In the next few weeks, I have a few friends who are planning on visiting Prague. This means I finally get to show off my new found knowledge of the city! I have been thinking about a few possible walking routes that would optimize their time here, and I think I finally have one down.
I live in Prague 5, which is on the same side of the river as the castle. Below is a potential route, with a few fun facts thrown in for good measure. Make sure you walk slow, and let it soak in!
My Apartment/Petrin hill and the Communist Monument:
Walking out the door of my apartment and turn left. The giant hill you see towering in front of you is called Petrin Hill–a good weekend escape on a sunny day. Here you will find walking paths, benches overlooking the city, and couples going for a stroll. Also at the top of Petrin Hill is a wonderfully hidden garden, and the Eiffel Tower of Prague. In my opinion, this is the best view of Prague.
At the base of the hill is a particularly clever monument to those who’s “lives we’re lost or destroyed by communism”. The steps leading up to the monument are slanted downwards, making the walk up frustrating and very tiring. The monument itself is a man whose body begins to disappear the further up he gets on the steps.
Ideally you would continue to Prague Castle from here for the daytime view, but if time does not allow, then continue to Charles Bridge. Don’t worry, we end at Prague Castle, so it will definitely be seen!
Probably the most famous landmark in Prague, the Charles Bridge is a must see. It is lined with statues of Saints, Kings and all kinds of important people. As you walk across, imagine the bustling markets and street performances that used to occupy the bridge. There’s a few modern day versions today, but certainly not the same as back in the day!
Old Town Bridge Tower
This is one of my favorites in Prague- mostly because of the hidden secrets that the designer and King Charles included in the architecture. A generalized idea- the tower contains four “levels”: Stellar, Solar, Lunar and Terrestrial. In each level there are several architectural features with a significant meaning. Mostly, they relate to the cycle of life, and the importance of heavenly power. As you walk through the passageway under the three upper levels, you are reminded of the insignificance of terrestrial life, or humanity in relation to everything.
Continue on to…
Old Towne Square
Old Towne Square has plenty of awesomeness going on, but one of my favorite things to do is just slowly walk through the crowds of tourists and enjoy my surroundings. Here, in addition to the beautiful architecture, you will also find the Astronomical Clock, a Monument to Jan Huss (burned at the stake in 1415), and the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn. If you arrive on the hour, you will see a famous, yet somewhat unsatisfying performance at the Clock. If you get bored with the performance (you might), look to your right and try to see which tower on the church is wider. That one is supposed to symbolize Adam, and the skinnier one is Eve.
Another famous square in Prague, here you will find several important historical monuments. At the top of the square is a statue of St. Wencelsas, the patron Saint of Prague. Behind him is the National Museum, and in the base of its walls you might find bullet holes from the Soviet occupation in 1968. Look closely!
Now is when I would suggest taking a break,because you’ve been hopefully walking for a few hours. Here you can also decide how to end the rest of your tour. There are several options:
- Shopping along Wenceslas and Old Towne Square.
- Heading back to Petrin Hill and relaxing in the beautiful gardens. Make sure to pass by the National Theater on your way!
- If you haven’t had a beer in the Czech Republic yet, go to any pub and order one. I suggest Goulash to accompany it.
After you have killed some time, start to make your way back to Prague Castle. Make sure it is at sunrise or later, you need to be at the Castle at night.
Well, there isn’t much else to be said for the castle except that it is beautiful. It is the largest castle in Europe, and St. Vitus Cathedral is one of my favorite sights. The castle looks over the entire city, and it is especially breathtaking at night. The city comes alive in a whole new way! See if you can pick out the monuments you walked by during the day- and if not, then put your camera away and just observe. You can’t capture the whole view–not as well as your memory can anyways.
Prague, Czech Republic