Monday, 13 August 2018

Prague Attractions.

I wish I could spend more days in Prague to fully savour the culture, lifestyle and attractions that this beautiful city has to offer. Though my stay was brief, the few places I visited and the streets, bridges and squares I passed through got me immensely mesmerized. The huge assemblage of architectural masterpieces, the quaint streets and setting of the city, the unique decor of shops and restaurants to mention a few are really impressive. Prague is an awesome city indeed.

Listed below are the attractions I visited.

1.Prague Castle Complex
Prague Castle has entered the Guinness Book of Records as the largest ancient castle in the world. The castle dates back to the 9th century and covers a whopping area of 750,000 square feet.(70,000 sq meters). The castle complex comprises palaces,  huge courtyards, churches, chapels, halls, towers, a monastery, historical houses and even a vineyard. 
There are three main entrances into Prague Castle and each is guarded by two presidential guards.These guards are members of a special army division and are specially selected under strict criteria for example they cannot wear glasses, must not have beards or moustache, tattoos or piercing, cannot be overweight and a few more unmentioned criteria. If you wait long enough you can witness the changing of guards at the entrance.

One of the attractions within the complex is New Royal Palace (Nový Královský Palác) which used to be the residence of past Czech rulers. This palace which has a huge courtyard is now the administrative office of the current president. Only the courtyard is opened to the public. 

Kohl's Fountain is an ornate Baroque fountain found in the courtyard of New Royal Castle. The fountain is supplied with water from an ancient water pipe, that brings water from the Brusnice stream.

The most imposing structure within the complex is St Vitus Cathedral which was built over a span of 600 years. Built in Gothic architectural style with intricate facades it is also the largest church in Poland. This cathedral is home to tombs of many Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors. 

The entrance on the southern side of St Vitus Cathedral is known as The Golden Gate. This is adorned with an exquisite piece of art known as Mosaic Of The Last Judgement.

The intricate details seen on the cathedral are stunning indeed..

Within the courtyard of St Vitus's Cathedral stands the bronze statue of St. George slaying the dragon and a granite monolith that stands at sixteen meters high.

Basilica of St George which is now a concert hall and museum is the oldest surviving building within Prague castle. This basilica which is dedicated to St George was founded in year 920.

St. Wenceslas Vineyard is part of the walking route I took in Prague Castle Complex. This is one of the oldest vineyards in Czech Republic dating back to the 10th century. Walking through this vineyard which is located at higher ground, you get to see a stupendous view of Prague. 

2. Malá Strana
Malá Strana, also known as Lesser Town or Little Quarter is located at the foothills of Prague Castle near the river bank of Vltava River and opposite to where the Old Town is located. Dotted with lovely shops and restaurants and lined with quaint streets, I really enjoyed my walk around this area.

There is a very weird outdoor scupture called  "Piss" in Mala Strana. Piss features the sculpture of two men pissing into a little pool.

In the vicinity lies the serene river bank of Vltava River where you can see a ballet of white swans, Manes Bridge and tourist boats.

The narrowest street in Prague is also located in Mala Strana. Known as Vinarna Certovka this pedestrian street is only10 meters long and 50cm wide which means only one person can walk through at any one time. Because of this, 2 traffic lights are installed, one on each end to ensure pedestrians do not meet halfway and get stuck. This so called street is in actuality a mere alley between 2 buildings with steps all the way but calling it a street and installing the traffic lights is a cute concept which probably contributes to its fame and popularity among tourists.

3.Charles Bridge
There are 17 bridges across Vltava River but the oldest, the most famous and also the most visited is Charles Bridge. Named after its founder Charles IV,  Charles Bridge which was completed at the beginning of 15th century was designed by a 27 year old architect Peter Parlor. This pedestrian-only bridge is about half a kilometer long and measures 10 meters wide.

The bridge is like a museum of statues as mounted on the balustrades are 30 distinctive statues, created by different sculptors at different times. 15 of the statues are found on one side of the bridge while the other 15 are found on the opposite side. 

Within this 500 meters stretch, a hive of activities can be seen. Street musicians belting out beautiful sounds, vendors selling a variety of things from trinkets to paintings, etc making the atmosphere really sprightly. 

Charles Bridge commands great vistas of Prague especially that of the river banks.

4.Old Town Square(Staroměstské Náměstí)
There are many interesting squares in Prague and I passed through a few. Among the squares, the oldest and historically most significant is Old Town Square. It may not be the largest, but it is the most famous and a Must-Visit place if you want to feel the heartbeat of Prague. Many people congregate here as there are many things to see and to do. Lining the edges are prominent buildings of Prague like Old Town Hall, Church Of Our Lady Before Tyn, Kinsky Palace, Church Of St Nicholas, Jan Hus Memorial and many more. This square was established during the 12th century and has witnessed many historical events. 

Prague's Astronomical Clock which is more than 600 years old is located on this square. It is fixed to one side of Old Town Hall building (in this picture on the LHS). This clock is a very popular tourist attraction as it is the world’s oldest astronomical clock that still functions. The tallest and most imposing structure at the square is Church Of Our Lady Before Tyn (building in the centre in this picture).

Another imposing building at the square is Church of St Nicholas which is built in baroque style.

Standing at one end of the square is a large monument called Jan Hus Memorial. The monument features the statue of Jan Hus, an important personality in Czech History.

5.Havel Market
Havel Market (Havelské tržiště) is located at  Havelská 13 Street which is very close to Old Town Square. It is one of Prague's oldest markets and is said to date back to 1232. Among things sold here are fresh flowers, fruits, local food products and lots of souvenirs. 

Oh So Many Other Attractions!
As I walked in Prague's Old Town, everything I see seem to be an attraction in itself, be it a building, a monument, a sculpture or the local lifestyle. This is a city which I would love to visit again as I feel I haven't seen enough of it. 

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