My love for Prague was definitely not one at first slight (for reasons listed in my earlier post http://wp.me/p29z7S-be ) but this city definitely grew on us when we gave it another chance. And later, we felt that it was one of the most beautiful and picturesque cities that we had visited during our trip.
I have been trying to write this post since a while now; but every time that I have tried to write, I been completely lost for what was the best thing about Prague or what can I describe it in one word as. Well I have given up on that now and realised that I loved practically everything here. We could explore this city for days at an end and still find newer and prettier things to see each day. Each building here is very modern as an establishment but still maintains its history and old looks. Also, it has something for everyone – starting from its history and culture to the most amazing party places and night clubs.
Continuing about our trip, we started our second day pretty early. We had a quick breakfast, left our hostel by 7.00am and started walking towards the Charles Bridge to reach the Prague Castle. There are a couple of ways to reach it, so we decided to walk uphill from the main town side and walk down from the staircase side on our return trip.
During the walk, we passed by the Old Town Square and saw all the buildings once again without any tourists this time and got an actual chance to see and photograph a lot of things that we had missed the previous day.
We then crossed the narrow by-lanes and reached the Charles Bridge. In Prague no matter where you get lost in these small lanes, you somehow always reach your destination and while you are lost you see some beautiful sights / churches etc that are not even a part of the guide books. I guess that’s what I really liked about Prague and getting lost here was the best way to explore this city. So leave the map behind for at least half a day and just get lost in its lanes and let it reveal its hidden secrets and gems to you.
Well, for now coming back to the Charles Bridge. The entrance to the bridge is through an extremely old Bridge Tower and once you pass the entrance you see the beautiful old bridge with 30 statues of saints along the sides. It is best to visit this bridge early in the morning before the crowds start their onslaught (as it tends to get super crowded) and then you can’t see anything. Since we were very early in the morning we had a nice time strolling along the bridge and seeing each statue up close and personal. On the bridge there is also a statue of St. John of Nepomuk, and touching the statue apparently fulfils your wishes, but we just couldn’t recognise the statue and ended up touching all of them. 🙂
Upon crossing the bridge, we continued the walk along the most beautiful part of the old city. This part of the city is definitely older and extremely beautiful. Along with seeing all the beautiful old buildings, we also had a very nice time peering through all the windows of the shops and seeing a lot of the traditional laces, glassware, handicrafts etc. It was an awesome walk.
We then started our walk uphill and reached the beautiful St. Nicholas Church. From there we just followed the signage and walked towards the Prague Castle. It was during this walk that we actually realised how unfit we were. By the time we reached the actual castle courtyard we were tired and panting with the short uphill walk.
Anyways we took a couple of seconds to soak in the view (and no we were not catching our breaths) and take photographs of the view of the city from here. Prague Castle is the largest castle complex in the whole world and houses numerous churches, castles, gardens, and quite a few other small buildings. There are a few options in terms of the tickets to see the castle and what it includes, so decide before hand on what you want to see and buy the tickets accordingly. At the entrance to the complex you see two guards standing at a complete attention and no matter what, they don’t even move a muscle. We saw loads of people taking pictures with them and cracking jokes to make them laugh, but they didn’t move at all and didn’t even smile. Well we were quite impressed.
We then entered the Prague Castle through the main ornate Matthias gate and were just struck with too many things at once – the size and the beauty of the complex, the historical facts and legends associated with it, and the variety of architectural styles in one place. We wanted to start with the St. Vitus Church, but we had gone there on a Sunday and hence had to wait till 12 pm.
So we started our visit with the oldest surviving church in the castle complex i.e. the Basilica of St. George (Bazilika sv. Jiri). This has an extremely old-looking basilica with a beautiful altar and some amazing paintings on the walls.
We then went to the Old Royal Palace where indoor jousting tournaments were held in the spacious Vladislav Hall (Vladislavsky sal) of the Old Royal Palace.
Post that we walked around the various courtyards, saw the tombs of St John of Nepomuk and St. Wenselas, saw the various Towers but didn’t climb up. We also saw the Sternberg Castle and the Toy museum.
We then walked to the Golden Lane which in the olden days was where all the merchants stayed, but it has now been converted to a kind of “museum” to see the lifestyle, clothes, utensils etc of the people in that time frame and also some beautiful small shops for souvenir shopping. This place also has the one of the oldest projectors. Just one piece of advice for tall people visiting the Golden Lane – Please mind your head.
By this time it was 12 o’clock so we then went and saw the elaborate change of guard ceremony, which was quite fun.
We then went and stood in the long queue for entry into the St Vitus Cathedral. When we entered this cathedral, we were left speechless with all the stained glass windows here and there are no words to describe them. The Church by itself is huge, there are some beautiful carvings around it and the ceilings and then there is a huge section which is completely made of silver. I later found an interesting note on St. Vitus Church which said that the Bohemian Crown Jewels (extremely precious possession of St. Vitus) are securely locked away in the Royal Treasury under seven locks and the keys in are held by different Church and governmental institutions. Anyways, this is one beautiful church and a must visit for everyone in Prague.
Post this we walked down through Mala Strana and came back to the Old Town Square through another part of the city. This part (I don’t know the name) was full of beautiful and huge gardens. These gardens had some beautiful trees, flowers, fountains, sculptures etc. We were extremely surprised as none of these gardens were mentioned in any of the travel itineraries and completely devoid of any tourists. So we sat here for a bit and relaxed our weary feet.
We then had a quick-lunch and decided to head towards the New Town Square to shop for gifts for friends and family back at home. Shopping in Prague is fun and you tend to find some unusual trinkets at really good prices. We shopped for quite a bit of stuff from here and I have written a detailed post on what to shopping in Prague.
We then walked along the main market squares and reached the New Town Square. The way is full of modern shops with glass facades and top brands and at the end of the street is the huge imposing National museum. By then it was quite late and we were tired so we decided to call it a day and ended the trip with a nice dinner.
We missed numerous things during this trip like the Jewish quarters, Strahov Monastery, Petrin Tower, the whole Franz Kafka history, river cruise, etc but I have kept it all for another trip to Prague, which I hope will be soon.
Tips for the trip –
- All streets in Prague have cobblestones and its extremely painful to walk on them if you don’t have the right footwear. So please keep a comfortable pair of shoes for this walk.
- The walk uphill to Prague Castle is quite tiring, so take care if you have any health issues.
- In the Prague Castle – there are a few options in terms of the tickets what all it includes, so decide before hand on what you want to see and buy the tickets accordingly.
- Keep at least 3 – 4 full days to explore Prague as you will not be able to see it all.