A city that never ceases to amaze

Every minute of every hour of every day, a city to explore. Medieval palaces, a bustling commercial area, or a quiet pub. You won’t find as many architectural monuments, galleries, concerts, nature preserves, or as much entertainment and relaxation in one small space anywhere else on earth.

A city that never ceases to amaze

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Webgoddess on June 20, 2005

Prague is all I expected and more. I think I fell in love with this city during the very first day. Medieval architecture, opera, history, red rooftops, narrow cobblestone streets and passageways, castles, fountains, statues, quaint shops, great restaurants, lively pubs, and possibly the friendliest people on the planet. What's not to love?

Don't miss the many sights in and around Old Town Square: the churches, shops, astronmical clock, and medieval architecture are awe-inspiring. Saint Nicholas Church hosts classical music concerts most evenings. The square is a great place to mingle with other tourists as well as locals... they're very friendly. There are more winding paths than you'll ever have time to explore.

The Prague Castle and surrounding village are charming and picturesque. Plan to spend a full day or longer exploring this area. There's an awful lot of eye candy here as well as a lot of history. You can ride the funicular up the hill to the Petrin tower for an awesome view of the city.

This has to be the cleaneast city I've ever experienced. The Charles Bridge is the best way to get between Lesser Town and Old Town. Walking across the bridge is an interesting experience in itself--musicians, artisans and gypsies abound. Both sides of the bridge are lined with interesting statues--each with its own story to tell.${QuickSuggestions} Wear comfortable shoes--while the cobblestone streets are quite picturesque, they can really do a number on high-heeled shoes. The best way to experience this city is on foot and you'll be doing a lot of walking.

Also, you'll get the best exchange rates by using your ATM card--usually no fees and a fair exchange rate. At the legitimate-looking commercial exchange shops throughout the city, they generally keep 25%, even though they advertise no fee. ${BestWay} Walking is really the best way to see the sights and experience the culture. The public transportation system is clean and efficient and is run on the honor system. It's a great way to experience the outer limits of Prague...and a must to shop Wenceslas Square. No one ever asked to see our tickets during our entire stay!

U Tri Bubnu

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Webgoddess on August 2, 2005

This is a beautifully restored 15th-century residence right on Old Town Square, a perfect location in the middle of all the action. The hotel is directly across the street from the house where the famous Czech Franz Kafka once lived. The name translates to "The Three Drums."

Upon check-in, the staff was courteous, although there is NO valet service, and we reserved a suite on the top floor to take advantage of the views. If you do the same, I'd advise you to pack lightly.

Our attic suite (#14) was spacious, and the views were so incredible that we didn't mind the trek up 128 windy stairs with our luggage. Beware: if you are tall, you may want a room on a lower floor. The beautiful, original exposed beams are quite low. Doorways are also much lower than modern standards. I guess people were much shorter in Mozart's day!

Our room had three beds, a dining table and chairs, large wardrobe, chest of drawers, and TV. Our ensuite bath was private, although one floor down, along with a luggage room. The beds are quite comfortable, with plump down comforters and several down pillows.

Breakfast, which is included in the price of a room, is cold and minimal, consisting of a few cheeses, potted meat, yogurt, cereal, fruit, milk, toast, and coffee. The breakfast room is small and intimate; we met many interesting fellow travellers over morning coffee. There is a Brazilian restaurant in the hotel that specializes in grilled meats.

The staff is very friendly and courteous. The location is perfect, and the views are superb. I would definitely stay there again.

U Tri Bubnu (The Three Drums)
U Radnice No.10, Old Town (Stare Mesto)
Prague, Czech Republic, 1

King Solomon Restaurant

Member Rating 1 out of 5 by Webgoddess on July 12, 2005

While I must admire its existence, I do not recommend this restaurant for people of limited budgets. Lunch can easily exceed $60 per person, and the food is ordinary and the portions small.

