incredibly beautiful medieval core and a vibrant city life, it is not difficult to understand why millions of visitors are lured to the Czech capital each year.
More than thirty years ago, Prague (or Praha in Czech) was known as just a city of the Eastern bloc, a mere satellite of the Soviet Union. Despite being rich in architectural and cultural heritage, the city was completely overshadowed by the flashier metropoles to the West. But the former capital of the kingdom of Bohemia couldn’t keep its marvel a secret for too long as the veil covered its beauty fell in 1989.
Today, the Czech capital attracts more visitors than ever. Especially with its current appearance: modern offices, glitzy shops, and trendy cafés – all packed in among the beautiful Baroque buildings and stone-cobbled lanes of the Old Town. Even the most experienced travelers would have trouble resisting this city’s charms.
1. Prague Castle
Looming above the Vltava’s left bank, Prague Castle has been an unmistakable symbol of the Czech state for more than a thousand years. Founded in the first quarter of the 9th century, it was the seat of Bohemian princes, kings, and emperors, and after the republic was established in 1918, it has also become the residency of the presidents.
Spreading over 45 hectares, the castle is one of the largest complexes in the world. It comprises a palace, a church, several gardens, as well as official and fortification buildings. They represent precious monuments of all the architectural styles, ranging from Baroque, Renaissance to Gothic. Within its walls lies a handful of museums and galleries which house some of the country’s greatest artistic and cultural treasures.
2. Charles Bridge
Strolling across Charles Bridge is definitively everybody’s favorite activity while being in Prague. This stone bridge connects the Old Town to the castle and was built at the beginning of the 15th century to replace the Judith Bridge that had been badly damaged by floods in the previous centuries.
Over time, it gradually became the icon of the city and a national monument. Not surprisingly, people from around the world have come in droves, and the bridge is extremely popular among couples. Charles Bridges has sometimes referred to as the Bridge of Love thanks to many padlocks of love on the bridge.
3. Old Town
Packed with stored churches, spired towers, and winding narrow alleys, Staré Město (Old Town) easily creates a fairytale urban scene. It is among the oldest and by far, the most magnificent district in the Czech Capital, and the main reason why Prague is often referred to as “The City of Hundred Spires”.
A fairytale urban scene.
The core of the historical center is the Old Town Square, which originated as a marketplace in the 10th century and has been the site for many political and cultural events that have shaped the history of Prague. Surrounded the Old Town Square are several meticulously preserved buildings, such as the Gothic-inspired Church of Our Lady before Tyn, the House at the Minute in Renaissance style, as well as the city’s most noteworthy monument – the Old Town City Hall.
Dating back to 1338, the building draws the greatest number of visitors, especially at the start of every hour when the twelve apostles rotate inside its famous astronomical clock. The city government is long gone from the Old Town City Hall, but it is still the most popular place in Prague to get married.
4. New Town
Encompass the Old Town on all sides is Nové Město – the New Town. Its creation dates back to the 14th century when King Charles IV ordered to expand the city to adjust to the increasing population of Prague. A spacious new area between Vyšehrad and Old Town was, therefore, constructed. Since then, the new district has served as the city’s main commercial center and has become home to countless businesses, banks, and offices, as well as the eye-catching Dancing House.
Being said that, the New Town is also rich in culture, offering many theatres, cinemas, and museums, as well as the State Opera House. It also houses the Vyšehrad Fortress – a citadel that has played a role in Czech history for more than 1000 years. Perched on a cliff high above the Vltava, the structure can easily be recognized by the twin Gothic spires of the Church of St.Peter and St. Paul – Prague’s oldest surviving building.
Tips for visiting Prague
- Prague is plagued by pick-pocketers. Despite increasing police’s control, petty crimes occur quite often and this endemic seemingly won’t end anytime soon. So be vigilant all the time, especially at crowded tourist attractions (Wenceslas Square and Old Town City Hall), in subways (both Metro A and B) and on trams (Tram 22 which runs to the castle).
- Similar to Cracow’s Royal Castle, separate tickets are required to visit different parts of the castle. Some sections do not charge an admission fee after 18:00, for example, the Golden Lane.
