Unveiling the Best-Kept Secrets of Prague: Your Ultimate Guide to Exploring the City's Hidden Gems
Prague is as pretty as the websites and travel brochures promise and, thankfully for river cruise travelers, it’s typically a highlight of your Danube River voyage. To get the most out of this Czech Republic gem, I suggest staying a few days before or after your cruise to soak up the lively culture, cuisine, and architecture of the historic city.
Charles IV is to thank for the Parisian style of the capital, which sits alongside the Vltava River, having shaped it in his own stately vision. Today you can enjoy its “hundred spires,” Art Nouveau facades, Black Madonna, and the world’s first Cubist building.
While I can’t possibly list all of Prague’s pearls here, I suggest using this as a starting point for your own discoveries.
Learn about the 12th-century origins of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town as you explore the square, the Týn Church (or The Church of Our Lady), which houses the city’s oldest pipe organ and an impressive Baroque altarpiece, and the Gothic-style Old Town Hall.
Pause for a moment (or an hour!) at the Old Town Hall, which houses Prague’s iconic astronomical clock. Installed in 1410, the colorful clock is the third oldest of its kind in the world and the oldest that is still working. Look for the Sun and Moon, the calendar display, the four characters that represent Vanity, Greed, Lust, and Death, and listen as the skeleton (Death) rings the bell each hour, signifying - somberly! - another hour lost, as the other figures shake their heads in dismay.
Get to or depart from Old Town via the Gothic-style, pedestrian-only Charles Bridge, decorated with 30 statues and statuaries of various saints.
Don’t miss the 9th-century castle, one of the largest ancient castles in the world. Check out the Bohemian Crown Jewels as you explore what is the current official presidential residence in the Czech Republic. Wander through gardens, churches, and a vineyard, perhaps catching a Changing of the Guards ceremony while you’re there.
Malá Strana- Prague’s Lesser Town
Don’t be misled by the rather demeaning nickname of this district that lies at the foothills of Prague Castle. Founded in 1257 by King Ottokar II of Bohemia, it was first considered the “new town.” However, once Charles IV founded what he deemed the “New Town of Prague” in 1348, the original “new town” became the “lesser town.” Confusing? A bit, but the good news is that the Lesser Town is greatly enticing. This bustling neighborhood full of cobblestone streets, lively pubs, and excellent restaurants is filled with local character. While you’re there, check out the Lennon Wall and St. Nicholas Church,
Learn about Prague’s Jewish community through the centuries at this insightful museum comprised of six Jewish monuments close together in Josefov. You’ll find the Maisel Synagogue, the Pinkas Synagogue, the Spanish Synagogue, the Klaus Synagogue, the Ceremonial Hall, and the Old Jewish Cemetery on the grounds. If you have time, visit the early-Gothic-style Old-New Synagogue, completed around 1270 and Europe’s oldest working synagogue.
I have my eye on quite a few lovely Danube River cruises that include the chance to explore Prague pre- or post-trip, whether you’re looking for sightseeing highlights or would like to experience Europe’s charming Christmas markets. Ask me about them today! Reach out by booking a consultation through my Services page!