A glorious, seen-better-days, art nouveau masterpiece amid the tourist tat of Wenceslas Square. The gound floor area is stunning and the pavement tables are a good place to people watch over a couple of cold ones, though a bit pricy for Prague. We stayed here in 2004 and got the room for less than £70 via a Czech website, so shop around. Though the rooms are in need of refurbishing this should not detract from the general ambience, or the central location. There is a metro station within yards and you are spoilt for choice with trams, including the night service.
The fast food kiosks all over Wenceslas Square are best avoided, a charming young lady gave me change for Kc100 when I gave her a Kc500 note, when I queried this she paid up without batting an eyelid, obviously not the first fat idiot from Gateshead she'd attempted to fleece.
Vaclavske Nam, just south of the junction with Jindrisska; nearest metro: Mustek
If you go into the town hall (entrance on the Old Town Square near the astrological clock) you can buy a ticket to climb the staircase that will take you to the roof. From here there are marvellous views of the square itself, including a unique view of the Tyn church, as well as views across the city in all directions from this central location.
Old Town Square
If, having climbed the hill to the Castle, you’re in the mood for a bit more climbing then this is the one for you. Behind the Castle is Petrin hill, at the top of which is a small replica of the Eiffel Tower, which is nevertheless about 60 metres high, and which you can ascend for what must be the highest view across the city. The tower has 299 steps and a little café at the bottom which most people seem grateful for after all the steps. It’s a pleasant walk up to the tower, but there’s also a funicular that runs from the Ujezd tram stop in Mala Strana.
A little esoteric maybe, but it’s a very cute lamppost. It’s hidden away in its own little mini-square behind the lower southern side of Wenceslas Square. It’s also just in front of one of the entrances to the wonderfully named Church of Our Lady of the Snows. It’s one of those objects to photograph each other by and, in its own small way, seems to sum up the atmosphere of the city - and it is the only one in the world.
Panny Marie Snezne
One of the world's finest Art Nouveau buildings: impressive outside, stunning within, right down to the light fittings and door handles. Includes bar, restaurant and cafe, as well as concert hall and other facilities (guided tours available). The ground floor cafe is an inexpensive place for morning coffee, lunch or afternoon tea in exquisite, stylish surroundings.
Metro : Namesti Republiky (straight across the square)
Frank Gehry and Vlado Milunic's 1996 concrete and glass confection, nicknamed "Fred and Ginger" because it resmbles a pair of male and female dancers, is a refreshingly modern touch amid all the baroque beauties. There's a restaurant at the top with views, La Perle de Prague - but it's pricey.
Commissioned by Charles IV to replace the earlier Judith Bridge the Charles Bridge was, until 1741, the only crossing over the Vltava.
The bridge links Stare Mesto and Mala Strana and on a trip to Prague you'll probably find yourself strolling accros it on much more than one occassion.
The bridge itself is a beautiful piece of architecture and engineering, lined with statues (get yourself a good guide book which lists the sculptures) and punctuated on either end with towers. The views from the towers, along the bridge and over Stare Mesto at one end and Mala Strana at the other, are wonderful. Indeed you won't be stuck for photo opportunities. The bridge itself and the views over the Vltava towards Petrin Hill and the Castle will have you reaching for your camera. There are also stalls saying a range of crafts and souveniers and plenty of buskers entertaining the crowds. And it does get very - and I mean very - crowded. Try and go early-ish in the morning to catch the views without too many people around
At night it is just magical. Lit by street lamps, the statues dark silhouettes against the sky, the lights of Prague illuminating the buildings and reflected in the river it can feel almost un-real. As if you have stepped back in time to the late 19th early 20th Century.
The church of St. Peter and St. Paul, whose spires dominate the Vysehrad skyline, is a wonderful example of neo-gothic architecture. The cemetery, founded in 1869, is a burial place for some of the Czech Republic's most famous people, for example Dvorak and Smetana. The monuments are quite stunning, expecially the Slavin (Pantheon) and the whole place exudes an atmosphere of calm, peace and serenity. There are also wondeful views of the Vltava from the park
Take Metro Line C to Vysehrad then it's a short walk.
Beautful Art Deco building which hosts nightly classical concerts. Best bit is the cafe on the ground floor (on the left as you go in): everything a MittelEuropean coffee house should be. Ideal for killing an hour or so.
Namesti Republiky, Old Town
It is one of the best preserved monuments of baroque in Europe, but unfortunately only few know and are able to enjoy this true masterpiece. It is a fairly large church near the Charles bridge in Prague. From the outside it does not look that impressive but once you are inside you are lost for words. I hope more English go for the architecture of this beautiful city rather than cheap beer; they just miss the point of being in Prague!
Malostranske namesti; 118 26 Prague, Czech Republic 30 min walk from the centre (Old Town Hall)
25 kilometres south west of Prague, Karlstejn is a picturesque village worth walking around in itself, but it also boasts its own impressive castle. Built by Charles IV in the 14th century, it sits on top of a hill and rather dominates everything from the streets below, looking suspiciously ‘Disneyesque’ amid the surrounding fir trees. The views from the castle are sufficient reason in themselves to make the climb, though the interiors are interesting enough, if somewhat restricted due to some unfortunate past acts of vandalism.
By train – from Smichov station in Prague (Smichovske nadrazi metro) or take a guided tour, widely available in the city centre
The first statue to be placed on Charles Bridge was that of St. John Nepomuk in 1623. St. John Nepomuk was arrested by Wenceslas IV in 1393 after displeasing the King. He died under torture and his body was thrown from the Charles Bridge into the Vltava. On the base of the statue are bronze relief panels depicting his martyrdom. These have become polished over time as touching the reliefs is said to bring luck and there is usually a fair queue of people testing this out.
On the Charles Bridge - towards the Mala Strana side
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