Careful calculation of time is a must when travelling, especially when visiting famous landmarks and places. I say that because when we visited Prague’s Wenceslas square, it was a lovely morning but the sun was on that part casting shadows, thus, our silhouette photos.
The square is part of the city centre recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. The plaza has a very rich history having witnessed a number of demonstrations and gatherings. For one, it was in front of the Wenceslas monument where Alois Jirasek, Czech writer and Nobel Prize in Literature nominee, proclaimed the independence of Czechoslovakia in 1918.
The square is lined up with many different establishments – we unfortunately didn’t go down further to take photos but the entire strip is composed of hotels, food establishments, offices and shops. What is most notable is the National Museum, designed by Czech architect Josef Schulz. Looking at it, the neoclassical make of the building resembles Vienna’s own twin museums of Natural history and Art history. As mentioned above, timing is a good thing to consider…we came earlier than 8 in the morning, we weren’t able to peak inside the museum – still closed – and so we missed seeing the collection of artifacts on display.
Another installation worth mentioning when visiting the square is the monument of the saint it was named after; Saint Wenceslas, mounted on a horse; the patron saint of Bohemia. The monument was sculpted by Josef Václav Myslbek in 1887–1924. There are a number statues surrounding Saint Wenceslas representing other saints (St. Adalbert, St. Ludmila, St. Prokop and St. Agnes of Bohemia). Pardon, I don’t have a photo of his supposed face in a good angle. :/
On our last day in Prague, hubby and I got some “we” time as we went to see the Petrin lookout Tower and view Prague, its spires and charms under the basking sun from above. The kids not being with us, were left to swim at the hotel with their grandmom, it doesn’t happen too often. It was not like the other landmarks in Prague we saw which were a stone’s throw away from the hotel. We had to hop from a tram to another and walk uphill to reach the observation deck. There’s actually a funicular (cliff railway) that can take visitors up easily but yes, we did it the hard way.
Going to the tower by foot means a bit of trekking for us. There’s a path on the hill that has been considerately made for those wanting to see the tower with a bit of adventure…or sweat. The hill was full of mini-fruit trees – apples and oranges on its slope.
Halfway through the hill, there’s a bit of clearing with some benches were one can rest and partially enjoy the view of the city of spires. Hubby and I took that chance to replenish ourselves, we realized that biking over the weekend and playing basketball and tennis at times helped in building our stamina. We took some shots but we were against the light, hence, we ended up with not so flattering photos.
The sun was surely sunny that morning but the wind was intimidating too, we walked up with our cardigans still. The trek was a curious one as you can easily clear paths and then there’s the stairs. I can’t clearly remember if the stairs stretch down to the foot of the hill or if it starts from where we found it. :/ But it would definitely have been easier to go up there than on pure soil. lols.
Being on a hill, the tower is naturally surrounded by trees. Going up, we noticed big stone slabs with numbers…if I’m not mistaken these are what Catholics call stations of the cross. Prague is mostly a Catholic nation having been the seat of two Holy Roman emperors and also the capital of the Roman empire. Thus explains too the city’s nickname, “City of a Hundred Spires.”
Upon reaching the top of the hill, there’s a lovely pink church which is perhaps why there are those stations of the cross along the way. I learned that this is t he Cathedral of St. Lawrence.
The Petrin Lookout tower is a 60 metre high steel framework that resembles the Eiffel tower albeit smaller and has a different structure. Despite, it being situated on a hill gives it a higher altitude than the Eiffel tower. Thus, we could say going up was like walking up the Eiffel tower or opting out the lift.
We arrived just in time for opening, yeah it took half an hour up the hill and the tower opens at 10, just perfect. There’s an entrance hall in the entire base selling whatnots, an information and ticket booth and a small café and on the lowest level still is a small museum of Jára Cimrman, a Czech fictional character presented as one of the greatest Czech of the 19th and early 20th century. I forgot how much the entry fee costs as we had to pay in Euros as we have no Koruna at the time. We could have walked up the stairs but we opted for the lift this time. ^_^
Atop, Prague’s skyline of red roofs and spires is like bathing happily in sun rays. Up there looking down, one can see the historic Hunger wall, a medieval defense wall built sometime in 1360. Hladová means hunger because the wall was built to employ the poor and feed them…thus hladová zeď has become a Czech euphemism for useless public works.
Hubby and I spent quite some time up there just enjoying the view, the spires, the Vltava River, bridges, the greenery…of course, it would have been better if it’s winter as the red roofs are partly covered with snow…it’s surely a picturesque view.
(Sunset reflection at the Old Town and a crystal store.)
Escape into the preserved cobblestone walks, walled courtyards, and spire dotted skyline of Prague. Be magically transported to the majestic past as you walk through the streets of this capital city, moving among the mix of cathedrals, towers, and domes along with establishments offering a more modern and energetic take on Prague’s cultural scene.
There are plenty of things to discover and enjoy in Prague. Below are just five of the reasons why going to Prague is included in most people’s travel wish-list:
1. The Attractions – There’s a great number of museums, architectural sights, and other places to see in Prague. Particularly interesting are the Old Town and the New Town, two locales that are popular among tourists for the historic buildings and monuments they have as well as the beautiful panoramic sights and quaint parks.
2. The Activities – Prague’s old world charm is not deficient in exciting things to do. Among the things that you should try when visiting Prague are sightseeing flights and river cruises. Sightseeing flights give you a bird’s eye view tour of the city on board a helicopter or a hot air balloon. While you’re at it, you might even want to try skydiving in Prague.
(Prague’s Orloj -600-year-old Astronomical Clock – at the Old Town and a balloon floating above the city.)
