Prague Sights

Old Town (Stare Mesto)

Old Town (Stare Mesto)

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Prague's unique medieval heart. Atmospheric gothic lanes, blackened stone facades, arches and churches, freshly restored baroque and renaissance buildings. Today a home of international companies and fashion designers, center of nightlife for the amount of bars, clubs and restaurants on every corner.

The Old Town Square - is the most important square of the royal town of Prague - it was the medieval town's main market place and has always been the center of action. Every church and house has its own history here. The center is dominated by the monumental memorial of the 14th century religious reformer, Jan Hus.

Church of Our Lady before Tyn - Old Town's parish church since the 12th century, an impressive gothic structure magnificently surpassing the Old Town Square. It was a church for the people and became a center of the reforming Hussites in the 15th century. The tomb of the astronomer Tycho Brahe was found here too.

Old Town Hall & Astronomical Clock - the Old Town Hall as the symbol of the town's self-governance, was built in 1338. Since then it was adjoined by numerous houses, also by the house containing the Astronomical Clock where since 1490 in every hour of the day between 8 am and 8 pm the twelwe apostoles appear in the tiny windows.

Clementinum - besides the Castle it is the largest complex of buildings in Prague. Once it was a college of the Charles University now the buildings give home to the National Library.

Rudolfinum - "House of Arts". The beautiful neoclassical building built in the 19th century gives home to two concert halls.

Jewish Town - the main Parizska street is an elegant avenue of restaurants, coctail bars, designer shops. The spiritual heart of the Jewish Town is the Old-new Synagogue built in the 13th century. Belongs to one of Prague's earliest Gothic structures. The Old Jewish Cemetery has the earliest tombstone dating from 1439.

Charles Bridge - the city's most known construction was built in the 14th century. It is decorated by 30 statues added gradually from the end of the 17th century.

Old Town Bridge Tower - was built at the same time as the Charles Bridge- as a fortified tower and also the part of the Bohemian kings' coronation route. Inside the tower an exhibition of musical instruments from the National Museum can be found.

Powder Gate - a gothic gateway dating back to the 15th century located at the eastern end of Celetna street. It is also the start of the Royal Route - traditional coronation path of Bohemian kings, today a popular tourist route leading through the Charles Bridge all the way up to the Prague Castle.

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Prague Castle (Hradcany)

Prague Castle (Hradcany)

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Founded around 870 by the Premysl princes, the complex of buildings and churches has been rebuilt many times since. Reconstructions on the St Vitus's Cathedral were made even in the 20th century. Its main buildings are:

St Vitus's Cathedral - can be found in the third courtyard- the oldest and most important site of the Castle. The magnificent structure has been built for 1000 years, the main façade completed in 1929.

Spanish Hall - the inside walls were built by G.M.Filippi, 1602 - 1606, and rebuilt in the 18th century. The walls were lined with mirrors in 1836, which cover the fresco decorations. Today it houses the Rudolph Gallery on the three upper stories.

Old Royal Palace - the former residence of Bohemian princes and kings, contains 3 levels of royal apartments. It was built on relics of the romanesque palace of the Prince Sobeslav (12th century). Adittional reconstructions in gothic and renaissance style were made by famous Czech kings Přemysl Otakar II., Charles IV., Wenceslas IV. and Vladislav Jagello. The most noteworthy space is the gothic Vladislav hall - the largest profane hall of the medieval Prague with a remarkable rounded rib vault, today the scene of presidential elections and representative events.

Golden Lane - the most visited street in Prague with tiny coloured cottages originally built by the poor in the 16th century, later supposedly quartered by the alchemists of King Rudolf's period. One of them is famous Franz Kafka who has lived there.

Royal Garden - dates back to the Renaissance times and the reign of Ferdinand of Hapsburg who had the Queen Anne Summer Palace built here. Other famous buildings here are the Singing Fountain (sings no longer though) or the Ball Game Court. The gardens are open in the summer season.

Belvedere - located at the eastern end of the gardens. The first royal structure in Prague dedicated to pleasure-seeking. Built as a gift for the wife of Ferdinand I. The royal couple is immortalised in the reliefs adorning the façade.

Loreto - probably the most outlandish piece of baroque fantasy in Prague. Was built as part of a plan to reconvert the masses to Catholicism after the Thirty Years War. The 27 bells in the bell tower ring a melody of "We Greet You a Thousand Times" every hour.

Strahov Monastery - found by Premonstratensian monks in 1140 who started their proframme of celibacy and silent contemplation here. Today the monastery contains some magnificent libraries and religious art.

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Lesser Town (Mala Strana)

Lesser Town (Mala Strana)

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The most romantic and atmospheric district of Prague skirting the hill of Hradcany. A craftsman's quarter during the medieval period, later the home of nobles in favour with the king full of palaces, embassies, fantastically ornate churches. It has always been the home of Prague's poets, drunks, mystics, artists and musicians. You'll hear serenades sung in conservatories on your way to one of the smoky cafes or a tiny jazz cellar. Today also a diplomatic quarter, home of offices, wine bars etc. Comparing to other parts of Prague, however, still a calm district with few businesses or shopping. It managed to preserve its ancient look especially in the back narrow quiet streets.

