Prague is Europe's (and one of the world's) most popular tourist destinations. Prague was one of the few European cities relatively untouched during the World Wars, allowing its historic architecture to stay intact. There are lots of old buildings with beautiful murals on them. It also has a lively nightlife, mostly due to the extraordinary range of beers available at nominal prices. It contains one of the world's most pristine and varied collections of architecture, from Art Nouveau to Baroque, Renaissance, Cubist, Gothic, Neo-Classical and ultra-modern.
Below is a summary of the main attractions in Prague, starting from the Eastern Bank, crossing over the famous Charles Bridge on to the Western Bank, and finally beyond the city centre.
This is the oldest town in Prague that gained its privileges in the 13th Century. Initially the town was separated by walls which were eventually dismantled but they can still be traced by the way the streets are positioned. The Old town became the capital of the Holy Roman Empire when Charles IV transformed Prague into a medieval architectural city. In 1784, when Prague’s towns were united together into one city the Old Town hall became the headquarters of Government
Main attractions featured here:
The Old town Square: This is located in the heart of Staré Město and has been Prague’s most popular square since the 10th Century. The square is bombarded with crowds of people walking around or sitting in cafes enjoying the views. Sometimes concerts take place or live music is played to entertain visitors who can also admire the famous sculpture of Jan Hus.
Municipal House: In the early 1900’s this venue was built to replace the Royal Court that was demolished. The Municipal House was founded by artists who wanted to create a cultural centre. The interior decor is of architectural brilliance with mosaics and artistic sculptures, including an Art Nouveau glass top that covers Smetana Hall. This is Prague’s largest concert hall where music festivals are performed throughout the year. Furthermore, the Municipal House features the Lord Mayor’s Hall which also includes some amazing architectural designs.
Museum of Czech Cubism: This features three floors of Cubist designs, sculptures and paintings. It also comprises the famous Josef Gocar’s House of the Black Madonna which is Prague’s most superb model of Cubist architecture.
Museum of Decorative Arts: This was opened in 1900 and features four halls filled with collections of furniture, tapestries, porcelain and glasswork from the 16th – 19th century. The interior of the museum itself is beautifully decorated with stained glass windows. The Votive Hall features the impressive Karlstejn Treasure, and the glass and ceramics hall houses wonderful baroque glass ware with a fine collection of Meissen porcelain, including many more amazing pieces.
Josefov: Josefov or the Jewish quarter is the smallest cadastral area of Prague. Previously this town square was the Jewish ghetto of the town. Situated in between the Old town square and the Vltava river, Josefov represents itself by the flag of Prague’s Jewish community, a yellow Magen (star of David) on a red field. The main attraction of the square is the Jewish Museum, a valuable heritage for the present Czech Republic. The Museum has one of the finest and unique collections of Jewish art, textiles and silver in the world that evokes the Jewish history. The ticket to the Museum covers a guided visit to the Old Jewish Cemetery, Ceremonial Hall, Old-New Synagogue, Meisel Synagogue, Pinkas Synagogue, Spanish Synagogue and the Klausen Synagogue.
Astronomical Clock: This is is mounted on the Southern wall of the Old Town Hall in the Old Town Square and is one of the outstanding sights of Prague. The dial is poised with three main components: the astronomical dial that displays various astronomical details as well as representing the position of the Sun and Moon in the sky; "The Walk of the Apostles", showcases the movement of the figures of Twelve Apostles passing along the two windows in every hour of daylight; and a calendar dial that rotates and gives the description of each and every day of the year with an indication of the current date at the top, the medallions with zodiac signs describing every month and a symbol of the Old Town in the centre.
Many of the remaining buildings in the new town are from the 19th and early 20th centuries and here are some of Prague’s most legendary attractions. Most of the surrounding areas of this town were destroyed in 1875 but the original street arrangements have been preserved. This includes the three large market squares which were once the city’s commercial centre.
Main attractions in New Town:
Wenceslas Square: A centre of business and cultural activities in the New Town of Prague, Wenceslas Square is one of the main city squares. Named after Saint Wenceslas, the square is a traditional setting for demonstrations, celebrations and other events or gatherings. Visitors are surrounded by the nightlife and entertainment. With International shops being situated all around, the square has become Prague's main spot for shopping.
Lucerna Palace: Situated between Stepanska and Vodickova streets this complex consists of a handful of entertainment, including theatres, shops, a rock club, a cinema and restaurants. The Novak Arcade is also connected to the palace and is worth a look if you have time to spare.
Mucha Museum: This popular museum presents Alfons Mucha’s paintings, photos and ornamental panels. Mucha was known especially for representing artwork of Slavic maidens. A video documentary is also shown portraying Mucha’s success. This is definitely worth a visit as this man is known as one of Prague’s most respected artists.
National Theatre: This neo-Renaissance venue played an important role for the Czech National Revival. It is mainly used for ballet and opera performances and is known as one of Prague’s most fascinating buildings. The theatre is funded entirely by donations and the interior decor is provided by Czech artists.
National Museum: One of the biggest Museums in Prague, the National Museum is one of the main tourist attractions. Originated in 1818 in Prague by Kašpar Maria Šternberg, the museum has around 14 million items varying from natural history, arts and music. Entry to the Museum is free every first Monday of the month and the museum is closed every first Tuesday of the month.
Prague City Museum: This was built between 1896 and 1898 and exhibits artifacts dated back from prehistoric times to the 20th century. The main attraction here is Antonin Langweil’s impressive 1:480 scale model of Prague representing how the city was built up between 1826 and 1834 and you can spot some incredible changes if you have a good understanding of Prague.
