Elena Sprick is the ISA Site Specialist for Belgium, Colombia and the Czech Republic.
Prague boasts a numerous points of interest throughout the city such as the Charles Bridge, the Prague Castle (the biggest in the world!), Old Town Square and much more. But the great thing about this magical city is that there are just as many lesser known spots that are equally as beautiful. Because these locations are kept off most tourists’ to do lists, they are great places to enjoy the beauty of Prague without having to fight the crowds. Study abroad in Prague, and discover first-hand its top 5 best kept secrets:
1. Vyšehrad Fortress – A 10th-century fort nestled high above the banks of the Vltava River, the Vyšehrad Fortress has some of the best views of the castle along with plenty of its own history to boot. The Vyšehrad cemetery holds the remains of the some of the most famous Czech artists including Antonín Dvořák (composer), Alphonse Mucha (painter) and Karel Čapek (writer). The neighboring Gothic-style church contains a surprisingly bright interior with incredibly beautiful and unique art nouveau style paintings and murals. On summer days Vyšehrad is a great place to enjoy the green parks by bringing a picnic and basking in the sunshine, history and beautiful views.
2. Olšany Cemetery (Olšany hřbitovy) – While Vysehrad may be best to visit in the sunshine, my favorite time to visit this historic cemetery is on a snowy winter day. The largest graveyard in the Czech Republic, this hauntingly beautiful place is filled with magnificent winged angel statues and intricately decorated mausoleums. At any time of year it’s a gorgeous place to wander up and down the isles and reflect on the past.
3. Letna Park (Letenské sady) – Letna, which roughly translates as “summer,” is one of the most popular places for locals to spend their time on a sunny day. The park is filled with open grassy areas, lively beer gardens, peaceful walking trails and, of course, plenty of happy dogs. Mosey over to the Hanavský pavilion in the southwest corner of the park for postcard-worthy views of Prague’s incredible bridges. The park is also home to a large metronome keeping the beat of the city in the same spot where there once stood the largest statue of Stalin in all of Europe.
4. Nový Svět Street – Just outside of the castle, this small street is such a well kept secret that I did not even discover it until after my year in Prague (but I did make it there on a return visit). This small winding alley is filled with very tiny and colorful houses. The homes’ unique features, like intricate door knockers and painted pictures, are used to identify each house instead of numbers. Traditionally a poor artists’ neighborhood, this is a quaint and quiet alternative to the very touristy Golden Lane.
5. Strahov Monastery – Located just beyond the Prague Castle and next to Petrin Hill, the Strahov Monastery doesn’t end up on most tourists’ lists, though it is definitely worth taking a look. The monastery dates back to the 1100’s and houses an incredible library with ancient texts, intricately frescoed ceilings and antique globes. Bonus: Step outside for sweeping views looking out over the castle.
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