Few places in the world can match Prague’s Old World charm and history. It is one of Europe’s best- preserved cities having escaped the major bombing of the last century’s World Wars. It is both Art Nouveau and medieval, pastel facades and Baroque architecture – truly a photographer’s delight. While there are still some stark reminders of the Communist era, you can easily feel like you’re strolling through the 18th century. And don’t forget to drop in to a local pub to enjoy the hearty food and good pilsner beer! Here are our top 10 things to see and do in Prague on your next vacation.
This historic stone bridge was commissioned in 1342 and connects Old Town to the district called the Little Quarter (diplomatic district) at the base of Prague Castle across the Vltava River. The bridge is almost seven football fields long and is lined with lanterns and 30 statues of saints, bookmarked by medieval towers at each end. A walk across the bridge is especially enjoyable in the evening when the lanterns are on and the iconic view of Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral are lit up in the background and reflected in the Vltava River below.
Address: Karlův most, 110 00 Praha 1, Czechia
Construction started: 1357
This sprawling complex has been the seat of Czech power for centuries. It dates from the 9th century and includes the country’s top church, its royal palace, and an assortment of other historical sites and art museums. The square covers some 750,000 square feet which makes it the largest ancient castle complex in the world.
Address: 119 08 Prague 1, Czechia
Construction started: 870
Architectural styles: Baroque, Mannerism
Architects: Matthias of Arras, Peter Parler
St. Vitus Cathedral – Top 10 Things to See and Do in Prague
St. Vitus Cathedral, with its flying buttresses and spiny spires, is the historic main church of the Czech people. Construction started in 1344, but wars, plagues, and reforms conspired to delay its completion. It was finally finished in 1929 for the 1000th Jubilee anniversary of St. Wenceslas. Inside, Wenceslas Chapel is the historic heart of the Cathedral where Bohemia’s kings were crowned, and it houses the Bohemian crown jewels. It also contains the tomb of St. Wenceslas, patron saint of the Czech nation.
Address: III. nádvoří 48/2, 119 01 Praha 1, Czechia
Construction started: 1344
Architectural styles: Gothic
Architects: Peter Parler, Matthias of Arras
Old Town Square
The magical main square of Old World Prague houses dozens of colorful facades including the Baroque-style Church of St Nicholas, Kinsky Palace, gothic-style Tyn Church, and the 14th-century Old Town Hall and Astronomical Clock. The Old Town Hall, with its distinctive trapezoidal tower, was built in the 1350s during Prague’s Golden Age. Its Astronomical Clock was installed in the early 1400s and strikes the top of the hour by putting on a little glockenspiel show.
Address: 10 00 Staré Město, Czechia
This is the centerpiece of Prague’s New Town with its National Museum and landmark statue of St. Wenceslas. This square was originally founded as a horse market; today it’s a modern world of high-fashion streets, glitzy shopping malls, fast food restaurants and sausage stands.
Address: 110 00 Nové Město, Czechia
The Jewish Quarter – Top 10 Things to See and Do in Prague
Within Old Town lies a three-block radius where several original synagogues, Jewish cemeteries, museums, and other landmarks have survived the centuries. Especially poignant is the Old Jewish Cemetery where one can wander along a path of 12,000 tombstones that are old, eroded, inscribed in Hebrew and leaning this way and that. From 1439 to 1787 this was the only burial ground allowed to the Jews of Prague, so over time the graves had to be piled on top of each other – sometimes up to eight deep – so there are actually closer to 85,000 dead here. Layer by layer, the cemetery grew into a small plateau which is now several feet above the modern street level – which is already high above the medieval level.
Address: 110 00 Prague 1, Czechia
Museum of Communism
Housed in a cramped and creaky old mansion, this humble but engaging museum traces the origin, reality, and finally the Velvet Revolution history of communism in Czechoslovakia. It gives a thought-provoking review of the Czech Republic’s 40-year stint with Soviet economics, and provides views of propaganda posters, relics, busts of Marx, Lenin, and other Communist leaders.
Address: V Celnici 1031/4, 118 00 Nové Město, Czechia
Established: 26 December 2001
Wallenstein Palace & Gardens
The original Palace was built to rival Prague Castle by Albrecht von Wallenstein between 1623-1630. Wallenstein made his name and fortune as the Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial forces in the Thirty Years War. After WWII, the Palace became Czechoslovak state property and was renovated to house government offices. Today the Senate of the Czech Republic operates out of its main buildings. The Palace complex includes Baroque-style manicured gardens, some 30 bronze sculptures, an aviary, a grotto, a beautiful fountain, and roaming peacocks.
Address: Valdštejnské nám. 4, 118 00 Malá Strana, Czechia
Construction started: 1623
Architectural style Baroque
Lennon Wall – Top 10 Things to See and Do in Prague
While Communism hung over the Czech people like a thick fog, John Lennon’s lyrics gave many locals hope and a vision. After Lennon was killed in 1980, this large wall was spontaneously covered with memorial graffiti. Day after day, the police would paint over “All You Need Is Love” and “Imagine,” only to have it re-appear the next day. This wall is remembered as a place that gave hope to people craving freedom.
Address: Velkopřevorské náměstí, 100 00 Praha 1, Czechia
Strahov Monastery and Library
Founded in 1143, the monastery complex was a mix of agriculture, industry, and education, as well as worship and theology. In its heyday it had a booming economy all its own with vineyards, a brewery, and a sizable beer hall. Explore the monastery complex, visit the beautiful old library, and enjoy a cold brew in the beer hall that is now open once again!
Address: Strahovské nádvoří 1/132, 118 00 Praha 1, Czechia
Architectural style: Baroque architecture
Architect: Anselmo Lurago
Address: Velkopřevorské náměstí, 100 00 Praha 1, Czechia