Our European dream took us to Prague, after Berlin. I have always been fascinated by Prague, thanks to Books and James Bond and Mission Impossible films. The cobbled streets, the medieval architecture and so many other things had made me want to go to ‘Praha’. There are a lot of reasons why a travel enthusiast should visit Prague in Czech Republic. Taking a lowdown on some of the top things which make this city irresistible for a traveler at heart.
I am at a loss of words as I attempt to describe the Prague Castle. If there was ever a place, which was perhaps visualized while writing Rapunzel or Rumpelstiltskin, I am pretty sure it was something like that. Right from the moment you enter the grounds of the castle to the time you exit, you are engulfed in splendor, beauty and architectural brilliance. A beautiful garden welcomes you as you enter the grounds. The castle can be seen towering magnificently above the city from a distance. The castle is imposing with guards and all and it still serves as offices for some of the government officials and the royals. The medieval architecture, especially of the church within the castle premises is simply astounding- whether it is the gargoyles atop the spires or the magnificent neo gothic and gothic arches and the glass paintings inside. You cannot miss the 18th century dwellings of those who lived there. These have been preserved as they were for most part in that era. Descending from the castle, you get a panoramic, breathtaking view of the city. That’s the moment where the fairy tale element comes into the picture.
The Medieval, Old World Charm
Prague exudes that irresistible, medieval, old-world charm. A walk through the old town square and you are completely transported back in the 17th or 18 the century. Cobbled streets, Gothic and Roman architecture reflected through a window of a building, town hall or the city hall – all these add to the character of the city. At the same time, there are streets which boast of stores of some of the best fashion and lifestyle brands. So it is an eclectic blend of the unabashedly modern and gracefully vintage.
The Astronomical Clock
You talk about Prague and one of the first few things which are a must watch is the astronomical clock. Called as the Prague Orloj, it is a medieval astronomical clock mounted on the southern wall of the old town square. The three main components of this clock are – the astronomical dial, representing the position of the Sun and Moon in the sky and displaying various astronomical details; statues of various Catholic saints stand on either side of the clock; “The Walk of the Apostles”, a clockwork hourly show of figures of the Apostles and other moving sculptures—notably a figure of Death (represented by a skeleton) striking the time and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months. It is interesting to know that oldest part of the clock dates back to 1410! So this clock a must watch – but hey, you can wait till October 2018, since it is undergoing a reconstruction as of now!
For the Bookworms
The Municipal Library of Prague is another reason to visit Prague, especially those with undying love for books. Established in 1891, the oldest item in the library’s collections is a print of the Prague Bible from 1488. The best feature of the library is that in the foyer of the main building, you can see the unique tower of books, an installation piece by Slovak artist Matej Kren. So all the bookworms reading this, add this to your list of places to visit in the lovely city.
The Bridge – Between The Old & The New
As you descend the Prague Castle and start walking towards the city, you will get to the Charles Bridge. It is a historic bridge on the Vltava river. Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished in the beginning of the 15th century. This bridge was originally called Stone Bridge or Prague Bridge but has been called “Charles Bridge” since 1870. As you walk through it, you will find locks on the railings on the side of the bridge put there by couples. On both sides of the bridge you would see beautiful sculptures of kings and priests and the likes. From cartoonists to musicians, a whole bunch of artists are there, showcasing their art. To add to all this, you get stunning views of the city passing through the bridge.
The people are extremely friendly and hospitable. Some of them even knew a bit of Hindi, we were astonished to know. You can enter any shop and you are sure to be greeted warmly. We stepped into an ice cream shop one afternoon and we had a fantastic time. The lady at the counter was very welcoming and was greeting everyone with a smile and a thank you and quickly helped us with our orders.
All this notwithstanding, Prague is a haven for those who love trying dishes involving pork. Not to forget the local Czech beer. It is a must for the connoisseurs! It’s worth a swig than me describing it here!
So when you visit this city, one of the favorite places witnessing James Bond’s exploits, you know what to look for.