This is my second time in Prague, and the city has me no less gobsmacked this time around. Arguably the most beautiful city in Europe, a thousand years of history has given it a most unique cultural heritage. In the Old Town of Prague, you will find the finest examples of European architecture: Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, Neo-Classical and Art Nouveau.
Since we arrived in Prague from Cesky Krumlov 2 days ago, we have traipsed its streets and wandered endlessly from one fascinating pocket of town to another. Here are the definite must-sees of this spectacular city:
Prague Castle and the Cathedral of St Vitus: A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Prague Castle complex, which includes the Cathedral of St Vitus, consists of a large-scale composition of palaces and church buildings of various architectural styles, from Roman-style buildings from the 10th century through Gothic modifications in the 14th century. The castle and the cathedral are two iconic buildings that have dominated the skyline of Prague for the past millennium, and their shifting fortunes through time have reflected those of the Czech nation. A photographer’s dream, we were lucky to be at the castle at 1pm to witness the changing of the guards. The Jewish Quarter: For centuries, the real heart of the Old Town of Prague was the Jewish quarter: the Old Cemetery, the synagogues, the Golem. A walk through this part of Prague gives an insight into a thriving culture that was nearly destroyed during World War II. Today, the Jewish Museum commemorates the Jews who perished during, as well as the few who survived, the atrocities of The Holocaust. The Jewish Quarter holds a special place in Peter’s heart, as it was in one of the synagogues here that he made his Bar Mitzvah at the age of 14.
The Charles Bridge: On the top of every Prague visitor's must-see list, the Charles Bridge is a stone Gothic bridge that connects the Old Town and Malá Strana. It is also popular with artists, musicians and souvenir vendors who sell their works on both sides of the bridge all year-round. The best time of day to visit the Charles bridge is at sunset; it’s cooler and you can enjoy a gorgeous view of the fully lit Prague Castle silhouetted against the evening sky.
On a very personal level, Prague is also the birthplace of my partner Peter, and his sisters, Sonja and Ivana. They have chosen to meet in Prague at this time, along with their respective spouses, to disperse the ashes of Hana, their mother, over the areas that she loved as a young girl in her beloved hometown. Suffice to say that it was a deeply moving time for us as a family and I felt privileged to be a part of it.
Transport Tip for Prague: The trams are one of the most efficient ways to get around in Prague. However, never forget to purchase your ticket from a ticket kiosk prior to getting on, and always validate your ticket from the automatic machine the moment you get on the tram. Otherwise, you will be heavily fined. If you don’t believe me, just ask the Australian tourists who were fined 800 Czech koruna each for failing to validate their ticket.
Also, trams have right of way in Prague, even if you are on a pedestrian crossing that has given you the green light to walk. And believe me, the tram drivers will exercise this right! There have been several deaths caused by trams running over pedestrians.