It is a tourist restaurant and caters to those with huge budgets who happen to stumble upon the place on their way between synogogues in Josefov. Jewish expats with tight budgets can order kosher meals from the Jewish Community Center located on Maislova Street.

King Solomon
Siroka, 8
Prague, Czech Republic, 110 00
+420 2 2481 8752

Le Saint-Jacques

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Webgoddess on July 28, 2005

Le Saint-Jacques is an elegant and intimate, family-run French restaurant with candlelit tables and pleasant service. The owner himself waited on us throughout the evening.

They offer excellent French cuisine prepared using the flavours and scents of the french farm house kitchen, fresh seafood, and excellent wine. Menu items include Coquilles Saint-Jacques à la Provençale, Escargot, various pates, fresh sole meunière, filet Mignon, Châteaubriand, and fresh oysters. There is a single vegetarian entrée on the menu, although there are plenty of salads and side dishes available.

Desserts include a wonderful variation on American apple pie, Tartin tatin, as well as crème brulee and chocolate mousse.

There is a lively piano bar and violin every night, which keeps the drunken bypassers wandering between the bars on either side reasonably amused. Many a passerby wandered in through the doorway to hear their favorite song. The violinist has a voice like Tony Bennett, and the duo knows more than 3000 songs, including many American tunes. They invited me up to sing a tune with them. It was great fun!

The restaurant is located on a narrow cobblestone street between the Old Town Square and the Charles Bridge and is open until 2am for a late-night supper on weekends.
Reservations are highly recommended.

Dinner with dessert will cost from $30 to $50, plus wine. Dessert and cappuccino is about $12.

Website: http://www.saint-jacques.cz

Le Saint-Jacques
Praha 1, Jakubská 4
Prague, Czech Republic
+420 2 2322685

St. Vitus Cathedral

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Webgoddess on July 12, 2005

St. Vitus's Cathedral is the largest and the most important church in Prague. The remains of provincial patron saints, sovereigns, noblemen, and archbishops are interred here.

Visitors enter the cathedral through the portal in the western facade, opposite the passageway between the Second and Third Courtyards of Prague Castle.

Its bronze door is decorated with reliefs with scenes from the history of the cathedral and from the legends about St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert.

The neo-Gothic part of the cathedral consists of the main nave and the narrow side aisles, lined with chapels, and the northern wing of the transverse nave. The cathedral is probably on the must-see list of every visitor to Prague. You can rent a radio guide that tells you all about the things you are seeing. This is very interesting, but incredibly detailed - in the end, we preferred to use our guidebook for snippets of information and just absorb the surroundings. Also, the guide is time-limited, so you may find yourself racing across the castle grounds to return it before the deadline!

St. Vitus Cathedral
Prague Castle
Prague, Czech Republic, 11908
+420 2 2437 3368

Prague Castle

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Webgoddess on July 12, 2005

On the basis of archeological research and the oldest written sources, it is thought that Prague Castle was founded around the year 880 by Prince Borivoj of the house of Premyslides.

The early medieval castle site was fortified with a moat and a rampart of clay and stones. The first walled building was the church of Our Lady. Other churches dedicated to St. George and St. Vitus were founded in the first half of the 10th century.

From the 10th century, Prague Castle was not only the seat of the head of state, princes, and later, kings, but also of the highest representative of church, the Prague bishop. The first convent in Bohemia was also founded in the grounds of Prague Castle, a convent next to the church of St. George for the order of Benedictine nuns.

Monuments accessible with a ticket
The Old Royal Palace, the St. Vitus' Cathedral - the historical part (the choir, crypt, and tower), the basilica of St. George, the Mihulka ramparts, and the Golden Lane are part of sightseeing tour of the Prague Castle.

The most of the monuments are accessible for wheelchairs (St. Vitus Cathedral (the main entrance), Old Royal Palace (Vladislav Hall), St. George Basilica, Prague Castle Gallery, Royal Summer Palace, Ball-game Hall, Imperial Stables, Spanish Hall, Rudolph's Gallery from the Broad Corridor, the Gardens of the Prague Castle, and the WC near St. Vitus Cathedral).

