One of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, Prague has been the heart of the Czech Republic for well over a millenium. As such, the pre-eminent city has built up quite a stash of landmarks, monuments, cathedrals, museums and palaces, most of which fall under the auspices of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
With a population of about 1.2 million, Prague is wonderfully manageable, amenable to pedestrians and incredibly scenic. For culture, sophistication and nightlife, the Czech capital has inordinate appeal. So why wait then? Head to the cradle of Bohemia and put these ten attractions at the top of your Prague list.
10. Astronomical Clock
One of the premier Old Town Square landmarks in Prague, the ornate and intricate Astronomical Clock is a marvel of medieval craftsmanship. A section of the creation dates back to the early 15th century and the clock contains enough animated figures, details and parts to keep you busy for quite some time.
9. The Lennon Wall
A once bland but historic wall in Prague underwent a monumental transformation in the 1980s when John Lennon and his music became a paramount symbol of protest by young people against the hardline Communist regime in what was then Czechoslovakia. The wall has been a continual work in progress ever since.
8. Wenceslas Square
A beautiful civic square in New Town and a nexus point of commerce and culture (and strip clubs), Wenceslas Square has been a de facto locale of peaceful demonstrations and violent protests for decades, from the Czech resistance of 1945 to the Velvet Revolution.
7. Vysehrad Castle
A 10th century castle complex that looms on a lovely perch over the Vltava River, Vysehrad is a vital link to the past. The complex contains a fortress castle, cathedral and burial ground of some of the most influential figures in Czech history.
6. The Dancing House
Frank Gehry has been so prolific in recent years that one wonders what the octogenarian architect eats. While the zany and graceful Dancing House in Prague was a collaborative effort, the Canadian’s unmistakable trademark fluidity is all over it. Head to the rooftop restaurant for a brilliant view of the city.
5. The Mucha Museum
Prague was once a hotbed of Art Nouveau and the design aesthetic is everywhere in the city, thanks in no small part to the late, great Czech artist Alphonse Maria Mucha. For a taste of pure Prague culture, visit the exquisite Mucha Museum.
4. Old New Synagogue
Prague’s Old New Synagogue has been active since 1270, a feat that makes it exceptional in Europe and indeed, the world. The genuine Gothic design is staid and austere but imparts a powerful impact. Remarkably, the synagogue made it through the Nazi occupation of Prague unscathed.
3. Petrin Hill
Petrin Hill offers magnificent views of Prague and is several attractions in one. From the 14th century Hunger Wall to the Strahov Monastery, Stefanik Observatory and a memorial to the victims of the totalitarian Communist regime, Petrin is wonderful. One piece of advice: take the funicular railway to the top.
2. The National Museum
The words “national museum” often imply a singular glance into the culture of a particular country. Well, with over 14 million Czech-centric items, the National Museum in Prague is no exception. In point of fact, the facility is one of the best in Europe and is impossible to miss from Wenceslas Square.
1. Prague Castle
Just because Prague Castle ranks number one in physical magnitude by the good people at the Guinness Book of Records does not mean a lick. What does rather, is the fact that the magnificent complex has roots as far back as 870. The castle has been a home to Holy Roman Emperors, kings, queens and Presidents. At least eighteen buildings, from palaces to churches, halls to towers, and eight gardens are contained within the complex borders. Try to block off some time when you visit, in other words.