Since its liberation from the soviet-inspired government, the Czech Republic and its capital Prague have become one of the most popular tourist destinations of Europe. The beauty, history and cultural heritage of Prague are deep, worth exploring, and experiencing.
Prague is a most majestic town and mind frequently wandered to Rome – the city which resembles Prague more than any other. For completeness’ sake, I would like to mention the splendour of a celebration at which the aristocratic beauty of the Prague women, their magnificent gait and robes, so charming and elegant in the blooming Spring Gardens of the Palace, remind me of Dante’s Paradise.
August Rodin 1902
Rodin, the famous French sculptor, was right. Prague, located on both banks of the Vltava River is steeped in history, but beautiful, culturally rich and architecturally rewarding.
Several bridges, the most famous of which is the Charles Bridge connect both parts of the city. The Bridge has been declared “ for pedestrians only “ to allow tourists to admire it leisurely and take in the vistas of Prague.
Starting in the ninth century, and due to its central location in Europe, Prague has been the focal point of merchants from all over the world. Many settled here. It is said that the women of Prague are the most attractive and beautiful in Europe.
Prague is a town to enjoy on foot. Every step will reveal a new architectural wonder, a new vista, an interesting individual or even a wonderful piece of art, like a creation of crystal by an unknown master craftsman.
Start with the Old Town Hall where the astrological clock has been measuring time for centuries.
The Charles Bridge, built by an edict of Charles IV in mid 14th century links the Old Town to the Lesser Quarter of Prague. The origins of the Lesser Quarter can be traced back to the 13th century, but its current appearance reflects 16th century town layout due to a devastating fire in 1541.
The Kampa Island in the middle of the Vltava River owes its present shape and size to the debris of this fire dumped here. Today the island houses a tranquil park for strolls and quiet contemplation.
The nearby Prague Castle, surrounded by 1000-year-old walls, has been the seat of monarchs, kings and emperors from time immemorial, and each ruler has left his architectural legacy by building an addition, or a new freestanding structure. The overall look of the present castle originates from Empress Maria Theresa of Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today the castle is the residence of the president of the Republic. Pass the guards, and enter the First Castle Courtyard. Inevitably you will walk towards Saint Vitus Cathedral, a breath-taking example of ecclesiastical architecture, again created by Charles IV. He invited the best architects of the time to create this masterpiece.
After passing the Old Royal Palace and the Basilica of Saint George you come to the Golden Lane, where, under the orders of Emperor Rudolf II, alchemists tried to convert base metals to gold. Now you can return to the Hradcany Square via the Southern Prague Castle Gardens, which afford a stunning view of the Lesser Quarter. Renaissance Schwarzenberg Palace (now the Military Museum), and the Archbishop’s Palace, leading to the Sternberg Palace (now housing National Gallery’s Ancient European Art collection) dominate the Hradcany Quarter, situated next to the Prague Castle.
Nearby you can visit the Loreta containing a replica of the Santa Casa Chapel, a number of chapels and a church.
Cross the Vltava River and you enter the new town of Prague, which was founded in the 14th century by Charles IV. The largest square here, a former cattle market, is now called Charles Square. The Wenceslas Square, the main thoroughfare of Prague, was created in the 14th century and served originally as a horse market, an animal in great demand at the time.
No visit to Prague
is complete without going to the Josefov Quarter, a former Jewish town, today still housing several synagogues and a Jewish cemetery. The synagogues contain splendid collections, of which the Pinkas Synagogue is the most famous.
The Troja Chateau, located close to downtown was built as a summer palace, and now houses the collections of the Art Gallery of Prague.
This Baroque chateau is bound to increase your appreciation of Baroque architecture and garden design.
boasts innumerable cafes, restaurants and pubs, (Czechs consume some 150 litres of beer per capita, more than Germans) but fine food is difficult to find. Portions are large, but heavily laden with starch, garlic, fat and little else. Your best bet maybe sausages and soups. Bread quality is fairly good and pastries passable.
When it comes to beer and pub atmosphere Prague is hard to beat. Any pub will serve fresh, properly pulled Czech draught beer you can enjoy thoroughly.
The city’s glorious tradition of concerts and cultural life offers many opportunities to listen to philharmonic music at its best, and you can take in concerts staged in Baroques churches and palaces.
Many world-famous composers like W. A Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, B. Smetana and H. Berlioz conducted their work here and stayed on to compose more.
Before leaving Prague you must shop for world-famous Czech crystal and finely crafted jewellery.
If you go: Several airlines operate non-stop flights to major European hubs where you can connect to fly to Prague.
Always reserve you accommodation before departure. There are several fine hotels, mid-priced establishments and many bed and breakfast operations.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.