The Old Royal Palace was, up until the 16th century, the seat of Bohemian princes and kings. The palace contains the monumental Vladislav Hall, in a late Gothic style (place of the election of the President of the Czech Republic now), and All Saints’ Church.

Prague Castle (Hradcany Castle)
Castle District, Hradcany
Prague, Czech Republic, 119 08
420 2 2437 3368

Charles Bridge

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Webgoddess on July 12, 2005

Charles Bridge is a stone Gothic bridge that connects the Old Town and Mala Strana. It was originally called the Stone Bridge and was created in the 1300s.

There are towers standing on each end of the bridge. Both the Staromstská vž on the Old Town end and the Malostranská vž on the Malá Strana end can be climbed for a view of Prague and the bridge from above. The views are spectacular!

There are statues lining both sides of the bridge. The most popular statue is probably the one of St. John of Nepomuk, a Czech martyr saint who was executed during the reign of Wenceslas IV by being thrown into the Vltava River from the bridge. The plaque on the statue has been polished to a shine by countless people who have touched it over the centuries. Touching the statue is supposed to bring good luck and ensure your return to Prague. But you must touch the statue with your left hand, according to the locals. I know I'll be back, and I'm not even superstitious.

The bridge is as popular with tourists as it is with Czech artists, musicians and souvenir vendors whose stands line both sides of the bridge year-round. Unfortunately, it is also popular with pickpockets. Hold on to your purse and be wary of keeping your wallet in your back pocket.

A great time of day to come to the bridge is at sunset when one can enjoy a breathtaking view of the fully lit Prague Castle against the evening sky. The street musicians are in full swing, although the vendors have closed down for the evening.

The bridge is now a pedestrian zone and is almost constantly filled with people. If you want to have it all to yourself, get there very late at night or very early in the morning.

Charles Bridge
Karluv Most
Prague, Czech Republic, 110 00

Marquis de Sade

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Webgoddess on July 12, 2005

Don't be afraid of the name--the kinkiest thing here are the red velvet sofas and the ceiling. The Marquis de Sade stands apart from other Czech watering holes because of its huge room with high ornate ceilings that belie the casual wooden furniture and kitschy wall hangings. Beer is cheap, the volume is loud, and it's so well located that you can easily stumble home. The Marquis De Sade is a good place to order a shot of absinthe or Prague-brewed Staropramen. Absinthe, or the green fairy is one of the allures of this place. Illegal in the US and most other European countries, it can be found here and in many other bars throughout Prague. Some of its more infamous drinkers such as Van Gogh and Hemingway Have credited Absynthe with helping them reach high levels of creativity and brilliance. There have been many reports of green fairies appearing to those who partake.

Take heed, though; if you do try it, I suggest arranging a designated driver - even if you are walking back to your hotel.

They've often got live music on weekends, and when you get booted at closing time, they'll kindly give you a plastic cup in which to take the rest of your beer.

Marquis de Sade
Templova, 8
Prague, Czech Republic, 110 00
+420 2 2481 7505

Church of St. Nicholas (Chrám sv. Mikuláse)

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Webgoddess on July 12, 2005

Situated in Lesser Town is St. Nicholas Church, whose robust dome and thin bell-tower are an inseparable part of the Prague Castle skyline; it is one of the most sought after Prague churches.

This church is one of the best examples of high baroque north of the Alps. However, K. I. Dienzenhofer's 1711 design didn't have the massive dome that now dominates the Lesser Town skyline below Prague Castle.

Dienzenhofer's son, Krystof, added the 78m (260-ft.) high dome during additional work completed in 1752.

The interior of the Church is dramatic. The primary nave with its side chapels connects onto the presbytery with its giant dome carried by two robust arches. A platform is placed above the chapels and illusive frescos are painted onto its individual vaults. Large side windows bring light into the interior and help to create an overall impression.

