Family Travel in Prague, Czech Republic
Prague, Czech Republic – Sites to See
by Greta Jenkins
Prague is a crown jewel of Eastern Europe, the largest existing Medieval old town with narrow streets mixed with a modern flair. It is the home of Cubist art; and powerful princes who chose the Holy Roman Emperor.
Since the city was untouched in both World War I and II, the architecture is exquisite. Prague is all about architecture, art, and music.As you drive into the city from the airport, the view of the Vltava river and wonderful architecture provides a warm welcome.
The people of Prague are friendly and happy, and say their freedom is the most important thing to them. Czech is a difficult language, with some similarity to German and the Slavic languages.
We found that most hotel and restaurant staff spoke English and were very helpful. Our hotel, The Central Hotel (near Namesti Republiky), was formerly a theatre and had been recently updated and decorated in its original style. There was a glass elevator set between circling staircases. It had Internet access, and a lobby bar.
The view from our window was a 17th century building decorated with Italian statues! Old Town Prague is a walking city, either on your own or by arranged tour. There are tour booths in the Old Town Area. Few cars travel the narrow cobblestone streets, although you can a rent a private car tour in an old-fashioned Czech automobile.
Taxis are unmonitored and expensive. Most tourists wander the cobblestone streets, visiting the many shops selling world famous glass and crystal products, marionettes, linens, art, and more. Be sure to bring comfortable, sturdy walking shoes—cobblestone is very tough on the feet!
Start your walk at Namesti Republiky by the Powder Gate (Prasná brána). The 65 meter tall Powder Tower was begun in 1475 during the reign of King Vladislav II Jagiello to form one of 13 entrances to the Old Town.
The Municipal House (Obecní dùm) is just to the north of the Powder Tower and is now a theatre, built on the site of the royal court between 1906 and 1912. It is Prague’s most prominent Art Nouveau building. Walk through the Powder Gate onto Celetná Street (Celetná ulice) and look for the museum shop.
Above it there is a wonderful three floor Cubism museum. Prague was the home to the original cubist movement and the “Group of Eight” cubist artists.
Continue walking down Celetná Street street until you reach Old Town Square, an area with restaurants, shops, and a medieval astronomical clock. The clock rings on the hour with moving statues of Saints and a rooster crowing. A must see in Prague!
The Old Town Building was erected in 1338. The Square has street entertainment throughout the day and night and is great place to people-watch while sipping a great Czech beer at a street cafe. The Franz Kafka Museum is located on the Old Town Square.
Enjoy wandering the narrow streets near the square. You will find small local restaurants, ice cream shops, and wonderful architecture!
Churches offer concerts and opera—vendors pass out flyers announcing locations and times. One can listen to the Prague Symphony Orchestra in St. George’s Church, built in the year 800 for about $20/person.
Or attend the state opera, Mozart concerts (he lived in Prague for short time), or a variety of theatre events).
The National Marionette Theatre featured the Don Giovanni opera when we were in Prague. The puppets were traditional and the puppeteers skilled. It was an evening to remember.
We also attended an organ concert at St. Giles Church, which included violin and voice.
Prague is a city of music, talent, and fun. Continue walking down to the Charles River Bridge, and head across it for a beautiful view of the Vltva river.
The bridge has been the home to street vendors since the 12th century. If you go at sunset, you can watch the sun disappear behind the Hradcany, the castle on top of the hill.
Walk through the Josefov area on the other side of the bridge. It was the Jewish Ghetto area in World War II. Now it is an area of many small interesting shops and restaurants.
The Hradcany Castle overlooks the city from a hill, high above the city. The Hradcany is open during the day for tours of the Old Royal Palace and Picture Gallery of Prague Castle.
Built in the 9th century by Prince Boøivoj, many rulers made their own additions so there is a mixture of styles.
Prague Castle has had four major reconstructions. Learn more about the castle here .
The St Vitus Cathedral is located on the castle grounds and is open to the public free, except during Mass.
Take a tram up to castle and then walk down for breathtaking views of the entire city. Buy tickets for the subway system, trams, and buses at any Metro station, or at a news stand. This is a very economical form of transportation and a great way to see the city.
The Metro is clean and safe. Metro maps and signs make getting around easy even if you can’t read Czech.Stop by the toy museum on your way down the hill and take pictures of the city from the ramparts.
Stop at Campa Park, watch the river boats go by, and have lunch or a snack at one of the riverside restaurants. River boat cruises leave the Campa Park and Charles Bridge area regularly throughout the day and evening.
Visit the Infant Jesus of Prague at the museum and Church of Maria and St. Antony of Padua in the Mala Strana district on the same side of the river as the castle. The statue is linked to the Baroque period. Many miracles are attributed to the statue. Read more about the Infant Jesus of Prague here
The museum of modern art Veletr ní palác is a delight, with a large collection of Impressionist and Cubism paintings. Artists such as Monet, Picasso, and Obrasky— and many more are featured. The permanent exhibition of 19th, 20th and 21st century art is on three floors of Veletr ní palác.
There are numerous models of famous Prague buildings in the museum. Prague has had competitions for best design for centuries.Restaurant and food: Czech bakeries offer delicious pasties and breads.
The local cusine is often different Western European cuisine but there are a few jewels, such as the The Needle Restaurant, on Hybernska St. off Namesti Republiky. Their specialty is beef, turkey, fish and vegetables on skewers, with au gratin potatoes, served in the same manner for centuries— they were delicious.