3. The People – The people of Prague are jovial and accommodating. They are actually the best people to show you around the city. Walking tours conducted by locals themselves can be requested right off the street, usually free of charge with the locals regaling you with historical tales made more interesting with their personal commentary and anecdotes. It is also an acceptable practice for tourists to join a group of people to banter with during drinking hour.
4. The Food – Prague has a number of restaurants serving up local cuisine. Lunch time is busiest in the city since this meal is traditionally regarded as the main meal of the day. Expect to be served a selection of meat dishes, usually pork or beef, with sidings of dumplings or potatoes. Street food can also be enjoyed in Prague with vendors dishing out Czech style hotdogs right at the Old Town Square and in New Town’s Wenceslas Square.
(My plate of larded braised beef with a thick sauce of carrot, parsley root, celeriac, and chantilly cream – served with dumplings on the side. View of a church from the corridors of a nearby palace.)
5. The Booze – Prague’s beers and alcoholic drinks are considered to be one of the come-ons for international travellers. In this part of the world, these drinks cost even less than drinking water. Bars and pubs would have their own selection of brands. The more adventurous drinkers would have a ball with the all-night bar hopping and drinking parties called pub crawls – there’s one at The Crawl and another group that meets in front of the Astronomical Clock.
Prague really has a lot to offer to travellers looking for more than just amusement parks and shopping sprees during their vacations. The adventurous and independent traveller yearning to discover some of the world’s cultural treasures would definitely enjoy a week or two in Prague.
Or the Drunk House is a building in downtown Prague, Czech Republic at Rašínovo nábřeží 80, 120 00 Praha 2. Technically the Nationale-Nederlandenbuilding. It was designed by Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunić in cooperation with Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry on a vacant riverfront lot. The building was originally called Fred and Ginger, a nod to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers as the house resembles a pair of dancers.
I requested hubby that we must see this Art Noveau building before the day ends. I knew it would be worth the trouble walking and braving the streets for some shots!
The Dancing House is situated on the riverfront. Going on the other side of the road to have a full view of the building, I can’t help but shoot the scenic river too.
During our trip to Prague I was determined to see one historical piece of artifact; the Astronomical clock, Orloj. Although the third oldest clock in the world, it is the oldest one still working — since 1410. This alone is a good reason for us to go about the city walking just to find it.
The colors of the sun falling on the tower of the town hall holding the clock was a welcome sight, it drew us nearer – into the center of the Old Town.
The Old Town is a fusion of old charm and modern architecture. Look to the left and there are buildings with all the glorious spires. Look to the right and there’s your favorite coffee shop.
The area where the Orloj can be found is a busy plaza, at least when we went there. Tourists and vendors abound. There are those admiring the clock from below, clicking their cameras here and there- much like I did. Most of us where waiting for the clock to strike the hour and see the parade of the apostles — mechanical figures and hear the sound of a trumpet’s horn.
Others are waiting for their turn to go up the tower to see a view of the Old Town from above. I unfortunately wasn’t able to. They say you can also have a photo of the trumpet guy up there…I’m pretty sure the sun’s rays on those gothic buildings is much more magnificent when viewed from up above.
The Orloj is considered a primitive planetarium, why not – it displays the current state of the universe with all those bolts and pieces. Its main components are: the astronomical dial, representing the position of the Sun and Moon in the sky and displaying various astronomical details and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months.
Prague was not without a lot of walking about on cobblestones, going up hills and walls and admiring the view of adobe and red brick roofs which would have been more beautiful if laden with snow. But I won’t really complain since it would be difficult to go about if the streets and hills are covered with snow too…Above is a view of the Malá Strana from other side of the Vltava River. A big church’s two bell towers are visible and this church is located at the Vysehrad Fortress, our first stop on Saturday morning.
Our hotel was at the city center so we had to take two train lines going to Vysehrad. From the train station we walk a good bit down to the fortress which was very peaceful. Going about, we ended at the Neo Gothic Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, built already in the 11 th century by the first Bohemian King Vratislav II. The church is characterized by two identical towers (in photo was shot from behind). These are just two of the hundred of spires that comprise Prague.
What was surprising here – for me at least, was the cemetery adjacent to the church. The Vysehrad cemetery is the final resting place of many Czech composers, artists, sculptors, writers, and known figures from the world of science and politics. I hadn’t read about this particular spot when I was looking for itineraries to list down before our visit. Then there, just by the entrance was Jan Neruda’s grave. It was from him that Chilean poet and 1971 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto took his pseudonym, more popular with it actually – Pablo Neruda, one of my favorite authors.
Walking at the Vysehrad and the Mala Strana, one feels as though Jan Neruda’s Povídky malostranské (Tales of the Little Side) came to life. Other known figures in the cemetery I’m familiar with were Antonín Dvořák, and Alphonse Mucha.
Charles Bridge is a historic and an important bridge in Prague connecting Prague Castle and the Old Town…it crosses the River Vltava (Moldau). The bridge is full of people crossing by, taking photos and buying souvenirs as the stretch is full of portrait artists, craft sellers, street performers, locals and of course, tourists. The gothic bridge is also lined by statues as old as 1683 and done mostly by known Bohemian sculptors Matthias Braun and Jan Brokoff.
From the bridge, the River Moldau can be admired and enjoyed – bordered by apartments with their charming red and orange roofs, paddleboats, ships and fishing boats passing by add extra attraction.
This restaurant by the riverside caught my attention. At the farther right is the Kafka Museum which I missed visiting. Hubby and I spent a considerable amount of time to see the Dancing House…
At the other end is the bridge tower on the side of Malá Strana (Little Side). This part is another charming area which I will feature in the next posts.
(black and white, colored photos for sale and bridge tower at the background)