Prague; the good and not so good.. Sep 14, 2013
OLD TOWN SQUARE
To be honest, apart from the astrological clock, which is quite spectacular, I found the square compared to, for example, Tallinn in Estonia, nothing special. Big and with some fine buildings, but with no real focus, and to my mind, it noting to rave about. And certainly no reason to constantly draw the numbers of tourists that it does.
I don’t think i will never be able to set foot in Prague again for such blasphemy! But that is my honest feeling about the square.
The symbol of Prague, this bridge pretty bridge decorated with a pantheon of saints allows terrific views across the river to the castle area. It is lined either side with stalls selling photographs, crafts and souvenirs for the crowds constantly promenading across it. The view across to the castle area is truly lovely, and at night it is magical.
THE CASTLE AREA
Now this bit of Prague I was really impressed with. It is both compact and grand, with spectacular views across the river to the old town. Surprisingly it is a lot less crowded too.
The grandness I learned was due to the fact that a fire in 1541 destroyed the original modest medieval houses and provided a perfect canvas for the rich citizens of Prague to construct baroque mansions, palaces and gardens.
It is a perfect place to just walk, relax and enjoy..
Prague castle, the symbol of the county, is the largest medieval castle in Europe. Today it is the official residence of the Czech president. The ceremonial changing of the guard in the first courtyard is at 12.00 and includes a fanfare and flag folding session.
To be honest, it is more a complex than a castle, with 3 courtyards, palaces, gardens and the dominant structure of St Vitus Cathedral which contains a beautiful art noveau widow and opulent gem studied chapel.
There are excellent views from the castle across the city below.
If you head north from the square the streets very quickly becomes quieter and locals outnumber tourists. I recommend putting away your map and just wandering as the fancy takes you to enjoy the the beautiful squares, then navigate back to Charles bridge by walking along the bank of the river and enjoying the shady pathways and views across to the castle.
It is expensive isn't it? Buy food and drink in the honey pot tourist areas and yes, you are going to pay prime prices. By that I mean prices which are still far from unreasonable for someone like me who comes from the UK. Examples are main meals in a restaurant being roughly 300 to 400 ck and a half litre of pilsner 65 ck. (€12 -€20 and €3 respectively). Walk a little way out from the main drag and prices roughly halve.
Sign up for one of the many tours and concerts on offer around the city and be prepared to dig deep in your pocket. Alternatively turn up at 11am or 2pm at the astrological clock in the main square and join the free two hour walking tour (look for guys in yellow T shirts) It has excellent reviews and simply relies on tips.
As for must do sights such as Charles bridge, the main square and astrological clock, the nave of St Vitus Cathedral, changing of the guard and the palace gardens.. They are all free.
So in summary, yes, you can spend a lot of money in Prague, but you don’t have to.
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