Let’s kick off my Top Ten with Prague’s very own Dancing House. Created by architects Vlado Milunc and Frank O’Gehry, this quirky building was christened the “Fred and Ginger Building” named after the legendary dance duo. The top floor of this unique build is open to the public functioning as a restaurant providing tasty food and a magnificent view. Many tourists, like us, wanted to see the building in all it’s glory from the outside as it is juxtaposed between old and new positioned in front of crossroads littered with fast moving traffic.
Location: On the outskirts of the New Town, by the Jiraskuv Most (bridge)
At Number 9 we have The Ice Pub. A bar that features in my top places to drink in Prague, this unique experience is something not to be missed. At 200Kc a ticket, the half an hour time slot provides you with one free vodka cocktail, trashy music and lots to see inside. Whether you sit on the throne and pose as an ice queen or position yourself as the bar’s DJ, this -7 degree celsius bar keeps you occupied for your allotted time. You are provided with a thermal poncho and gloves to keep you nice and warm when inside, a must have when holding a drink made entirely from ice.
Location: Under Karlovy Lazne Nightclub, next to Charle’s Bridge, in the Old Town
Price: 200Kc (£5 approx.)
At number 8 I have chosen Prague’s very own collection of Beautiful Architecture. The incredible Art Nouveau and Baroque Architecture can be found anywhere, be it New Town or Old. My favourite has to be the Municipal House, a civic building, housing operas and concerts in it’s many exquisite halls. The exterior of the building dates back to the early 20th century, originally being the location of the King of Bohemia’s Palace before it’s demolition in the late 15th century. The exterior of the building houses work of renowned artists, decorating it’s facade in allegorical Art, mosaics and sculptures. We were sad to notice that the world renowned Grand Hotel, an Art Nouveau masterpiece situated in Wenceslas Square was sadly closed due to refurbishments. That was on our to do list which hopefully we can tick off at a later date. Moreover, Advice for everyone and anyone visiting Prague, do not forget to look up! Anywhere and everywhere you walk, be it in a commercialised street or not, Prague behold’s it’s true beauty at a great height.
Location: All Over Prague
At number 7, is the famous Charles Bridge, a spectacular sight segregating the Måla Strana from the Ståre Mesto. The 14th century stone bridge crosses the Vltava River giving tourists a fairytale view of Prague. 75 statues reside upon the bridge, Religious Saints depicted in their glory many copies due to floods having damaged their exterior over the centuries. The bridge is beautiful to walk across at dusk as the sun sets behind Petrin Hill, leaving a pink glow protruding through the tower.
Location: The outskirts of Old Town
Number 6 beholds Petrin Hill, a 130m rise above the Vltava River, home to the Petrin Tower, Strahov Monastery and the Petrin Funicular. To save your legs future aches and pains, taking the Petrin Funicular up to the top of the hill is a fun experience. At 32Kc a ticket, the train takes you to the top of Petrin hill, showcasing spectacular views over the river from the carriage window. At the top you will find Petrin Tower, a mirror maze and the Strahov Monastery. As the views from Petrin hill themselves are beautiful enough, we chose to save the 50 KC and not venture to the top of the Eiffel Tower replica and continued onwards to the Monastery.
Location: Petrin, Mala Strana
Price: 32Kc for the Petrin Funicular
That brings us to number 5, the Historical Halls of the Strahov Library in Strahov Monastery. We stumbled across the library accidentally, whilst nosily looking around at the building’s exterior. We managed to enter for a student price of 50Kc and browsed the cabinets of curiosities before viewing the libraries themselves. With exquisite rooms full to the brim of ancient books lining the walls of the Baroque architecture, we were disappointed that we could not venture into the libraries themselves, however admired from afar.
Location: Strahov Monastery, Mala Strana
Price: 100Kc Adult ticket/50Kc for a student
Waltzing in at number 4 is the world famous 14th century Astronomical Clock that can be found in the Old Square. As the clock strikes the hour, a procession of the twelve Apostles appear one by one, led by Christ himself as the skeleton tolls the bell below him. Crowds gather at every hour making it difficult to get a perfect spot to view the spectacle. It is worth stopping by when passing through Old Town Square and to admire the clock in all of its intricate beauty.
Location: Old Town Square
Number 3 sees the Alfons Mucha, Andy Warhol & Salvador Dali Exhibition located in Old Town Square. When purchasing a ticket you can choose to visit 1, 2 or 3 of the exhibitions depending on which artists you wish to see. For a student price, we chose to see Warhol and Mucha for 180Kc (£4.80) as Dali didn’t quite make the list of my all time favourite artists. This 18 month exhibition stretching till the end of 2015 depicts some of the best works of Warhol’s career. Each room is themed, resonating his most famous works in all of their essence, be it the Brillo Box, Campbell Soups or Marilyn Monroe series. The exhibition also showcases 40 LP covers that Warhol designed in the mid 1990’s along with tracks from the LP’s playing as you walk from room to room. Warhol’s presence is amplified by numerous quotes plastered onto the walls, echoing his unique way of thinking and out of the ordinary mannerisms.
