Dobrý den, Praho! Visiting “The Golden City of 100 Spires”
Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic — nicknamed the “City of a Hundred Spires” — is known for the culture, history, colorful baroque buildings, Gothic churches and medieval Astronomical Clock located in its Old Town Square. The Czech Republic has been deemed as the “heart of central Europe”, with Prague’s historic centre being on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.
Whether it is your first time in Central Eastern Europe, or if you’ve been to Prague a few times before - you are sure to discover something new or places to see that you missed before. I’ve lived in Prague for about 8 years (with a one year gap between 2013-2014) and I have to admit that although Prague is small compared to other capitals in the region, i.e. Vienna and Budapest - I still come across hidden gems around the city.
So what can you see in Prague? Below are main sites, some of which are my favourite - that shouldn’t be missed.
9th century castle located in Hradčany overlooking Malá Strana (“Lesser Town”) and deemed the most historical part of the city. The office of the President of the Czech Republic is in the Prague Castle complex along with:
Old Royal Palace - Czech National Day celebrations take place in Vladislav Hall
St. Vitus Cathedral - the largest and most important church in the country, a prominent Gothic architecture. Apart from religious services, coronations of Czech kings and queens took place here. The cathedral also contains tombs of patron saints, sovereigns, and noblemen.
The Golden Lane - serves as a last reminder of the small-scale architecture of Prague Castle. The complex includes St. George’s Basilica, Rosenberg Palace, and Picture Gallery.
Food tip: Kuchyň, Hradčanské nám. 186/1, 118 00 Praha 1-Hradčany
Located across Prague castle’s main entrance, in the Salm Palace, Kuchyň offers Czech dishes inspired by recipes from old cookbooks. Good food, a beautiful view of the city’s red rooftops from the terrace and a well-poured beer in hand is highly recommended.
Strahov Monastery Library
Founded in the 12th century and ranks among the oldest monasteries in the Czech Republic. This impressive Baroque library is in the monastery grounds, close to Prague Castle and Petřín Hill, and said to be one of the most beautiful historical libraries in the world.
Malá Strana - “Lesser Town”
Make your way down from the castle to Malá Strana to find hidden streets, ancient churches and cultural sites.
Church of Our Lady Victorious - Known as the Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague, home of the famous Child Jesus of Prague who is very close to Filipinos' hearts
Wallenstein Garden - A 17th century garden surrounding the Wallenstein palace, home of the Czech Republic Senate and hundreds of unique sculptures, fountains and magnificent peacocks wandering around at their pleasure.
Walk by the river and feed swans, just below Mánesův Most (Mánes Bridge) and snap picturesque views of Charles Bridge below.
Stroll along Vltava river and stumble across the narrowest street of Prague – a mere 50 cm (1.6 ft ) so narrow that traffic lights were installed to stop people from colliding as they walk down.
Charles Bridge - Prague’s 15th century and oldest bridge that crosses the Vltava River, most important connection between Old Town and adjacent areas. Thirty statues of saints decorate the bridge, the most famous of which is St. John of Nepomuk. Be sure to go up the Lesser Town Bridge Tower (or the Old Town Bridge tower on the opposite end) for magnificent city views.
P-noy Taste of Asia, Karmelitská 380/16, 118 00 Malá Strana: The first Filipino store in Czech Republic opened in July 2012, providing products from the Philippines and Asian countries. Located a few steps from the Church of our Lady Victorious, locals and tourists may enjoy refreshments and warm snacks. P-noy is ‘home away from home’ for Filipinos who miss Philippine products not available in local supermarkets.
Lokál U Bílé kuželky, Míšeňská 12, 110 00 Malá Strana: This lively pub is located a few steps away from Charles Bridge, known for its pilsner and traditional Czech cuisine. Be sure to try their fried cheese and “tatarak” (tartar beef).
Make your way from Charles Bridge to the core of the Prague’s historical center — Old Town Square. Drawing the greatest number of visitors, it features preserved buildings and monuments: The Church of Our Lady of Tyn, Old Town City Hall, and the Baroque Church of St. Nicholas. The Town City Hall houses the Astronomical Clock, third oldest astronomical clock in the world and still operating after restoration in 2018. For a bird’s eye view of the Square, head up to the top of the Old Town City Hall.
Clementinum (Klementinum) - Originally a Jesuit dormitory and one of the largest building complexes in Europe. Check out the Baroque Library with beautiful frescoes and globes.
Municipal House - Located on Náměstí Republiky (Republic Square) next to Powder Tower, city centre. An Art Nouveau gem of Prague, it houses a large concert hall catering to events and balls. Discover a café in the left wing of the Municipal House, and an Art-Nouveau French Restaurant on the right.
Restaurace Mlejnice, Kožná 488, 110 00 Staré Město / Žatecká 17, 110 00 Josefov: Rustic and cozy atmosphere to that of a mill, the restaurant is in the vicinity of Old Town Square. Apart from legendary Czech Pilsner, try the Velkopopovický Kozel dark beer.
Restaurace Mincovna, Staroměstské nám. 1/7, 110 00 Staré Město: Situated in Old Town Square serving traditional Czech cuisine in a modern presentation. The name of the restaurant “Mincovna” refers to the history of the building where coins were minted between 18th-19th centuries.
I can go on and on about Prague, but highly recommend that you come and see it personally. A weekend is certainly not enough, as there are many other places to see around (and outside of) Prague. As they say, whenever you walk the streets of the city, don’t forget to look up and admire the beautiful architecture and history the city has to offer…See you in Prague!