Charles Bridge was founded in 1357 by Charles IV, and was built in order to replace Judith Bridge which was badly damaged by floods in 1342. The construction was started by Master Otto and finished by Peter Parler in 1402. Both ends of the bridge are fortified by towers (the Lesser Town Bridge Towers and the Old Town Bridge Tower). From 1683 to 1928 thirty sculptures and sculptural groups of the saints were gradually set on the bridge piers (M. Braun, F. M. Brokof, etc.) The bridge is 515 meters long and 10 meters wide.
Well-known as "Lesser Town" or "Lesser Quarter" or "Lesser Side", Malá Strana is one of Prague's oldest areas. Located on the west bank of the river Vltava, on the slopes lying just below the Prague Castle and on the opposite side to the big towns of Prague, Malá Strana connects itself to the town through the Charles Bridge. During the Middle ages, it was the main centre of the German citizens of Prague. Extremely pictorial, this place is a favourite spot for films and commercials.
In the middle of Malá Strana there is a baroque square, one can explore a lot out here. There are many small boutique shops, churches, restaurants and pubs and some are also located in the ancient cellars. The ancient cellars are located alongside the river with picturesque views and therefore pubs and restaurants generally attract more visitors here.
Main attractions in Lesser Town:
Lennon Wall: Previously, an ordinary wall in Prague, , the Lennon wall was named after John Lennon when he died in 1980 and was filled with John Lennon inspired graffiti and a few pieces of lyrics from the Beatles songs. John Lennon, a hero to the pacifist youth of the Eastern and Central Europe, was an English rock musician, song writer, artist, singer and a member of the group "Beatles". When communism ruled in 1989, in Prague, western pop was banned by the authorities and especially the songs of John Lennon, as it was praising freedom. Young Czechs used to write grievances on the wall and in due time this led to a clash between the students and the security police. Located in Malá Strana, the wall is owned by the Knights of Maltese Cross, who allowed the continuation of the graffiti. The wall continuously undergoes changes and the original painting of Lennon is lost under the layers of new paints, poems and more, and it has become a symbol of love and peace for the youths.
Hradčany & Hradčany Square: This became a town in 1320 and suffered a lot of damage due to the Hussite wars and the Great Fire. It eventually became a borough of Prague in 1598 and Hradcany Square has stayed practically the same since the Middle Ages. The Square is not only next to the fascinating Prague Castle but is also surrounded by many attractive and famous palaces. Whilst visiting Hradcany you should also check out the Archbishop’s Palace, Schwarzenberg Palace, and Sternberg Palace. Loreta Square is also nearby Hradcany Square where Bohemia’s oldest working monastery can be viewed.
Prague Castle: Prague Castle is the biggest ancient castle in the world, being 570 meters in length and about 130 metres wide and was erected in the 9th century. It was replaced by a Romanesque palace in the 12th century and then in the 14th century was rebuilt in the Gothic style under the ruling of Charles IV. At the end of 15th century, a reconstruction of the palace took place under the Jagellons, the Vladislav Hall was further added by Benedikt Rejt. The Castle had to undergo further works in the 16th century. Today it serves as the historical and political centre for the city and the state, and it is also the place of the President of the Czech Republic. For the visitors, Prague Castle is a "must see". The Saint Vitus Cathedral, the Monastery, Golden Lane, St. George's Basilica and several other places along with the viewing towers and art galaries can be discovered by taking a walking tour of the Prague Castle.
A cadastral district in Prague, Vinohardy gets its name from the area being covered by vineyards in the 14th century. From 1867 to 1968 it was called as Královské Vinohrady ("Royal Vineyards") and it became a part of Prague in 1922. In 1949, the then-ruling communists split Vinohardy into municipal districts located in the municipal and administrative districts of Prague 2, Prague 3 and Prague 10, because it was called as the "bourgeois" district, thereby being politically unreliable. Havlíčkovy Sady is one of the tourist attractions of the district and is Prague's second largest park. There is a Gröbovka Park, next to Havlíčkovy Sady, where a productive vineyard is in operation.
Address: Na Bojisti 12-14, Vinohrady, Prague 2
Vyšehrad, also called "Castle on the heights", located on a hill over the Vltava river, is a beautiful place to visit any time. In 1883, Vyšehrad and the area surrounding Vyšehrad became a part of Prague and is now one of the cadastral districts of the city. Within the castle is the the Vyšehrad cemetery and the Cathedral of Saint Paul and Peter that contain the remains of the famous people from Czech history.
A 60 metre high steel framework tower in Prague, the Petřínská rozhledna resembles the Eiffel Tower, though it is much shorter than the latter. Built in 1891 on the top of a hill, it was used as an transmission and observation tower. A major tourist attraction of Prague, the tower is a bit of a tiresome climb. The hill is around half an hour walk upwards and gets slippery during snowfall. The tower has an elevator for the disabled. One can get a fantastic view of the Prague's Skyline on clear days.
Generally open everyday from 10am to 7pm from April to October and from 10am to 5pm from November to March only at weekends. On the main level, a small cafeteria and a gift shop is there and on the lowest level is a museum of Jára Cimrman.
Standing high above the city's traditional skyline, the Žižkov Television Tower was built in Prague between 1985 and 1992 on the top of a hill in the district of Žižkov. This tower has become an attraction for the tourists due to its unique design that resembles a rocket launchpad. Composed of three concrete pillars for the transmitters along with a restaurant, cafe and three observation rooms. 216 meters high and weighing 11800 tons, the tower is equipped with elevators to take its passengers to the different levels. It is also used as meteorological observatory.