The ancient city of Prague has always attracted a great number of visitors from around the world because it features some of the most magnificent places in all of Europe.
STAROMĚSTSKÉ NÁMĚSTÍ (OLD TOWN SQUARE)
Staroměstské náměstí is located in the heart of the Staré Město, which was originally a small market colony on the Židovský ostrov (Jewish Isle). Here was located the oldest marketplace, Staroměstské náměstí which gradually became the center of the settlement round the castle and an important road ran through the square into the customs court, Ungelt. The square is bordered by many interesting buildings of historic and architectural value.
Probably the most famous is the Staroměstská radnice (Old Town Hall) with the Prague Astronomical Clock, Týnský chrám (Týn Church), dům U Kamenného zvonu (The Stone Bell House), palác Kinských (Kinský Palace), chrám sv. Mikuláše (St. Nicholas Church), dům U minuty (House of a Minute) and others.
In the central part of the square is the circular sculpture representing Jan Hus, created by the sculptor L. Šaloun. Below is an absolutely stunning video of the 600th anniversary of one of the greatest clocks on the planet. This took place in October 2010.
PRAŽSKÝ HRAD (PRAGUE CASTLE) AND HRADČANY
Hradčany is the Prague quarter situated below the Pražský hrad and founded in 1320. Apart from Pražský hrad (Prague Castle) with all its interests there is much more to see – Loreta, Černínský palác (Černín Palace), Arcibiskupský palác (Archbishops Palace), Strahovský klášter (Strahov Monastery), Belvedér etc.
As early as 880 in the 9th century the castle of the family of Přemyslovci was established in this strategic location. In the following centuries the castle underwent frequent reconstructions and in 1918 the castle became the residence of the President of the Czechoslovak state. Under the auspices of the first president, T. G. Masaryk several architectural modifications in the area of the castle were conducted by the prominent architect Josip Plečnik.
In the territory of Pražský hrad (Prague Castle) there usually take place various cultural events and exhibitions such as Císařská konírna (Imperial Stables), Jízdárna Pražského hradu (The Prague Castle Riding Hall), Purkrabství in the Obrazárna Pražského hradu (Prague Castle Gallery) has extensive collections of rare works of art. Changing of the guard takes place each hour between 5:00 AM and 23:00 PM and each day at noon a ceremonial fanfare is performed.
MALÁ STRANA (LESSER TOWN)
Malá Strana, founded in 1257, is spread over the hillside under the Pražský hrad. Of all quarters of Prague, Malá Strana has undergone the least changes in the past centuries – since the end of the 18th century there have emerged only a few new buildings. The pride of Malá Strana is the imposing baroque palaces and old houses. Its centre is Malostranské náměstí (Lesser Town Square) with the chrám sv. Mikuláše (St. Nicholas Church). Visitors are enchanted by the beautiful view from Malá Strana across the river Vltava to Staré Město (Old Town).
KARLŮV MOST (CHARLES BRIDGE)
When mentioning Prague, most tourists recall Karlův most. It is a gorgeous monumental construction that at any time of the year attracts crowds of tourists. It is located on the location of the old bridge of Judita, which was damaged by the flood in 1342. Sometimes it is also called “Stone Bridge”. Like almost every place in old Prague, Karlův most is full of myths. The first myth is related to its construction when it is said that to ensure its strength, the mortar was fortified with uncooked eggs.
The building of the stone bridge was among the first structural activities of the emperor Karel IV. The foundation stone was laid in 1357. Since the 17th century the pillars of the bridge have been decorated with statues and sculptures from famous sculptors of Prague baroque (M. Braun, F. M. Brokoff and others). The promenade along the bridge is enlivened by street performers, musicians and stands with arts and handcraft. Karlův most has an unforgettable ambience at any time, day or night. The bridge is 515 metres long and 10 metres wide.
PRAŽSKÝ HRAD (PRAGUE CASTLE)
Pražský hrad, or also Hrad or Hradčany, with its artistic architectural character, but also with historic significance, counts among the most important cultural objects in the Czech Republic. As the residence of rulers and in later years, the president, Pražský hrad is a place, where its appearance has reflected in addition to the distinct architectural styles, the needs of the actual residents.
In every epoch it primarily represented the seat of governmental institutions (ruler, president), in its space is situated an array of buildings (e.g. cathedral of St. Vít, palaces of the aristocracy, monastery complex of St. Jiří with the basilica of St. Jiří), which make it a unique object of Czech culture and architecture. Due to these facts both native and foreign visitors constantly visit this outstanding building.
KRÁLOVSKÉ ZAHRADY (KING GARDENS) AND MÍČOVNA (BALL GAMES HOUSE)
Královské zahrady were founded in 1534 and each day at 10:00 AM they are opened to the sound of ceremonial fanfare from the Hartigovský pavilion. The gardens form pleasant surroundings for quiet walks and are decorated with sculptures. There is also situated there the king ball game house, the renaissance building decorated with graffiti and frescos with allegorical motives. Nowadays it is utilised as a concert or exhibition area. Public access is possible only in the summer.
ZLATÁ ULIČKA (GOLDEN LANE)
Picturesque corners of Zlatá ulička, bordered by little houses originated in the 16th century and built-in to the late-Gothic fortification, enchants perhaps every visitor. In the house No. 22 lived for the short time, Franz Kafka. From the 16th century the houses served as dwellings of castle craftsmen although nowadays there are small shops selling handicrafts and souvenirs. The entrance fee into Zlatá ulička is included in the ticket to Pražský hrad.
KRÁLOVSKÁ CESTA (KING’S PATHWAY)
Following this route, you can imagine tracing the ceremonial coronation path of Czech kings. It is bordered by important monuments, connecting the Staré Město with Hradčany (Prašná brána (The Powder Tower), Celetná street, Staroměstské náměstí, Karlova street, Karlův most, Mostecká street and Nerudova street) and with the entrance gate of the Pražský hrad. There are also plenty of typical Czech pubs and shops selling handicrafts and souvenirs.
In the 10th century Vyšehrad was the residence of Czech princes from the Přemyslovci dynasty. Vyšehrad is a marvellous and calm place situated on the rock above the river Vltava. In the park at Vyšehrad you may notice the remainder of an old princes palace. As a remembrance of the ages passed a long time ago serves the rotunda of St. Martin.
Attached to the church of St. Petr and Pavel is a cemetery called Slavín where are the tombs of famous Czech scientists, artists and patrons, for example, the scientist J. E. Purkyně, composers A.Dvořák or B. Smetana. A walk on the periphery of the fortification allows you to overlook Prague almost from a bird’s eye perspective.
Among the most important monuments in Vyšehrad are ranked the capitulary church of St. Petr and Pavel, the burial grounds of Slavín, Leopold Gate from the 1670s, the rotunda of St. Martin, the cubist house of the architect J. Chochola which is from the beginning of the 20th century and the statues from J.V. Myslbek placed in the gardens of Vyšehrad.