Rare materials decorated with gilding and rich linings of artificial marble, which is also used in the original paving, which has been preserved in the entire Church, most probably date back to 1760. A giant statue of the church's namesake looks down from the high altar.

Mozart played the organ here during his stay in Prague. Also, in the movie Van Helsing, it is where dracula held the masquerade ball.

Classical music concerts are performed daily, and ticket prices are reasonable (concerts are usually held at 5pm).

St. Nicholas Church Lesser Town
Malostranske Namesti
Prague, Czech Republic, 110 00

Stare Mesto Market (Old Town Market)

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Webgoddess on July 14, 2005

In Prague’s Old Town is one of Europe’s most beautiful town squares. It is a pedestrian area, which makes it very pleasant to stroll through or enjoy a coffee from one of the popular cafés surrounding the square.

It is also the site for the city’s main market place, which definitely adds to the atmosphere of Prague. Enjoy browsing among the wooden stalls searching for that bargain or memento to bring home with you.

Essentially a touristy market, it has more than its fair share of idiosyncratic souvenirs, more so on weekends. Some hark back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire - it's not every day that you can buy a suit of armour from the days of old. As well as the bags, hats, and general paraphernalia, there is a section entirely dedicated to roots and fruits.

Prague's Old Town is bounded on two sides by the Vltava, turning sharply eastwards. The Old Town Square, Staromestké námestí, is just south of Josefov (the Old Jewish Quarter), where of the streets around have been pedestrianised. The nearest Metro stop is Mustek (line A or B).

Although there isn't a great deal of choice, it's cheap and prices remain the same throughout all of the wooden stalls.

Old Town Historic Center of Prague
Staromestske Namesti
Prague, Czech Republic, 110 00

Lesser Town

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Webgoddess on August 1, 2005

This part of town is known as Lesser Town not because it is any less beautiful or significant than the other areas of the city. In fact, it is one of the most picturesque. The name comes from the fact that this was the smaller section of Prague than the Old Town across the river. Lesser Town is where the royalty and nobles lived.

The many sights here will take your breath away. Imagine a medieval village almost 1,000 years old that looks as if Disney built it yesterday. There are baroque buildings bearing various family crests, red roofs abound, and the surroundings are quaint and bustling with activity. You can imagine the day-to-day activities that were part of living here for hundreds of years. There are many narrow cobblestone pathways to follow off the main streets, and who knows what you'll find when you turn the corner?

By following one such path on our way through the streets of Lesser Town on our way up the hill to the castle, we stumbled upon a charming courtyard bistro, where we stopped for an unconventional snack of ice cream and wine. It tasted much better than it sounds! The Czechs really enjoy their ice cream, and I know why firsthand.

While you can take the tram or the funicular up the hill to the castle, you won't want to miss the experience of wandering through this quaint, picturesque section of Prague. It's full of history, monuments, gothic churches, affordable restaurants and bistros, pubs, and shops where you can find almost anything your heart desires. There's a wonderful marionette shop here as well where all of the puppets are carved by hand.

Lesser Town Historic Center of Prague (Mala Strana)

Prague, Czech Republic

Staromestske Namesti

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Webgoddess on August 2, 2005

Walking through the Old Town Square in Prague is like taking a journey back in time 600 or 700 years. Step into the square, and a feeling of the dramatic history of Prague permeates the atmosphere.

Staromestske Namesti (the Czech name for The Old Town Square) is the heart of Prague's famous Old Town and, to me, is one of the most beautiful historical sights in Europe.

Dating back to the late 12th century, the Old Town Square started its life as the main marketplace for Prague. Over the next few centuries, many buildings of varying styles, including Romanesque, baroque, and Gothic, were erected around the market. Nowhere else can you see such diverse architecture spanning centuries all in one glance!

