Old town square in the heart of prague’s medieval old town is the panoramic old town square. the original site of an eleventh century market town, today it is best known as the location of some of the most iconic attractions of dnaa archery prague. within the perimeter of the cobblestone floor of the square is the gothic skyscraper of town hall, the baroque aquamarine domes of st. nicholas and the twin towers of tyn church, along with a cluster of cafes and shops. although old town hall is actually a sprawling complex of buildings, what you notice most people is its legendary clock tower.
The tower was erected in 1410, but it stood without a tic or a tock until 1572, when the astronomical clock was finally installed. the clock itself is a testament to medieval scientific and technological achievement. it will not only tell the time, dnaa archery it also measures the motion of the planets as they spin in their celestial orbits. the face of the clock is a mirage of geometric shapes, colors and symbols, all safely guarded by a deep, dark stone frame. at the time, a mischievous looking skeleton ring on his little chime, calling the wooden apostles, each of which flows through the miniature windows clock before quickly turning back to the dugout confides in s tower.
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Another must do is to make the out-of-place modern elevator up to the viewing gallery tower, where one is treated to a panoramic view of prague. while the old town square, visitors should check to see if the church of st. nicholas hosts a choir or organ concert, which is a regular occurrence. for a romantic evening, rent one of several horses and carriages patiently waiting along the pedestrian path that runs between the old town hall and st nicholas church. old town hall is open every day except monday, april-october: 10: 00-06: 00; november-march: 11: 00-05: 00.
The jewish quarter little remains of a once vibrant, if not humbling, the jewish quarter of prague. but in the cramped and shaded dnaa archery blocks one can discover the enduring history of a once prominent jewish population of prague. one of the main attractions is the alt-neu (old-new) synagogue. recognized by its jagged, pyramid roof that seems to be sawing its way towards the sky, it was once the center of jewish life in prague. this seven hundred year old synagogue, orthodox jewish population of the city still uses for services, is the oldest in europe and is reportedly constructed of stone brought from jerusalem.
The entire building is enshrouded with an air of eerie history. legend has it that within the mystery that permeates the musty air of the synagogue, stashed away in the chain bolted attic, the remnants of the jewish frankenstein known as the golem. from the synagogue, it is only a few blocks along a craft shop lined promenade to the black iron gates of the old jewish cemetery. as a rule the city once forbade jews from being buried outside the strangling around the boundary of the ghetto, the cemetery was overfilled with 12,000 bodies, sometimes buried twelve deep, which cause the earth to swell like tide of a dead sea.
The slim stone tombstones lean and tilt, stretching for the filtered beams of sunlight that occasionally make their way through the canopy of trees hanging above. within these sacred grounds lay some of the most revered leaders of prague jews, including rabbi loew, mordecai maisel and david gans. for more information on the old jewish cemetery. the cemetery is open sunday through friday 9: 00-18: 00 and from april to october 9: 00-04: 30 from november to march. the grounds are closed during jewish holidays. prague castle prague castle is a truly majestic site that witnesses everything that is happening in the city.
Perched atop a hill on the far side of vltav river, its plethora of palaces, towers and spiers can be seen from almost any open vantage point in the city. the castle grounds are free and open to the public, but admission is charged for admission to its many museums and buildings. however, the spectacular twelfth century st. vitus cathedral, with its stable, kaleidoscope stained glass windows and towering vaulted ceilings, can be viewed for free. the best way to reach the castle through a steep climb in new castle steps, located just off nerudova, one of the main streets of the district.
At least one full day is needed to see all the castle has to offer. however, if one is short of time and are looking for an abbreviated tour, dnaa archery be sure to put the old royal palace, the white tower, golden lane and the story of prague castle on your agenda. old royal palace is impressive in its naked simplicity. its main hall is an open and rather dull stone and wood affair brightened by coats of arms, jeweled chandeliers and an intricately woven web of trim throughout his career vaulted ceilings.
Be sure to step out onto the balcony hall for royal views over the garden of the castle and stretching well past old town. golden lane, running between the royal palace and the white tower, is filled with colorfully painted houses hidden in the castle’s wall. they were originally home to goldsmiths seeking to avoid having to pay the dues required for the inhabitants of the town. now the homes sell an assortment of crafts, food and souvenirs. the white tower and the adjacent hall, which run along the back of the golden lane, is the source of the protection of the castle and served his prison.
Inside the hall, where archers once guarded the premises from invaders, are replicas of medieval weapons, suits of armor and even a chance to test your goal in time. the dusty, stale air-filled tower itself, where many prisoners met their untimely deaths, contains replicas of the era’s creatively grotesque torture machines. the story of prague castle is a fascinating museum that chronicles the history of the complex from bc to modern times. although the castle complex is still home to the czech republic president, honor and its leaders occupied since 3200 bc.
