Just take a walk in Prague
The Czech Republic is not a large country but has a rich and eventful history. From time immemorial Czechs, Germans, Jews and Slovaks, as well as Italian stonemasons and stucco workers, French tradesmen and deserters from Napoleon’s army have all lived and worked here, all influencing one another. And for a country that’s only been around since 1993, the Czech Republic does a fine job of showcasing its history and traditions.
Indeed, Prague, the capital and largest city in the republic, is now one of the most popular destinations in Europe. Prague is home to a number of famous cultural attractions and much of the city is quite beautiful.
One of the best ways to understand the culture and see the architecture is by simply taking a walk along the winding and cobblestoned streets while observing the people and surroundings, churches and other edifices that line any street.
Prague was first settled in the ninth century by the Přemysl dynasty. In the mid-fourteenth century the Bohemian king and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV founded Charles University in Prague. Charles IV was also responsible for the construction of the famous Charles Bridge spanning the Vltava River. In 1526 the Hapsburgs came to power in Prague, and not until the end of World War I and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire did they relinquish control of the city. In 1918 Prague became the capital of the newly formed democratic republic of Czechoslovakia.
In 1968 a movement known as the Prague Spring attempted a series of liberalizing reforms from within the government, only to be crushed by the Warsaw Pact forces led by the Soviet Union. In 1989, non-violent protests on Prague’s Wenceslaus Square toppled the Communist government in the Velvet Revolution (so named because of the lack of bloodshed). The new democracy elected as its president the prominent Czech playwright and philosopher Vaclav Havel. In 1993 Czechoslovakia split into two parts, with Prague remaining as the capital of the ‘new’ Czech Republic.
As a result of hundreds of years of history, visitors can take in sites ranging from the time of the Holy Roman Empire to the Communist party.
Prague, which is located on both sides of the Vltava River in central Bohemia, is now renowned as being one of the most beautiful – and culture-rich – cities in Europe. It is recommended that you should spend at least three days here. The city is very compact and has an effective transportation system that makes it easy traverse. Prague can be very cold during the winter months and hot in the summer, so the best times to visit are in the fall and spring.
Prague is bursting at the seams with things to do. Highbrow pursuits rival opportunities for more frivolous entertainment. Whether you choose the city’s rich musical heritage or simply enjoy a pint of Pilsner in one of its legendary beer cellars, this is the city where there really is something for everyone.
Most visitors just enjoy relaxed walking in Prague and discovering nice views, historic buildings, religious icons and famous inhabitants. There are plenty of walking tours to choose from, some covering the general history of the city while others are focused on specific themes such as the history of the Jewish community, Romanesque Prague, Gothic Prague, Baroque Prague, Renaissance Prague or Composers’ Prague. You can join a group or book your own personal guide.
If the idea of walking does not appeal to you, you can always blend culture with comfort by taking a ride through Prague instead. Horse-drawn carriages carry you at a gentle pace through the cobbled streets of Old Town. Or you can opt for a ride in a vintage car – open-top, weather permitting. Riverboats are another option for seeing the city from a different viewpoint.
Attractions which you must visit are the Charles Bridge; Old Town Square, including the Astronomical Clock; the Prague Castle and the Jewish Quarter. Prague is a city of red rooftops, towers and golden spires and picture-postcard views. You should be sure to visit lofty vantage points such as Vyšehrad, Petřín Hill Tower, Letná Park and St Henry’s Tower.
While you are in Prague, you must see / do …
Listen to some Mozart at the Estates Theatre. The Estates Theatre hosted the première of Mozart’s Don Giovanni in 1787 and this opera can still be seen here today (Which is also performed by puppets at the National Marionette Theatre).
Take a walk up Wenceslas Square stopping to look at Josef Myslbek’s famous equestrian statue of St. Wenceslas and the small shrine to the martyrs of the communist era. The square became the focus for demonstrating Praguers and has been the scene of both tragic and joyous events in the city’s history – most recently the Velvet Revolution in 1989.
Rent a row boat or pedalo on the Vltava River, which will give you an interesting new perspective on the city. You will find boat rentals open every day from April to the end of October.
Visit one of Prague’s many hidden churches and cloisters, which are often used for musical concerts and, therefore, rehearsals. Slip in through the side door, pay your respects and, if possible, stay for the angelic acoustics.
Take a trip, during the summer months, on Prague’s historic Tram 91. The National Theatre, Lesser Town Square and Wenceslas Square are all boarding points.
Visit the Prague Zoo. After a flood in 2002 it turned into one of the most beautiful gardens in Europe. The area of the Prague zoo is 60 hectares. More than 5000 animals representing 650 species live in the 10 pavilions and outside expositions.
Enjoy a river cruise and you can easily find out why Prague is considered to be one of the world’s most romantic cities. Taking a leisurely cruise along the Vltava can also be a great opportunity to see Prague’s architectural gems while enjoying lunch or dinner on the boat. All cruises run year-round.
The Czech Republic
From the cosmopolitan capital of Prague to the back-in-time villages of Moravia, the Czech Republic offers a great cultural variety.
Prague is one of the most dynamic and trendy cities in Europe, showcasing an array of architectural styles, museums and galleries, new design boutique hotels, trendy restaurants and shops.
In order to plan your visit in advance, and ensure that you do not miss whatever may interest you, visit our website at usa.czechtourism.com where you can explore 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, world-renowned Spa towns and over 2000 castles! You will find suggested itineraries, an events calendar, upcoming trade events, press releases and newsletters.
For travel specials to the Czech Republic you can visit traveldeals.czechtourism.com where you will find tours and packages that fit any budget and comfort level.
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