Today, there are vendors in the early morning at wooden stalls around the perimeter of the square, selling their wares. You can purchase anything from a pashmina or fruits and vegetables to local handmade crafts, as well as the tacky mass-produced souvenirs available in all the tourist areas.

One of the most popular sights here is the Astronomical Clock. It contains figures of apostles from 1410. Twelve apostles appear every hour between 9am and 9pm, where huge crowds gather to watch. It's really a sight worth seeing.

The beautiful Saint Nicholas Church is also located here, and classical music concerts are performed inside daily.

On our first evening in Prague, we were surprised to first hear and then see more than 100,000 people crowded into the square. When we felt brave enough to venture out of our room, we discovered the crowd watching a hockey game on a huge flat screen and cheering voraciously. The Czechs had just beat the Canadians! It was cause for celebration throughout the city that night and the next. The Town Square has been the site of many such gatherings throughout Prague's history, although I doubt any were as joyful as this one.

You may want to wander down one of the many narrow cobblestone alleyways to see what adventure awaits around the next corner. Who knows what you'll find? One thing I can assure you is that wherever you look, it will take your breath away, and the city will entrance you, as it did me.

Staromestske Namesti
Old Town Square
Prague, Czech Republic

St. George’s Basilica

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Webgoddess on August 3, 2005

Saint George`s Basilica is part of the huge Prague castle complex, and admission is included in the price of the castle tour.

More than 1,000 years old, it was founded in about 920 AD by Prince Vratislav I and was enlarged in 973 AD, when the adjoining St. Georges Convent was established.

The basilica displays a unique mix of architectural styles. The present Romanesque appearance is from 1142 AD, when the basilica was rebuilt following a fire that almost completely destroyed the original structure. The Romanesque interior of the basilica is extremely austere and monumental. The baroque exterior (now painted red) is in stark contrast and was done at a much later time in its history.

It's difficult to imagine that this basilica is as old as it is; it's so wonderfully preserved and pristine. Almost everywhere you look you'll find statues, carvings, and frescoes of Saint George slaying the dragon.

In the Gothic Chapel of St. Ludmila, there is the tomb of the saint, widow of the 9th-century ruler Prince Borivoj. Also buried in the basilica are two princes, Prince Vratislav and Boleslav II.

St. George's Basilica now serves as a concert hall, and I found it to be a delightful setting for an early evening classical concert. I enjoyed an evening of Mozart following my afternoon tour of the castle district.

Book tickets for St. George's Basilica concerts at http://www.pragueexperience.com/opera_concerts/opera_concerts.asp.

St. George's Basilica
Jirske namesti, 33
Prague, Czech Republic, 119 08

Golden Lane

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Webgoddess on August 3, 2005

The Golden Lane, which was also known as Goldsmith's Lane, is a great curiosity at the Prague Castle. The dwelling’s miniature size is in sharp contrast to the grandeur of the other castle buildings. The attached dwellings are narrow, shallow, and much smaller than the bathrooms most of us enjoy in our present homes. It is a reminder of the time when the castle was a closed city.

The narrow street is lined with colorful miniature houses that were originally occupied by the castle servants. The name suggests that many of these may have been goldsmiths. Some were also castle guards.

By the 1800s, the lane had become home to various artists and craftsmen, who worked in the tiny shops downstairs and lived often in a small single room upstairs. When the Communists took over, they evicted all of the inhabitants and turned the lane into a souvenir street for tourists.

During the 20th century, several notable people occupied Golden Lane. Among them was the writer Franz Kafka, who lived here from 1916 to 1917 in house no. 22.

Today, small tourist shops still occupy most of the dwellings. Running along the roofs above the shops is a gallery containing an exhibition of armour, torture devices, and period costumes.

You may have to duck to enter most of these dwellings - were people really that much shorter over 100 years ago?

Golden Lane
Prague Castle
Prague, Czech Republic, 119 08
+420 2 2430 3368


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