Last month, we had some friends come to visit and one of the places we went was Prague! My husband and I have visited Prague before, but that was before we moved to Poland. It is a beautiful city and worth all the hype that it gets as a must-visit place in Europe. Prague was much larger than I remembered, but just as beautiful. And, totally doable in three days or less.
First things first, we did drive to Prague from Wroclaw, which takes about 3.5 – 4 hours depending on traffic and what way your GPS decides to take you… If you plan to drive in the Czech, remember to buy a highway pass once you cross into the country from Poland (they can be purchased at any highway gas station). Also, have parking arranged before you arrive – it is a large city with lots of tourists and not too many parking garages near the center (the area where you would want to stay) so save yourself some stress and ask your hotel where the best place is to park before getting there. Anyways, on to the more exciting things: the pictures!
We arrived on a Thursday afternoon but didn’t do too much site seeing until Friday morning (remember, I am 7 months pregnant at this point and had to be careful not to walk too much this trip). On Friday morning, we joined a free walking tour. It was excellent and I would highly recommend it. It takes you through the old city and the Jewish Quarter all the while learning interesting facts. Very entertaining – just wear your walking shoes!
Here are some photos of the Old Town:
It may be hard to see at first in the image below, but the two church towers are actually different widths. Many claim it was an accident and it wasn’t until it was questioned that the church said, ugh yeah, we meant to do that….
Below: the famous Prague Astronomical Clock. This clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still working. At the top of the hour, the figurines move and tourists crowd to watch it. Then, the tourists wait around for about 10 minutes after the ‘show’ thinking, “That can’t be it. Can it?” Well yes, that’s it. There isn’t much to see during the show, but that isn’t what makes this clock so amazing – it is more about the sophistication of the clock and all it does, especially considering when it was built! If you’re interested in learning more about the astronomical clock, this page does a great explaining how to read it- from the signs of the zodiac to the phases of the moon. It’s worth a look.
Luckily, Prague was not destroyed during WWII as many other European cities sadly were. However, our guide told us that a bomb was accidentally dropped by the USA (apparently, the USA said they thought it was Dresden….no comment). The bomb fell and destroyed the town hall. However, the people didn’t like the town hall all that much, so they did not rebuild it. You can see below the beige colored wall to the right is where the town hall once extended.
And now we make our way into the Jewish Quarter of Prague. Our guide told us that the only reason the Jewish Quarter still survives is because Hitler had plans to make the area a museum about the lost race. Such a sad time in history.
Below, the Old New Synagogue – the oldest synagogue in Europe. And yes, it really is called Old New. Also, notice the two clocks on the building to the right? Well, one runs counter clockwise but no one could read it so the city installed another clock. They didn’t want to remove the original since they had already paid for it so now there are two.
The Spanish Synagogue:
Really, just walking around Prague admiring the architecture is reason enough to go on a walking tour. Seriously, take a look at some of these photos from around the city 🙂 It’s such a charming town.
Our walking tour concluded near the Prague Castle, another main attraction of the city. Here’s a fun fact about the castle: did you know the Rolling Stones paid for the night lighting of the entire castle? Story goes that when the Stones came to visit for a show, they were on a tour of the city with the President and the castle was not lit up at night. The Rolling Stones wondered why and the President said the castle was not lit due to costs. So the Stones paid for it and their stage lighting crew designed it. Pretty interesting bit of info there, if I do say so myself.
After our walking tour, we went out to a lovely Czech dinner and called it an early night. Make sure to try some Goulash if you find yourself in the Czech Republic – and no, this goulash does not contain noodles or pasta sauce like it does in the US.
The next day, we went to the other side of the river to the Prague Castle, which is the President’s official residence of the country. This is the largest ancient castle in the world and occupies an area of almost 70,000 m2, about seven football fields in size. Obviously, an attraction not to be missed.
And the view from the castle is simply stunning.
Make sure not to miss St. Vitus Cathedral located on the castle complex. During our time living in Europe, we have seen many cathedrals and this one is one of the most impressive we have visited to date. (Plus, it’s free to enter.)
We also happened to stumble across the changing of the guards ceremony. Not too entertaining, but a nice addition to our self-guided tour.
There is so much to see here on the castle complex – you could easily spend a day walking around and touring the buildings. Though we didn’t have time for an official tour, I would recommend booking one as I would have loved to learn more about the amazing structures and all the history behind them. Here are some more images from around the castle grounds.
And with that, we were in the car headed back to Wroclaw. I leave you with a very interesting door found from the castle because, well, you know how much I love doors 😉