Ahh Praha, Stověžatá Praha (the city of the thousands towers) or also called Zlaté Město (the golden city), I was so looking forward to visiting there and in the end I had the chance! Prague is located in the heart of Europe, it has been the Czech Republic’s capital for more than 1100 years, is rich of historical and cultural places famous in all over the world. I went in Prague in december during the christmas period in fact I could find a lot of Vánoční Trhy (christmas market in Czech) and a magic atmosphere. Everywhere in the city there were beautiful christmas lights and trees, everything was ready for christmas. I visited Prague with a tourist group composed of people from my village and we went there by bus, yeah it sounds crazy and indeed it is! The trip took more than 12 hours, my friend and I were totally knocked out but the exctiment kept us awake, we wanted to see Prague very badly! As soon as we arrived, we accomodated in our room, the hotel was clean and nice and our room was spacious. Since we arrived in Prague in the evening, we passed the first day in the hotel in order to rest and be ready for the day after.
What to see in Prague
Our first destination was the Hebrew district, to reach it we passed through the Parížská Trída (Paris street), the most elegant street in Prague in the past. The buildings are all colorful but these colours were added in recently years because during soviet period colours were not tolerated, the houses should have been all the same. The guide also told that the prices of these houses are quite low because inhabitants of Prague prefer living out of the city in fact the most part of them have a Dacha, a kind of holidays house located in the countryside.
The Hebrew District and the Španělská Synagoga
The guide showed us the most beautiful synagogue in Prague called Španělská Synagoga (the spanish synagogue), this building stands on the Stará škola‘s foundation and it was the community’s centre of Sephardi Jews, that live separated by the other Jews. The synagogue has been built by Ugnác Ullmann in Moorish style, in fact the decoration and the golden archways remind much of the Spanish Alhambra and this is where the synagogue’s name comes. Inside there are a lot of items that belonged to the Czech Jews during the second world war. The synagogue was really beautiful, I really liked it but I could not take many photos because it was prohibited, there was a woman checking so the ones that I took are not very nice because I had to be careful of her.
After visiting this beautiful synagogue, we went ahead until we reached the Staroměstské Náměstí (the old city’s square), the most suggestive and touristic place in Prague. There are several important buildings such as Týnský Chrám, the church that stands against the sky and the first one that people notice, then Kostel Svatého Mikuláše (the saint Nicolas church), Staroměstská Radnice (the old town hall) and Palác Kinských (Kinsky palace). This square was literally invaded by a lot of stands selling beautiful christmas decoration, souvenirs and other kinds of gifts, my friend and I have bought a lot here. During the day it was lively and crowded with tourists, still much beautiful but by night it was even more beautiful and suggestive. The square was illuminated by the light of the christmas trees and the Týnský Chrám was the one that stands out the most.
The old city’s square was always full of tourists because of the Staroměstský Orloj (Prague astronomical clock). Every hours from the clock the 12 apostles went out and going around; it was almost impossible to see it, because it was very crowded in front of the town hall but we managed to take some photos and my friend even shot a video. The guide told us a story about the clock: the person that demanded of this clock blinded the watchmaker so that he could not be able to create clocks for other people anymore. I think that he was a cruel man. Anyway return to us, the clock is wonderful and very detailed, I bought a astronomical clock shaped-souvenir ahaha The guide also brought us to visit inside the town hall and we discovered that nowadays it’s not more used, it is only a tourist place but it can happen that the mayor sometimes have some meetings there and when it occurs, the town hall is closed to the tourists.
We visited also the Václavské náměstí (Wenceslas Square), the most lively and popular place in all Prague. The name of the square comes from the protector saint of Czech Republic, Wenceslaus, whose a big statue stands in a corner. In this square a young boy called Jan Palach, set fire to himself as a protest sign against the soviet government and ushered the so-called Prague’s spring. Here I discovered that the shoes shop Bata is czech, now the founder lives in the USA, that was very suprising for me! In addition the guide told us how the life was during the soviet period: Czechs could not travel abroad, they were all paid with the same amount of money irrespective of the fact that one was a mason or a politician and many other curiosities….
There is Malá Strana (the little neighbourhood) that was founded in 1257 and the centre is Malostranské Náměstí, the most important historical place is Kostel svatého Mikuláše (saint Nicolas in Malá Strana), that is the most important worship place after the Saint Vitus cathedral. It has been built in 1673 in baroque style by Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer, the most outstanding bohemian architect. There’s another church Kostel Panny Marie Vítězné (Church of Our Lady Victorious) where the Infant Jesus of Prague is kept. According to the legend the Infant Jesus can help people who can’t have babies and it’s a destination of pilgrimage. A curiosity: the Infant Jesus has different kinds of clothes that people donated throughout the centuries.
