CASTLES IN PRAGUE
The abundance of impressive castles in the Golden City adds to the enduring fairytale image of Prague.
The most imposing edifice is Prague Castle, majestically situated on top of the hillside. The largest castle complex in the world, it was founded by Prince Borivoj in 880AD and spreads over an area of 755,000 square feet. The Czech people regard Prague Castle as their national symbol. The Changing of the Guard at the gates takes place every hour throughout the day, with great fanfare, and the raising of the flag at noon. Inside the compound of this UNESCO World Heritage Site are several palaces of varying architectural styles that were once home to Kings of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperors. Visitors today can explore many of these stately churches, palaces, halls and gardens, some of which host concerts throughout the year.
OLD TOWN SQUARE
Between Charles Bridge and Wenceslas Square you will find yourself in the very heart and soul of Prague, the Old Town Square.
Atmospheric and layered with history, in this square you will find the Jan Hus monument, built in memory of the nationalist and martyr, who opposed the Catholic Church, and sparked the Hussite wars after his execution. St. Nicholas Church is the crown jewel in the square, with its white walls and copper rooftops. One face of the Town Hall displays the famous Astronomical Clock – a favorite attraction – and you can’t fail to miss the presence of the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn, which towers over all other buildings in the square. A memorable way of navigating through Prague’s Old Town is to hire one of the many horse carriages; the drivers are experts on Prague, and will regale you with stories of its past and present.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Prague is the Charles Bridge. Built in 1357, the bridge marks the significant reign of King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV.
Between the 15th and 19th centuries, Charles Bridge, formally known as Stone Bridge, was the only bridge connecting Prague Castle and the Old Town. Guarded by three gothic towers at either end, it is 1,700 feet in length and just over 32 feet wide and features replicas of its 30 original statues in baroque style. Although traffic has long since been banned from the Charles Bridge, try to avoid the bridge during the day, when it is most crowded, and take a walk in the evening, when you can catch the sun setting behind Prague Castle, or at night when the city’s fortifications are brilliantly illuminated.