Around one year ago, my friend, Arianne sent me a photograph of my name written on snow, overlooking a beautiful city. It was a birthday present from her trip to Europe that year. It was a sweet gesture that I truly appreciated. The photo was taken in Prague, and when she told me this, she urged me to see it in the future. Drawn to the beauty of the place, I told her I will definitely put Prague on my list.
After a memorable trip to Budapest, Jon and I took the night train headed for Prague (This time, everything went smoothly because there is no immigration check.). We arrived quite early and witnessed a beautiful sunrise on our way to the hotel. A new day, and a new city to explore. Then, I thought, it’s going to be a good three days here.
Old Town Square
The Old Town Square was quiet in the early hours of the day. We were lucky to get a glimpse of this admirable place just before the many tourists and buskers shroud its serenity. The impressive architecture has been well kept all these years, and I was simply in awe of the beauty of the old churches and buildings that reside in this square. Highlights include the St Nicholas Church and the Prague Astronomical Clock.
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It’s simply hard to avoid the crowds in this part of the city, but after a while, you learn to appreciate the colour and life that people add to these longstanding structures that have witnessed some tainted times in the Old Town Square’s history.
One of the most popular attractions in the city is the Charles’ Bridge, which crosses over Vltava River, and connects the Old Town and the Prague Castle. This bridge is easily recognizable for its different statues of somewhat religious context. Most times of the day, this place gets packed with tourists alongside local musicians, painters, and buskers of all sorts but it’s worth the trouble hustling with the crowd for a stunning view of the Prague castle and the rest of the city.
As if overlooking its kingdom, the Prague castle stands high above most parts of the city. We didn’t really spend a lot of time inside the castle complex, but we were impressed by the beautifully crafted church that resided there. We’re guilty for not giving more time to this place, so if we missed a lot, we’ll be happy to hear your thoughts.
Petrin Hill and Petrin Tower
If the Eiffel tower had a sibling it would have been Petrin Tower (the Eiffel tower in Las Vegas is probably the long lost twin). This observatory offers a panoramic view of the city of Prague. However, the downside is, there is no elevator! So you have to go up and down by foot. There are two observation platforms so there is a bit of time to rest both ways. It’s tiring but definitely worth the fascinating view.
The Petrin Tower is not the only attraction in Petrin Hill. There is also an old church, landscape gardens, the hunger wall, and the mirror maze. We visited the mirror maze as part of a package with the tower, and it was really fun! It only takes a few minutes and it’s a wicked escape from the touristy sights.
Petrin Hill can be reached via the funicular or by taking the walking track. We took the funicular on the way up and walked on the way down. It was quite a pleasant walk, a good way to mix things up and save a bit of money.
There are a number of watch towers in Prague, and it can be hard to choose which one would offer the best view. Be prepared to do a lot of walking uphill. The spiral staircases are not exactly wide (nor well lit) either. Nevertheless, the views from the tower are pretty amazing. The Powder Tower is located just before you reach the Old Town Square so it provides a contrast of the old and the new parts of Prague. If you have the time, it may be worth going to the tower next to the Astronomical clock during night time to get a different perspective of the square. We actually considered to go back there but we didn’t really have enough time (because we went to watch the movie, Interstellar instead. It was worth it, though.)
The Lennon wall is a contemporary attraction, a few minutes’ walk from Charles’ Bridge. It contains graffiti inspired by John Lennon and even some lyrics from The Beatles. Apparently, this wall is repainted quite often by authorities but people just add more graffiti, most of which are of topics related to love and peace and even activist movements on current events. It is an interesting detour from the old historical parts of Prague. We also saw a café quite close to the wall location with more Beatles memorabilia, in case you’re a fan.
Absinthe (The Drink)
If you’re up for it, get a bottle of Absinthe when you’re in Prague. After all, that’s where it originated. This famous alcoholic drink can apparently cause hallucinations (we didn’t get any when we tried it later on when we got to Vienna). It’s quite strong, but worth a shot. Drink responsibly and make sure you’re of legal age to drink.
Prague is an exquisite mix of the old and new. The well preserved Old Town blends well with the new life brought by interesting shops and attractions, as well as the variety of tourists that come from different parts of the world. If you think that Prague is just another touristy city, think again. There is a very good reason it is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and that definitely goes beyond photographs!
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Have you been to Prague? What was your favourite place? Let us know.