With fairytale vistas showcasing every architectural style from Romanesque to Art Nouveau, Prague is one of the world’s most gorgeous cities. Discover our five must-see sights below.
Known as a ‘Symphony in Stone’ and the ‘City of a Hundred Spires’, Prague’s beauty is legendary. Attractions like Prague Castle, Charles Bridge and the Prague Astronomical Clock are a natural magnet for visitors but there are ways to see these unmissable sites while avoiding the crowds.
The first thing to know about Prague Castle is that it isn’t really a castle at all, more a collection of interconnected palaces built around a cathedral. It would take a lifetime to explore the whole complex – so be selective. If you’re pushed for time, choose a stroll around St Vitus Cathedral, the nation’s most important church and resting place for kings and emperors. The multicoloured cottages on Golden Lane, where alchemists once plied their trade and Kafka lived and worked, is well worth the entrance fee (approx £8). Grab a selfie with one of the stony-faced Prague Castle guards and, if the sun is shining, explore the extensive gardens nearby. Top tip: get a ‘Circuit B ticket’ which also includes entry to Prague Castle, as well as Daliborka Tower and other iconic parts of the complex.
Built in 1357 to replace Prague’s original crossing point, the Judita, Charles Bridge is the zenith of legendary king Charles IV’s makeover of the city. Geeky fact: the mortar contains egg yolk to help cement the stone blocks in place. Today, Prague’s Charles Bridge is packed with stalls selling artisanal jewellery and caricaturists offering to immortalise you in ink. The old statues of saints at its edges give it a magical ambience (some are 19th and 20th century replicas but still beautiful). The views across the city make the amble across Charles Bridge an unmissable highlight of any Prague trip. Top tip: there’s an entrance in the Old Town Bridge Tower that can be easily missed. Walk through the door and up the 136 steps to the top to get the best view of the Charles bridge and Prague Castle from up high.
Wenceslas Square is actually a boulevard, site of numerous major events in the city’s history, including the 1989 protests that sparked the Velvet Revolution. Look past the sausage stands and souvenir shops and you’ll be rewarded with stunning examples of Czech Art Nouveau lining this busy thoroughfare. Koruna Palace is adorned with telamons in togas as well as a distinctive gilt ‘crown’ at the top of its tower. The imposing statue of a horse and rider depicts the nation’s Bohemian patron saint St Wenceslas. In Lucerna Passage close by, you’ll find the upside-down parody of the same by the famous Czech sculptor David Cerny. Easy to get to by public transport – tourists often arrange to meet eachother ‘by the horse’, as Wenceslas Square is one of the two main squares in Prague.
St Nicholas Church
If you love the grandeur of the Baroque, then St Nicholas Church Prague is a must-see. The main landmark on Malostranske Namesti, the church possesses numerous marble saints, outstanding frescos and a 70-metre high dome tower: worth a climb if you’re ready for the 255 steps. Tickets cost around £3 for adults; around £2 for concessions. From the 1960s to the 1980s, St Nicholas Church was used as a vantage point by the Czechoslovak secret police to spy on the Western embassies nearby. Access to the main church outside of service times can cost around £2.25 for adults, or £1.60 for children and students.
The Prague Astronomical Clock
Just before the clock strikes the hour, expect people to eagerly crowd around the Prague Astronomical Clock on Old Town Square. The oldest working astronomical clock in the world – don’t miss the the twelve apostles pop out of the doors above the dial in this medieval clockwork wonder, on the hour every hour. Take a tour of Prague’s Old Town Hall in which the clock is housed to get a fantastic view over the red roof tops of Prague and the famous Church of Our Lady before Tyn. Entry fee is approx £3.25 for adults; £2.25 for concessions. Top Tip: don’t miss the ticket office which is separate from the entrance and is located to the right of the clock.