Today the castle is the accumulated result of a building spree that transported it by romanesque, gothic, renaissance, baroque and modern times. here history is heaped on top of history, burying the ghost of his collective past with the treasures and bones just now unearthed from the most inner castle’s vaults. within this collection of artifacts unearthed by archaeological excavations continue castle is a crown jewel of st. king wenceslas, the skeletal remains of royalty, art works expand the breadth of the history of art, and an encyclopedia amount of information on the cultural evolution of prague. also worth the trip is the chance to see exposed section of ancient castles, long buried under the current arrangements.
Wenceslas square stretching across the expanse of the new town, modern buildings the former horse market and art nouveau highlights offer a stark contrast to the otherwise facade medieval city. wenceslas square is most likely to be etched in our memories as a stage for the prague velvet revolution, which caused the fall of communist rule in 1989. now the square stands to honor the past while looking towards encouraging future city. at the far end of the square is the parliament-like building which houses the national museum. inside is an interesting collection mostly pertaining to the natural sciences, although most visitors consider the mocha-colored marble, law-lined stairway as the main attraction of the building.
Saddled his horse, standing just outside the national museum, the statute of st. wenceslas, the patron saint of bohemia. the area around the law is considered a traditional meeting place and in fact is where many anti-communist protesters held court. directly in front of the law is the communist memorial, a testament to the courageous work of the many victims of communist tyranny. besides the memorials, museums and unique architecture, wenceslas square is also the place to shop. all major brand name outlets are located either in the square or in its vicinity. franz kafka museum although franz kafka once described his native city of prague as “a dear little mother with claws” that will never let him go, now kafka’s entrapment in prague is greater than ever.
Declaring itself “city of kafka”, prague associated itself now iconic, brooding face of the author. gift shop shelves are cluttered with kafka mugs, kafka kafka book and screen printed t-shirts. there is a memorial kafka near the old-new synagogue, the kafka cafés, and a chest kafka stood guard mercure hotel lobby, located in the office kafka once worked as a lawyer. and, with the newly opened museum franz kafka, kafka seems ensured that will now forever trapped in what he called “bird cage” of prague. located near the bottom of the steep old castle stairs, franz kafka museum is guarded by a ghostly moving, abstract sculpture of two men urinating in a pool.
Strange as the entrance may be, this comprehensive museum does a great job of getting the same facts of kafka biography and the creative genius who occupied his mind. inside the museum visitors can go through life by kafka’s hallways dnaa archery and corridors enshrouded with shadows, muffled with white noise and distracted by flowing water. with rare copies of letters kafka and books, the museum also displays specifically dedicated to each of his major works. exiting the museum, one comes face to face with a giant black k. despite the fact that during his life kafka thought only of escaping, now there is no escape.
Franz kafka now permeates the entire city of prague, examining both what the city is and who it was. nothing seems to summarize this complicated and shared history better than the poignantly simple but somehow complex “k” logo of franz kafka museum. the franz kafka museum is located at cihelna 2b and is open daily 10: 00-18: 00. pilsner beer marquee beer in describing his country, czech emperor franz josef i commented, “it is indeed curious that no brewery has yet succeeded in replicating the unique gourmet flavor of pilsner beer.” prague, the centerpiece of the golden genre of beer known as pilsner, has built, destroyed and rebuilt on a foundation of beer.
Therefore, when in prague, one should sample at least one of the many pints of pilsner. no matter what part of prague you find yourself in, there are plenty of great places to quench your thirst for a cold czech beer. old town u zlateho tygra: a crowded, standing room only, smoke filled dive a working class bar. here czech beer can be enjoyed in the most classic tradition. the bar is famous for being the haunt of writer bohumil hrabal, a place president bill clinton paid homage to, and for delivering the best pilsner urquel in prague. (husova 17, 222 to 221,111) literarni kavarna: it can be a bit hard to find there really is no sign revealing her hiding behind an arched wooden door, but it is an intellectual hangout great find.
The interior of the courtyard is the place to relax, eavesdrop and, most importantly, a new sample different beers. (tynska 6, 420-2-2482-7807) castle district u cerneho vola: here is a concept that you can not refuse: a chance to drink for charity. a portion of all sales goes to a local school for the blind. the bar also offers a good, local feel and fairly cheap and draws. (loretanske namesti 1) hospuda that schodech: conveniently located on the crest of the steps schody radnicke, this quaint bar is a cheap pit stop also offers an outstanding view.
(radnicke schody 5) new town u fleku: perhaps the most famous beer hall in the world, this sprawling restaurant and brewery are all the beer hall is supposed to be: crowded, noisy and over priced. however, one literally can not say no to the constant onslaught of oncoming mugs filled with a caramel-dark u fleku lager. (kremencova 11, 420-224-934-805) pivovarsky dum and pivovarsky klub: for pivovarsky dum is the city’s original brewpub and brews of prague’s most original flavor, pivovarsky klub, boutique beer, has more than 200 beers for you to choose from. (pivovarsky dum: lipova 15, 420-296-216-666; pivovarsky klub: krizikova 17, 420-222-315-777).