- In order to go to Vyšehrad Fortress, take Tram 17 from the Old Town to Výtoň. Then follow the walking path to the top of the hill. The Dancing House also lies on this route.
39 thoughts on “Prague: The Charms of Czech Capital”
Ahhh I miss Prague! I used to go quite often, living only 4 hours away. It’s so prettyyy <3
Not far from Wroclaw right? 🙂
Yep, only 4 hours!
Ah Prague – one of my all-time favorite cities and my Polish friends never understand why – because I think they have similar architecture and culture. Prague is such a gorgeous city. Great photos as always!
Thank you, Pooja! 🙂
Like Budapest, Prague is one of Central Europe’s most endearing cities which I have been dreaming of visiting. Based on this post and what others said about Prague, the Czech capital looks like one of those places that are popular with tourists for obvious reasons — and going there instead of avoiding it altogether would always be rewarding. However, I’m quite curious about which one you like better, Prague or Budapest (not that you have to compare the two or choose between them)?
Personally, I like Budapest more. Both cities look stunning, but I like the food scene in Budapest more than the one in Prague. Czech specialties are much similar to those of Germany so they are not really appealing to me. Additionally, my dad’s wallet was stolen in Prague. So I guess we have a personal reason to dislike Prague 🙂
Oh no! 🙁 I can see why you have a mixed feeling toward Prague.
Great information. Budapest is on the top of my travel list.
Great pics and useful info; it makes me really want to visit Eastern Europe soon.
Thank you! 🙂
It’s one of my wish list… interesting photos and thanks for the tips!
My pleasure! 🙂
Very interesting and informative with awesome photographs!
Thanks for your support! 🙂
Amazing photos as always! reminded me of our trip.. totally agree about the pick pocketers. I had a near save incident and anyways didn’t have much in my purse except my phone.
I read about your incident and I think they really pick soft target like elder people. It happened to my dad as well 🙁
I think! It sucks because Prague is such a pretty place
I agree. I guess we won’t come back there because we feel unsafe 🙁 Reporting to the police doesn’t help as well.
So much has changed since we visited. Such as the dancing house. We did not stroll across the Charles bridge and rub the statue, so that is the reason we will go back!
Your photos are stunning (as usual) and they transport me back to the magical time we had in Prague last December. It does not get more fairy-tale than Prague 🙂
For sure! 🙂
Very charming place indeed! Although visiting it once was personally enough for me… You seem to explore a lot of places when you travel, how long does it take you to plan for a trip like this??
Normally 6 months in advance 🙂 A lot of research. For big cities I usually plan at least 3 days. Even so, I still made some mistakes. Things do not always run as plan 🙂
I see… making mistakes is all part of the experience. Have fun planning your next one! 😉
Haha thank you! 🙂
I was enchanted by the beauty of Prague while wondering through it’s cobblestone streets. It is so charming.
I ‘m gonna travel to Prague in two weeks from now. I just come across your article and I could see thanks to it that is a good destination. I really like the photos. What kind of camera did you use?
I am glad that you like the post 🙂 I am using a Fujifilm X30, just a compact camera but quite good.
I recently started to post some articles here. In the future I will be writing about my trips too. For now I giving just general advice. It will be nice if you can check my blog and tell me what you think about it.
Have a nice day !! 🙂
For sure, I will take a look! 😉
one of my fav cities. 🙂
Definitively one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe 😉
Fantastic architecture..and the pictures are so beautiful.I would love to visit Prague someday.
Thanks for your compliment, Pooja 🙂
What an extraordinarily beautiful city! I especially love the bridge. What month did you travel there? I’ve read that Prague, like Venice and other popular European cities, can get crazy busy. Sad about the pickpocketing.
I was there in June. It got dark pretty late, so I had more time to explore the city. But it’s pretty crowded, especially during the day. If you want to capture the Charles Bridge, be there at sunrise (or earlier).
Coming from Saigon, I thought I was prepared for those petty crimes. But I was wrong 🙂 The thieves in Prague are in a different level.
Prague is such an amazing city, and your photos capture the place so well. Thanks for the memories!