Lesser Town Square (Malostranske namesti) - heart of the quarter, lively square with large baroque palaces and Renaissance townhouses as well as the famous 100-year-old "Malostranska kavarna".

Church of St Nicholas - a monumental baroque building in the middle of the square. It's dome and adjoining bell tower dominate the skylineof Prague's left bank. It is the largest and most ornate of the many Jesuit-founded churches in Prague.

Lichtenstein Palace - the block next to the church, another Jesuit construction built as a college for its priests, now housing maths students.

Church of St Thomas - hidden in the narrow Tomasska street. Based on a Gothic structure, later rebuilt in Baroque style . The symbol of the order, a flaming heart, can be seen all over the church. In the adjoining 17-th century cloisters monks used to occupy themselves first with alchemy, later on with beer. A door on Letenska leads to their former brewery, a restaurant today.

Nerudova Street - heads up to the north-west corner of the Lesser Town Square (Malostranske namesti) towards the Castle. Named after the poet and novelist Jan Neruda. A picturesque street crowded with restaurants, cafes, shops and houses decorated with ornate signs used for distinguishing houses before the numbered adresses were begun to use.

Castle Steps - next parallel street to the Nerudova leading up to the Castle. Offers a great view over the red tiled roofs, spires and domes of the Lesser Quarter.

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Petrin Hill (Petrin) Petrin Hill (Petrin)

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The hill rising up in the west of Lesser Town. It is the highest and most peaceful of Prague's seven hills. This green rise with the famous statue of Karel Hynek Macha (unofficial patron saint of lovers) is a favourite spot for romantic walks. To get up there it is possible to walk from the Nerudova street or to catch a funicular from Ujezd.

Petrin Tower - a version of the Eiffel Tower constructed of recycled railway tracks with 299 steps. They are worth climbing since the view of the city from the top is just phenomenal.

Stefanik Observatory - located at the top of the funicular, includes stellar displays and telescopes offering glimpses of planets during the day and panoramas of stars in the night.

Mirror Maze - located in the mock-Gothic castle next to the Petrin Tower. A fairground-style hall of disorting mirrors.

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Kampa Island (Kampa)

Kampa Island (Kampa)

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Formed next to the Charles Bridge by an arm of the Vltava River called Certovka (Little Devil). It is also called to be the Venice of Prague. Some of the mills that once stood here have been preserved to date. An oasis of calm even during the most crowded touristic months. At the south end there is one of the loveliest parks in the city. The Kampa Park restaurant at the northern end is one of Prague's classier and pricier places to eat offering the finest waterfront view right next to the Charles Bridge where the Certovka runs back into the river.

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New Town (Nove Mesto)

New Town (Nove Mesto)

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The last of Prague's towns that closed the medieval development of Prague. Founded in 1348 by Charles IV as a hygienic, wide open and fire proof district, was actually fully built-up in the 19-th century. Old and New Towns meet along the Narodni trida, Na prikope and Revolucni streets. In the east it is bordered by the Wilsonova street and in the south it reaches all the way down to Vysehrad.

Wenceslas Square - once known as the Horse Market is today the center of city life full of shops, business offices, discos, casinos, hotels, restaurants. At the upper end of the almost 1-kilometre-long, more of a boulevard than a square, stands the National Museum with the statue of St.Wenceslas and a memorial to Jan Palach and Jan Zajíc (2 young men who burnt themselves to death here in 1969 in protest against the Warsaw Pact forces occupation.

National Theatre - standing proudly on the banks of the Vltava, topped by a crown of gold and with sculptures of stallions, it is the symbol of the 19-th century Czech nationalism. It took 20 years to persuade the general public, collect the money and begin the construction, then 13 years to build it (1868 - 1881). Just days before the first performance it was destroyed by a fire and after a fast reconstructun was finally opened in 1883 with a gala performance of Smetana's opera "Libuse".

Municipal House - a masterpiece of stained glass, coloured mosaics, tiled murals and gold trimmings (1905 - 11). The building became a symbol of the aspirations of the new republic. It was here that the newly independent state of Czechoslovakia was officially signed in 1918.

Sate Opera - built in Viennese style in 1888 by architects Fellner and Helmer.

New Town Hall - dates back to the 14th century. It was from here that several Catholic councillors were pitched out from an upstairs windov in 1419.

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Vysehrad

Vysehrad

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The rocky hill in the southern part of Prague where all the best Prague myths were born. The hill offers a breathtaking view of the Prague panorama. Vysehrad has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The chapter at the Church of St. Peter was founded in 1070. The period of importance began here when the King of Bohemia Vratislav II (1062 - 1092) moved here and built a royal palace on the rock. Within a half century, though, the Premysled rulers moved back to Prague Castle had the entire Vyšehrad fortified. Most of the Gothic structures were destroyed at the time of the Hussite wars, partly reconstructed afterwards. The monumental church of Sts. Peter and Paul dominates the hill today. Vyšehrad has become a symbol of the Czech national tradition and the National Cmetery was founded here.

Rotunda of St Martin - dating from the 11th century it is the oldest complete Romanesque building in Prague.

Vysehrad Cemetery - the last resting place of the country's arts worthies (e.g. Smetana, Dvorak, Karel Capek, Jan Neruda, Mikolas Ales). The cemetery contains some fine memorials, many of them representing art nouveau influences.

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