The thing that I like the most in Prague is Karlův Most (Charles Bridge), on it you can have a great sight of the city and of the Saint Vitus cathedral. The name of this bridge comes from the most important king of Holy Roman Empire, Charles IV. Charles IV was and is very loved by the inhabitants of Prague because he did a lot of good things for them. During soviet period the bridge was always deserted and due to the great immision of the carbon dioxide, the statues became almost black! Czechs tried in many ways to make them to return as before but it was all useless, anyway I think that now these black statues give to the bridge a feeling of mystery….
To try Czech Cuisine
The day before leaving we went to eat in a typical czech restaurant that our guide suggested us. The price was really cheap and the food very good. The first dish was the Prague’s Ham, it was really tasty! I advise you to try it because it is worth it. The second dish was a kind of pancakes, I still do not know now what they were, with meat and the last was a dessert that I did not eat because I am not very fond of cakes… In the restaurant there were also the typical czech clothes, they were so nice.
We visited also the Prague castle that is located a bit out of the city. This is not a proper castle but more a city in a city, it is dfficult to explain. In Prague castle’s complex there’s Franz Kafka‘s house situated in the Zlatá Ulička (the Golden Lane). The golden lane is a narrow street where there are different souvenir shops and a museum about the middle-ages and it’s contained medieval clothes, armors, weapons and machines of torture used during medieval period. The house of Franz Kafka is relatively small, my friend that wanted to visit it very badly, got disappointed because there’s nothing interesting there, it’s sold only some souvenirs. At the entrance of the Prague castle there are some guards, like the ones in London and my friend and I had fun giving them names ahah
St. Vitus Cathedral
In the Prague castle’s complex there’s the most important church of Prague and the symbol of Czech Republic: Katedrála Svatého Víta (Saint Vitus Cathedral). The construction of the nowadays church started in 1344 by Matthias of Arras, on behalf of Charles IV and the works finished only in 1929. The cathedral is dedicated to the Italian saint Vitus that is much worshipped in Czech Republic. Also this building has been polluted by the great emission of carbon dioxide during soviet period, in fact it’s much black but still much beautiful.
The View over Prague from the Castle
Near the cathedral there was a big square where you have a beautiful sight of the city! The whole city of Prague extended in front of your eyes, it’s just wonderful! We also saw Prague by night but my camera was not enough powerful to take a decent photo so I gave up….
The guide left us freetime on the last day before returning home so that we could buy souvenirs for our relatives and visit the city alone. My friend and I have spent our time on buying gifts in the old city’s square, we literally “rob” christmas markets!! We tried a typical czech food whose name is Trdlo or Trdelník (very hard to pronunce), the dough is sweet bread cooked on wood and shaped like a long stick and plus it’s strewed with sugar and cinnamon. I can say that it’s fantastic, try it if you have the possibility. My friend wanted to visit Hard Rock as well because everywhere she goes, she wants to buy the Hard Rock t-shirt (she’s obsessed). Anyway the Hard Rock building was really beautiful and there was a funny shop assistant that could speak Italian ahah
Unfortunately the last day came and we had to leave this beautiful place. I had much fun and I discovered and learnt a lot of new things about Prague and Czech Republic in general, I really appreciated their culture. Czechs are also much kind, they can speak several languages, they always speak italian with me as soon as they recognized that I was from Italy (instead I wanted to practice my English) ahaha On the way back the trip organizer decided to stop in a tiny village called Český Krumlov that is a UNESCO world heritage. The construction of the city started in XIII century as an important port in the economical trades. The most part of the buildings are dated between XIV and XVII century and their style is gothic, baroque and renaissance. The Český Krumlov’s castle is strangely fine and big for a little village like this and only the Prague castle is bigger than it. The castle contains a very well preserved baroque theatre that is used only once a year in order not to ruin it. Even in Český Krumlov there was a christmas market, smaller but not less beautiful!
My friend and I followed a group of Japanese people accompanied by a guide and since I can understand Japanese we stayed with them in order to know more about this little village so, in a nutshell, we had the guide at somebody else’s expense ahaha Besides this, following them was a great idea because we found a place where we could see the whole Český Krumlov and it was simply stunning, the castle was the most beautiful among all those colorful houses.
I really loved this trip, I could get to know other places and all of them were wonderful, we were also lucky because this year there was not very cold there, hotter than normal as our guide said, it did not even snow! I was sad because I excepted to pass a snowy christmas, it has never happend to me because where I live snow is rare but despite this, the trip was R-E-A-L-L-Y fantastic! I advise you all to visit Czech Republic, you will never regret it 😉 Tede