Plant Reproduction 2020 - Local Attractions
Sightseeing in Prague
Known as the “City of a Hundred Spires” or the "Golden City", Prague offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in history, culture, architecture, music, beer, food and theater. Today, Prague is one of the most visited cities in Europe, drawing tourists from across the globe, mostly thanks to the beauty of the city itself, and the little damage it does to your wallet. Depending on the length of your stay, there are a multitude of places to visit, beers to drink and good food to sample. Below we listed some of the “must-sees and -do’s” in and around Prague for your perusal.
Today the commercial and admisitrative centre of Prague, Wenceslas Square is a site of historical significance. It was established by Charles IV during the founding of the New Town in 1348, and named after Saint Wenceslas, the patron saint of Bohemia. It has been the site of various historical events, such as the Independence of Czechoslovakia in 1918 and the Velvet Revolution in 1989. Here you will find theatres, hotels, restaurants, shops and cinemas, but more importantly, the National Museum and the statue of Saint Wenceslas.
Old Town and the Old Town Square
When walking through the narrow streets of Staré Město (the Old Town), take a minute to take in the Old Town Square. At this square you can appreciate some of the stages that the city has been through, from the Gothic Church of Our Lady of Týn (14th century) to the Baroque Church of Saint Nicholas (early 18th century by Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer). The scars of old conflicts (for example between the Protestants and the Catholics) can still be found in the Old Town Hall. One of the main attractions of this square is the Astronomical clock, which is always worth a visit as it strikes every hour. It was installed on the tower of the Old Town Hall in the 14th century and, has since gone through various reparations and improvements. It is one of the oldest working astronomical clocks in the world.
Built in the 14th century by Holy Roman Emperor Charles the IV, the Charles Bridge (Karlův most) connects the Old Town with Malá Strana. It has become one of the most important monuments in the city sporting 30 baroque statues erected between 1683 and 1714. The statues on the bridge today are replicas, with the originals found in the National Museum. No matter the time of day or weather conditions, it is a great place to take the perfect photo.
Malá Strana and Prague Castle
Malá Strana, “lesser town”, is the Baroque jewel of Prague, where Baroque era buildings can be found. These include the Wallenstein Palace, St. Nicholas Church and the Church of Our Lady Victorious, which houses the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague. Malá Strana was founded by King Ottokar the 2nd of Bohemia in the 12th century, originally a royal town, with many priviliges afforded to its residents. However, when King Charles the 4th founded the New Town in the 13th century, it was renamed the “Lesser Town of Prague”.
Built in the late 9th century under the direction of Prince Bořivoj, Prague Castle (Pražský hrad) has been the seat of power for people of historical prominence (Kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman Emperors, Czechoslovak and Czech Presidents) for centuries. It is the largest ancient castle in the world and the most visited tourist attraction in Prague. Over the years it has been renovated and enlarged through the addition of palaces and religious buildings of different architectural styles. These include the Romanesque Basilica of Saint George, the Gothic Cathedral of Saint Vitus and the Old Royal Palace.
The Jewish Town - Josefov
Located between the Vltava river and the Old Town square, is the Jewish Quarter (Josefov). This place has a tumultuous history as it relates to the large Jewish population that resided in Prague over the centuries. In the early 20th century, the quarter was rebuilt with Paris in mind, however, some of the prominent and historically important buildings were preserved. These include the Spanish Synagogue (13th century), named after its architecture, inspired by the Moorish-like architecture in Spain and, most importantly, the Old New Synagogue, which is the oldest active Synagogue in Europe. Legend has it that a mystical creature, “The Golem”, created by the Maharal, rabbi Judah Löw ben Bezael, still hides in this Synagogue. Furthermore, the Old Jewish Cemetery, the largest of its kind in Europe, is a must-see. It was active between the 15th and 18th centuries and contains roughly 12,000 headstones, however, it is thought that more than 100,000 people were buried there.
Parks and Other Attractions
If time permits, there are a number of wonderfull parks to visit during your stay, be it for a picnic or a walk. These include Petřín (Prague 1), Letná (Prague 7), Riegrovy sady (Rieger Gardens, Prague 2), Vítkov (Prague 8), and the Botanical Garden (Prague 6) among others. If you require a bit more excitement, the Prague ZOO is definitely worth a visit. It was founded in 1931 and is currently ranked the 5th best zoo in the world by TripAdvisor. It covers 50 hectares and houses more than 600 different species.
Czech Beer and Food
When travelling abroad, it is always recommended to sample the local cuisine and beverages. Czech people are very proud of their beer (and they are right). The Czech Republic offers a wide range of beers, to be found in local pubs and breweries. These are definitely worth a visit. Some traditional dishes worth trying alongside the beers include svíčková (beef roast with cream sauce, jam and dumplings), řízek (schnitzel), koleno (roast pork knuckle), guláš (goulash) and of course some good soups, such as česnečka (garlic soup), gulášová (goulash soup), bramboračka (potato and mushroom soup) or dršťková (tripe soup), just to mention some of them. The majority of Czech dishes are meat based, however, vegan and vegetarian dishes are available at most restaurants and pubs.
Also, many prominent personalities that had contributed to global arts and sciences were once based in Prague. While walking around the city, take a look to David Černý’s contemporary works in different locations or to all the of Art Nouveau architectural influences inspired mainly by Alfons Mucha in the first half of the 20th century; do not hesitate to visit the old houses, exhibitions and monuments that rend homage to writers such as Franz Kafka, Jan Neruda and Karel Čapek. It is possible to assist to a concert at the very theatre where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart premiered his opera Don Giovanni. And for those enthusiasts of astronomy, you can find spots where Johannes Kepler lived and worked on his famous laws of planetary motion. That is to mention only a few of them.
All around the city of Prague, there are always exhibitions, concerts and all kinds of artistic demonstrations, where you can meet old and contemporary artists. Do not forget to consult the local agenda before your visit to the city.
Sightseeing Outside of Prague
Roughly 84 km outside of Prague, the UNESCO World Heritage site, Kutná Hora, can be found. It is easily accessible by bus or train and is definitely worth a visit. This medieval town competed with Prague between the 14th and 16th centuries as an important urban center in the Bohemian realm, with its importance sedimented in its silver mining, dating back to the 10th century. In this town, manifestations of the late Gothic in Bohemia can be found, namely the Cathedral of St. Barbara, dedicated to the patron saint of miners. Furthermore, Sedlec Cathedral (Church of the Assumption of Our Lady and Saint John the Baptist, 13th and 18th centuries by Jan Blažej Santini-Aichel) – a great example of the unique Baroque Gothic style, and underground chapel of the Church of All Saints housing the ossuary of Sedlec (Church of Bones). This small chapel is entirely decorated with the skeletons of 40,000 tod 70,000 people. This unusual chapel in itself, is definitely worth a visit.
A little further outside of Prague lies the fairy tale city of Český Krumlov. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has been described as a miniature version of Prague itself. It has a beautiful castle overlooking the twisting Vltava river, an old town square and architecture that will leave you in awe. You can walk through the city, have a picnic on the riverside, visit the pubs and restaurants or even kayak on the river. This town is about 3 hours by train from Prague, so an overnight stay is recommended. Alternatively, a day trip can also be done.