Czech Republic

visit to prague

Prague Castle and Royal Grounds

During our first full day in Prague, Czech Republic, we went to the Prague Castle and Royal Grounds. Our hotel provided direct access to the castle, and we were able to take in some nice views of the city that we might have otherwise missed.

Exploring Prague Castle

Prague castle is the biggest castle complex in the world. It was founded in the year 880 and took almost 700 years to complete. It is now the seat of the Czech government. Without delay, we bought tickets for the long route, which included the Old Royal Palace, the Story of Prague Castle exhibit, the Basilica of St. George, St. Vitus Cathedral, the Convent of St. George, the Prague Castle Picture Gallery, and Golden Lane with Daliborka Tower.

We entered the grounds in the third courtyard, where St. Vitus Cathedral dominates the square. When we came up those stairs, we had never seen anything quite like it; I think it might be one of my favorite buildings so far. The cathedral looks as if there had been numerous candles that had dripped wax on it, with rose and gold colored glass and frescoes. Furthermore, the cathedral is visible from many places in Prague, making a key part of its skyline.

The Old Royal Palace sits next to St. Vitus Cathedral. It dates back to the 10th century and has been home to many princes and kings. Every president of the republic has been sworn in there.

Vladislav Hall in the Royal Palace

We then walked to St. George’s Basilica. It has a simple design that separates itself from other churches in Prague. Inside, it holds the tombs of Prince Boleslav II and Prince Vratislav I from the 10th century. Next to the basilica is the National Gallery (which used to be a convent) and showcases many Gothic art pieces.

Other pictures of our walk through the palace grounds include:

Strolling through Prague’s Royal Garden to our Hotel

On our last day we spent some time in the Royal Garden. It used to be an area where the king and his family would relax, play games, and raise exotic plants. There are some pieces of architecture in the garden that are inspired by Italian influences.

Since our hotel provided direct access to the Prague Castle and royal grounds, we were able to go straight back to the hotel without having to make our way through the crowds (though the gardens were pretty empty).

Our hotel was beautifully situated in a quiet location away from the hustle and bustle. They presented us with a different dessert each night, as well as a cheese plate and a bottle of wine when we first arrived. They definitely spoiled us at our hotel during our time in Prague. We also ate very well, trying the traditional Czech cuisine of meats, goulash, and potatoes.

All in all, we had a fantastic time in Prague and wish we could have stayed longer. We know that we will definitely return to this beautiful city and experience parts of Prague that we didn’t get to see. Perhaps in the winter? 

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prague

A Walk through Prague’s History

Oh Prague… how we love thee! Prague, Czech Republic has to be one of the most beautiful cities we’ve ever seen. It is definitely included in our top five places in Europe. The city boasts an assortment of remarkable architecture, ranging from Renaissance, Gothic, and baroque, to neoclassical, cubism, and art nouveau. Looking out over the city we noticed that many spires dot the city in what seem to go on forever. All of these magnificent buildings tell the history of Prague throughout the centuries and made an imprint on us as we visited. Of all the places we visited, the Charles Bridge, Old Town Square, and the Jewish Quarter in Prague topped the list.

Charles Bridge & Old Town Square

We walked our way across Prague’s famous Charles Bridge. It is a very touristy and crowded spot, and from what I’ve heard, it’s like that year round. As we made our way across the bridge, dodging other tourists trying to get their pictures and presents from vendors, we took notice of the different statues that line the unique bridge.

Next, we made our way to the Old Town Square where we saw the 500 year old Astronomical Clock and the rest of the Old Town. Men were playing accordions, and women were singing opera making the streets sound very lively.

The Jewish Quarter in Prague, Czech Republic

During our second day in Prague, we spent time in the Jewish Quarter and so we’ve termed it our “Jewish Day.” The Jewish Quarter consists of many historic and preserved Jewish buildings and synagogues. This includes the Prague Jewish Museum, whose collection only exists because the Nazis gathered objects from 153 Jewish communities in Bohemia and Moravia in order to plan a “museum of an extinct race.”

We weren’t allowed to take pictures in any of the synagogues, except for one. And we saw so many synagogues! We started with the Pinkas Synagogue. This is now a memorial to the Holocaust with the names of 77,297 Czech Jews inscribed on its walls.

Next to this synagogue is the Old Jewish Cemetery, which holds 12,000 visible tombstones with as many as 100,000 people buried there (12 layers deep!) dating back to 1439. The cemetery is full to the brim with tombstones, with some right on top of each other, showing partially erased Hebrew inscriptions.

We ended up seeing so many more synagogues within the Jewish Quarter of Prague. The Old New Synagogue is the oldest still-functioning synagogue in Europe, dating back to 1270. We saw the Klaus Synagogue, which contains many items pertaining to the everyday life and customs of Jews. Similarly, the Maisel Synagogue exhibits old Jewish items. Finally, the Spanish Synagogue, which was built in 1868, is very ornate with old Moorish architecture. We’ve never seen a synagogue with decor quite like this one and spent a lot of time gazing up at the intricacies and detail. 

Old New Synagogue

Our last stop was the Jerusalem Synagogue, built in 1906, and also known as the Jubilee Synagogue. While this isn’t located within the Jewish Quarter, we’re glad that we spent the extra time finding it. Sandwiched between two buildings, the synagogue is very unique with Moorish influences and a variety of patterns and colors.

John Lennon Wall

At this point, we decided to leave our Jewish self-guided tour and head back over the Charles Bridge. Given that we had seen about six synagogues, I think we were done! To end our stay in Prague, we went to the John Lennon wall.

After his murder, Lennon became a pacifist hero for many Czechs. Subsequently, the Czechs painted an image of him on this wall along with Beatles lyrics and political graffiti. Even though the police tried to paint over the wall numerous times, it became a focus for the youth of Prague who weren’t allowed to listen to Western pop music.

Later, after the fall of communism in the country in 1989, visiting tourists began to make their own contributions. It was only a few years ago that the city gave into the inevitable and “allowed” tourists and locals to leave their mark on the wall. Locals state that it never stays the same for long and you should leave your mark while you can. Naturally, we wrote a loving message from us on it.

All in all, we saw and did so much on our trip to Prague, Czech Republic that we found it impossible to put it all in one post. We really managed to pack a lot into four days! My next post will talk about the Prague Castle, cathedral, and gardens.  Stay tuned!

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