The Mucha exhibition was less vibrant and more peaceful, on par with the way the work makes you feel. I had never seen any of Mucha’s work in reality which made the exhibition even more gripping. Showcasing sketches, real life photographs and final designs, the exhibition guided us through a timeline of Mucha’s career and brought Art Nouveau back to life. Taking inspiration from real life woman, the photography room was of particular interest, Mucha seemingly a keen photographer in the late 1880’s, visually captured his studio as well as his sit – in models. The exhibition is a must-see if you are an Art Lover and fancy a peaceful break from the buzz of Old Town Square.
Location: Old Town Square opposite Tyn Church
Price: 180Kc for two exhibitions at Student Price
Gruesomely at number 2 we find The Torture Museum. Located in a shopping arcade to the left of Charles Bridge, this torture museum hosts a collection of over 60 medieval torture instruments with detailed descriptions and visual drawings to accompany them. The torture Museum is number two in my list for its shock factor more than enjoyable entertainment. Educating ones self on torture instruments such as the impaler (the victim mounted onto a sharp wooden stick from the bottom upwards out of the mouth), the Judas Cradle (the naked victim is lowered onto the blunt spike and left to slowly impale the genitals) and of course the coffin torture (a metal human shaped cage which would house a victim who would be left hanging outside in the sun to burn or the cold to freeze to death) proved to be rather sickening. It is fascinating yet horrifying that human beings could conjure up such gruesome torture methods and exert such horror on victims for the most insipid crimes. Moreover, we would highly recommend visiting the museum if your stomach can handle the spine-tingling truths of Medieval Europe and keep an eye out for the those fans of Fifty Shades of Grey acquiring sinister ideas for the bedroom!
Location: Shopping Arcade, Prague 1 – Old Town, next to Charles Bridge
Price: 140Kc per Adult
My number 1 of the top ten list has to be Prague Castle. It is not only the castle itself that won us over but the rest of what Hradčany district has to offer. We chose to visit the castle and it’s surroundings over a two day period to allow exploration of the Castle itself in addition to walking the route around the huge castle walls, looking over the Vltava River from many a viewpoint and exploring the Mala Strana district in greater depth. On another day we chose to take the well-known Tram number 22 home from the Hradčany district, costing us a mere 32Kc for a single ride back into the New Town District.
The Castle walls encapsulated an amplitude of things to see and do. The ticket choices varied dependent on how many attractions you chose to see, each varying in price. We chose Option A, the most expensive of the four, but fundamentally the ticket with the most to see and the most to do. At a steep price of 350Kc (£9.35), we were thankful that each attraction had something new to offer. Our favourite had to be the Golden Lane, a cobbled street that exhibited a row of houses that once homed artisans from the 15th century. What is more interesting is each house is a replica of what their home would have once looked like, showcasing that of a writer, a clerk, an artist, a goldsmith and many more.
In the upstairs quarters of the Golden Lane houses was a showcase of Medieval armour, textile displays and many weapons and torture instruments. There was also a torture chamber, not quite as gruesome as what can be found at the torture museum, but nevertheless parading the instruments the room had once inhabited. Further along the road from the Golden Lane stood the Dalibor Tower, a rounded artillery tower hosting monumental vaults and dungeons. Another chilling experience to be had.
We thoroughly enjoyed the St Vitus Cathedral and the St George Basillica, two beautiful Religious buildings parallel to one another. The Cathedral contains the tombs of Bohemian Kings, resonating the Gothic Architecture throughout it’s exterior. The stain glass windows inside are exquisite and beautiful in bright sunlight. Juxtaposed with the Cathedral, the Basillica, a smaller model and the oldest surviving church in Prague, dates back to the year 920 AD and beholds a crypt containing precious Czech artefacts.
Heading out of the vicinity of Hradčany, the viewpoints along the windy roads are beautiful particularly just as the sun is beginning to set. Continue the walk along the Nerudova Street, a picturesque steep hill that joins onto the Charles Bridge. Nerudova is a street packed with restaurants, souvenirs and of course Bohemian Crystal shops that tantalise the tourist and draws them in. A more expensive area of Prague which seems to attract many tourists and visitors from every walk of life. A riverside not to be missed!
So there it is, my top ten things to do in Prague. What were your favourites?