I remember, back in 2016, sitting by the river Thames looking over the tower bridge in London and thinking about the people who live there, surrounded by all that history, all those monuments, and they don’t really care. It’s part of their day. It becomes mundane. I had the same feeling about Rome. If I moved there would I get used to all that? Would I begin to consider it ordinary or would I be able to keep the excitement and enthusiasm of being around so much history?
I must confess that even though Prague is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the World by many, I went there to visit a friend. That’s it. I didn’t think much of it or did any research. Just let things happen this time.
A very similar thing happened when I went to Edinburgh. I was not expecting much but the result was mesmerizing. It’s still one of my favourite places in the world.
I’m in Love
I’m not sure I can put my finger on what exactly all the cities I love the most have in common. From Seville to Edinburgh, from Nice to L.A, to Barcelona and now Prague, they all seem to be very particular and yet all of them completely won my heart over to the point it made me think: “I would love to live here”. I even looked for visa options, just to have all the info 😏
Prague has a beauty and a charm that is way beyond my ability to explain. The buildings, the details hidden all over the city, the food, the water. Of course, the fact that I had the most amazing two days with friends helped. I left with a feeling that I need to go back to spend more time and explore everything the city has to offer. All the museums, cafes, and parks. Also, the surrounding countries. It’s easy to get to Slovakia, Hungary, etc from there. Not to mention, Vienna.
Getting to Prague
Since the rest of the group was gonna go skiing on Monday, I decided to go straight to Vienna and then get a ride with Jirka to Prague. I left the B&B and headed to the train station to buy my ticket to Vienna.
The train station in Hüttau is so small it doesn’t even have a platform. You get off the train right there, in the middle of the tracks. What I didn’t think was that it would not have a ticket machine or booth so I could purchase the ticket.
Oh well, there wasn’t. But all good because I could buy the ticket online, right?
I got caught in some weird security check limbo on the website and could not use my card to buy anything. This was the same card and site I had used to purchase another 3 or 4 tickets before).
I ended up having to ask Jirka to buy the ticket for me. But it all worked out in the end and I got on the train without any issues. (Other than the imminent threat that my still very upset stomach would start erupting again.
We left Vienna around 4:30 PM and headed to Prague with no incidents.
Exploring Prague – Tuesday
Prague is divided into 10 municipal districts and 22 administrative districts. I stayed in Praha 6, which is the largest Prague district. It is located in the northwest of the city. This, to be honest, I found very confusing. Jirka tried to explain how the address system works and I got dizzy trying to understand.
On Tuesday, after work, Damianne and I went for a walk and visited some interesting landmarks. We started with the Castle and the Cathedral.
The Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Today, besides being the seat of the head of state, is also an important cultural and historical monument. It’s also where the Crown Jewels are kept. Also, the relics of Bohemian kings, precious Christian relics, art treasures and historical documents.
You can visit the castle and walk in most areas with some of them requiring a ticket to enter. The Cathedral e so big the only picture I was able to take turned out very weird. I had to take a vertical panoramic picture so it could fit.
St. Vitus Cathedral is the largest and the most important temple in Prague. The building is absolutely stunning. It began to be built in 1344 by Charles IV in a Gothic style. In 1419 the construction of the Cathedral stopped because of the Hussite Wars and remained uncompleted for centuries.
The cathedral is open to visitors, but we missed it by 5 minutes.
In the very heart of the Castle, there is a small, but beautiful garden called Zahrada na Baště. The garden was designed in the 30s by the Slovenian architect Josip Plečnik.
Other than the nice landscaping, the garden hides a secret. It’s called Plečnik staircase.
He designed it so that when you stand and speak in the middle of the circle you will hear your voice echo. And not just any kind, it sounds like you are talking to yourself from below!
It’s so weird but a very fun experience.
We also saw the (small) change of guard. The big one happens at a different time.
Everywhere you look, the details are breathtaking.
