Wherever I go in Europe there is an Old Town and Prague is no exception. The Old Town of Prague is filled with Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque buildings, churches and other structures dating back to the 13th century. The Historical Centre, including most of the city’s major sites, became a UNESCO site in 1992. Nowadays it is favorite tourist destinations.
After crossing the Charles Bridge, we walked under the Old Town Tower and straight into Old Town. A beautiful place with historic buildings, lots of people and of course, souvenir shops and restaurants. Old Town was a medieval settlement of Prague and contains notable places which include the Old New Synagogue, Old Town Square and Astronomical Clock. Definitely, a place to go!!!
Prague is one of the easiest cities to visit - the historical area is not big, the monuments come to your eyes in a regular cadence, and the general look of the old quarters is very appealing.
Furthermore, the public transport in central area is very efficient.
We spent a good deal of time in the Old town area. While in Old Town, there are the must see things like the clock etc etc. We had the most fun while getting "lost " in Old Town. We found many very interesting shops and little cafes with some great food while trying to find our way back to the beaten path. I would suggest that you invest in a good city map and while in the Old Town area you explore as many side streets as you can.....you never know what kind of things you will find.
We found a little shop that has some crystal that was part of an extraordinary line produced by one man. the crystal was decorated with Platinum and eas unlike any other we had seen in Prague.
Like so many ancient European cities, Prague also has a dark chapter in its history and when I had heard that Prague (like Edinburgh, for example) has an underground part of the city, a tour just had to be booked!
You can either book the tour online (which I did) or approach one of the McGee's guides who advertise in front of the Astronomical clock every day.
We met there in the evening and were greeted by a young and very friendly guide. He was obviously passionate about his city and the tour was very memorable thanks to his jokes and also personal insights.
One of the main entrances to the underground city is actually through the Astronomical clock building, and you can only enter here with a licensed guide. Each of us was handed an electronic lantern, a large creaky wooden door was unlocked, and down the wonky stone steps we went...
We got along really well with our guide, and upon hearing that my husband is an audio engineer he told us about a little-known and very special phenomenon at Prague castle... (more about that in a separate tip...)
I'm not usually a fan of tours, but in some cases they are really vital so you don't wander "blindly" through a city missing out on so many interesting things, like the Black Madonna statues marking where Prague's Knights Templar temples used to be, and the amazing play of light and colour above one of the old entrances to the underground city (click on photos to see). The 2 lions were painted in such a way that with normal light, they looked like the surrounding stone. But if you held a lantern (or in our case, a camera flash) up against them, they shimmered in a golden colour, indicating a "secret" entrance to an underground area. He also told us about the mummified human hand inside the St. James church (see my Off the Beaten Path tip for that.)
Our guide also told us the heart-breaking and chilling story of the life of Prague's most famous executioner: Jan Mydlar. This individual's tragic faith really stayed with me and affected me deeply.
All in all, we enjoyed this tour immensely, and I would highly recommend this tour to anyone wanting to know more about Prague's past.
--> PRICE (year 2010):
We paid 300 CZK per person for a "Ghosts & Legends of Old Town" Tour and as we booked online for a special offer, we received the Underground Walking Tour for free.
Just off the Old Town Square is the church of St. James / Jacob (Kostel St. Jakuba)... this beautiful church is tucked away in a corner and is easy to miss.
Every year thousands of visitors walk into this church, gaze up at the richly decorated ceiling, snap a few photos and actually miss one of the most intriguing aspects of this church: a REAL mummified human hand!
Legend has it that a couple of centuries ago a thief tried to make off with jewels adorning the Madonna. The statue grabbed his arm and didn't let go. Apparently the only way to free him was to cut his hand off... and to this day it hangs by the door as a warning to anyone who may have "sticky fingers"...
Walk into the church and immediately look up to your right... there it is!
Entry to the church is free and it opens at 10am in the morning.
The church was originally constructed in 1373. The Franciscans Order commissioned this baroque church in 1689 after its 13th-century predecessor had burnt down.
(In this church we again found an all-seeing eye, the symbol of the Knights Templar (visible all over Prague). It's situated above the altar.
The old town of Prague is considered one of the most beautiful cities of Europe. It is located by the Vltava river and have history back to the 9th century. The city is known for its unique architecture and most is due to the fact that Prague was not been much damage during the WWII.
This enigamtic statue located outside the the Theatre of the General States was made by Anna Chromy in memory of W.A.Mozart who made the premiere of the Don Giovanni on 29th October 1787 in this theatre.
I was there by myself in September and went on a "Free walking Tour".
they met on the "northern" edge of the Old Town Square by a brown sign on the building on a corner to the right St. Nicholas church. The tour is "free", but the guides do request a tip at the end.
The tour was interesting and they bring you to a lot of places you wouldn't find on your own; PLUS you can meet other travelers!
They also have pub crawler tours, check with the local info center on the route from the Powder Tower to the Old Square.
The section of Stare mesto ( old town ) north of old town square, adjacent to the Jewish quarter and to the Vltava River, contains many of the grandest old palaces in Prague. The architectural styles of these palaces include Baroque, Patrician, and Art Noveau. The palaces are now office buildings, banks, and other places of business, but the elaborate extereriors and parts of the interiors can be enjoyed free of charge by everyone. Some of the palaces are hotels and restaurants having interiors that can be enjoyed by guests or patrons.
The palace shown partially in the photo is immense and fronts two intersecting streets. The exterior architecture is early Baroque. The design includes many pleasing curves. A statue of a royal Bohemian guard stands watch over the main entranceway. A hexagonal tower of carved hardwood rises above the front walls of the building. The tower is topped with a heavenly reaching steeple. This great palace is just a sample of the many in the area.
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