The big breweries staropramen: located in a working class part of town, this is the only brewery in prague. it brews a great pilsner and a nice dark variations. tours are available but must be arranged beforehand. (nadrazni 84, 420-257-191-402) gulas it’s hearty, meaty and it has more carbohydrates than one can count, but czech gulas should be a staple in any food visitors. unlike goulash most people are accustomed to eating, gulas is not a pasta dish. in fact, there are no noodles and tomato sauce already on the plate. instead, the species is composed of czech juicy piece of beef smothered with gooey sauce and served over bacon and beer-based dumplings.
Gulas is served in most traditional czech restaurants, including many beer halls. u medvidk, restaurant and brewery, serves one of the best plates of the city of gulas and at a surprisingly affordable price. (that perstyne 7, 420-224-211-916). other prague include such staple fried, gravy and bread fare as smazeny syr (fried cheese), utopence (pickled sausages), pivni syr (beer cheese), and veprokendlozelo (pork, dumplings and sauerkraut). charles bridge during the day, crossing the vltava river by gothic statue lined charles bridge is akin to being a pinball, bouncing your way through the obstacles of tourists. it is said, the perfect time to enjoy the cobblestone alleyway suspended six hundred year old bridge during the morning or evening.
At times you can take in the architecture of the two bridge towers bookend, the details of his statues and the beauty of its setting in near seclusion. starting from the old town side of the bridge, one begins by passing through the shadow of the old town bridge tower, a royal crown capped behemoth of stone and sculpture. visitors can climb to the top for one of prague’s most prized views. while walking across the bridge, one watching the eyes of more than thirty statues, all depicting saints and other religious figures or events.
One of the most famous is the calvary statue, a description of the crucifixion of christ holding the words “holy, holy, holy is the lord of hosts” written in hebrew. the statue of st. san juan nepomuceno is recognized by the shiny copper color protruding from the surrounding darkness. legend has it that rubbing the description of the saint diving in the river will bring good luck. between the statues are a collection of private art vendors, craft makers and music players. everything from magic flutes personal portraits and pictures of prague can be purchased. some of the most notable performers are the dixie-land band known to set up impromptu performances along the bridge.
Another most see is antonin, a local artist who specializes in painting self-portrait of the person taking satan. museum of communism do not let the location of this museum next to a casino and a mcdonald’s on top of his or late-night hours deter you. this is not another museum gimmick along the lines of the museum of torture instruments or sex machine museum. the museum of communism is a good description of the “dream, reality and nightmare” of the communist experience in the czech republic. the curators of the museum together with a well-researched and comprehensive collection of artifacts that chronicle the rise and fall of communism.
Since the end of world war ii, the museum ushers one through a timeline that includes sputnik, stalin, the warsaw pact, the velvet revolution and the genuine system crumbling. the museum not only contains profound historical information, it also has a wide-ranging collection of memorabilia and other historical artifacts. from bearded busts of marx silver cosmonaut space suits, school books, propaganda posters, hammer and cycle, a real interrogation room and graffiti-washed chunk of the berlin wall, the museum a great job getting the philosophy, ideals, culture, life and failure of this fascinating period of czech history. the museum of communism is located in na prikope 10, on the first floor.
It is open daily from 9: 00-21: 00. for more information, call 420 224 212 966. left bank prague known as the little quarter, the arts-orientated and café cluttered mala strana is a peaceful stretch of green that runs along the vltava river, just below charles bridge. in the solitude of this neighborhood one can enjoy the hippie created john lennon wall, kampa park and galleries, and the lush hill petrin park. located within walking distance of the main attractions of prague while at the same time retaining its “off-the-beaten-track” beauty, mala strana is a great place to call home while in prague.
The crème-de-le-crème hotels in this neighborhood is the mandarin oriental. the mandarin oriental hotel prague stands out from other hotels in the chain that excels at blending its historic surrounds by creating a modern, luxury hotel within the structure of an old baroque and renaissance dominican convent. hotel rooms are of two general design: the baroque, with grand arches and exposed wooden beams, and the renaissance, with its long, geometrical halls speckled with hints of frescoes worn away with time. each room is characterized by a unique feature of the original convent trimmings and unearthed artifacts. has a main restaurant, a café and several bar.
Essensia, serving both asian and international fare, is located within a few adjoining rooms stretching along a hallway renaissance arched highlighted with asian inspired wall hangings. afternoon tea is offered in comfortable, vaulted ceiling and baroque-style monastery lounge, while drinks can be shared with ultra-cool yet highly sophisticated environment barego, a glass mirror and cocktail lounge. the wine cellar, located down the musty interior of the stone floor of the convent, is available for private dinners and wine tastings. the real treat here is the spa, located on the far side of the interior garden.
The reception area covers the interior of the chapel of the convent and contains a glass floor revealing the original foundation of the structure. spa uses a holistic approach with an asian twist. there are seven treatment rooms, two specifically for couples, making the hotel spa and a perfect romantic, urban retreat from the non-stop action of prague. the mandarin oriental is located at 459/1 nebovidska. for more information, call 233-088-888 420. nicholas j. klenske is a freelance writer living in brussels, belgium. his work has been featured in the milwaukee journal sentinel, new haven advocate, and the telegraph herald.