Outside of the Castle
From the castle, we headed to the Lennon Wall. The Lennon Wall or John Lennon Wall is a wall in Prague, Czech Republic. Since the 1980s, people keep filling it with John Lennon–inspired graffiti, lyrics from Beatles’ songs, and designs relating to local and global causes.
We then headed to the Grand Prior’s Mill in Kampa. Kampa is an island in the Vltava river. The mill was founded by the Johannites during the reign of King Vladislav I. In 1598, the mill was rebuilt into its present Renaissance form.
At the mill wheel, the statue of the waterman Kabourka , by the local sculptor Josef Nálepa sits as the guardian of the water mill.
A little bit further you can find one of the weirdest things I have seen so far. Miminka (Babies) by David Černý. The piece consists of several sculptures depicting babies, which are 350 cm long and 260 cm high. Their faces are replaced with barcode stamps.
The babies can also be seen crawling up and down on the exterior of Prague’s Žižkov Television Tower. We then headed to the Charles bridge.
In the picture above you can see to the left the Charles Bridge. This is a medieval stone arch bridge that crosses the Vltava river.
Eating in Prague
I must confess Prague is WAY more gluten-free friendly than I was expecting. I was able to keep my usual keto diet with one exception I made to try out the local Goulash with dumplings.
On Tuesday evening we went to a local Gluten-free restaurant called U Agamy (35, Štítného 202, 130 00 Praha 3, Czechia) where I had delicious chicken wings and Beef Goulash
Really tasty food, with great service, and huge portions (I only had one of the 4 dumplings and, of course, all the meat).
From there we went to the Art Nouveau Lucerna Palace where a very particular statue of the king (and later saint) Wenceslas riding an upside-down (and apparently dead) horse. The sculpture is a mocking reference to the more famous equestrian statue of the King that sits in Wenceslas Square. The artist? Yes, you guessed it right if you said David Černý. The same one that came up with the creepy babies.
Every corner we turned, there was something amazing to see, some detail, a street named after someone famous, an interesting sculpture. Something that makes Prague even more interesting than it already is on top of its amazing architecture and beautiful landscape.
Kudos to Damianne for taking me to the most amazing places.
From there we headed to see the National Museum, which is the largest museum in the Czech Republic. It is a majestic building.
The building was attacked on two occasions. In March 1945, during the Prague uprising, an aerial bomb hit the building, collections were secured in a safe location and were not damaged.
In 1968, the building was attacked again, this time by the Soviets in their invasion to end the Czech Spring. They drove their tanks to Wenceslas Square and shot at the museum thinking it was Radio Prague.
This is Wenceslas Square and the statue in the middle is the one David Černý was mocking with his upside-down horse statue.
The Powder Tower
The Powder Tower is one of the original 13 city gates in Old Town, Prague. Its construction began in 1475. The tower was intended to be an attractive entrance into the city, instead of a defensive tower.
Beside the tower are the Municipal House and the Smetana Hall (Obecní dům – Smetanova síň). The Smetana Hall is a regular point of the most important concerts of the Prague Spring. The seating capacity at the concert arrangement is 1259.
There’s also a very fancy french restaurant on the ground floor.
More gothic buildings
About 600m to the west we get to the old town square. Another jaw-dropping area that I could not stop admiring. There you will find the Church of Our Lady before Týn (Chrám Matky Boží před Týnem)
One of the most impressive Gothic religious buildings in Prague. It was built from the mid-14th to the early 16th centuries.
At the same square is one of the things I wanted to see the most in Prague: The Astronomical Clock
The Prague astronomical clock or Prague Orloj is a medieval astronomical clock attached to the Old Town. The clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest clock still in operation
We ended the night by visiting the Il Commendatore, a bronze sculpture by Anna Chromy, in memory of Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni’s.
It is just outside Prague’s Opera house where Mozart Mozart first performed Don Giovanni on October 29th, 1787.
He played from this terrace:
Not sure how to explain the feeling. Goosebumps everywhere.
And with that this post will come to an end. If you got all the way here, congratulations, you are a hero. This was a gigantic post. I’m just too excited about Prague. I will post about day 2 tomorrow. It was a bit less intense.