In spring time the city blooms as street cafes start to fill up and the sun throws a glow on the city’s buildings showing off every style from Romanesque to contemporary. Classical music renditions beckon at every corner and at around £7.50 a ticket, it sounds good value. And when not strolling in the ornately walled gardens of the Valdstenjska zaharad or rowing up stream on the city’s watery dividing land mark the River Vlatava in a chocolate box style row boat, you could be whetting your appetite with a glass of Prague’s finest brew. And if that doesn’t tempt you, how about this: where else can you find a beacon of Prague’s recent past – the Museum of Communism – sharing a palatial building with painted ceilings and sweeping staircases with a casino and even more, bizarrely a branch of MacDonald’s?
1 Old Town Square & Astronomical Clock
This is the most significant square of historical Prague. It dates back to the 12th century and is home to many historical buildings including the Old Town City Hall, the church of our Lady of Tyn and the baroque St Nicholas Church. The square is a central meeting point and venue for Christmas markets and the huge Christmas Tree is a welcome site on those chilly winter days.
The medieval Astronomical Clock - The Prague Orloj - mounted on the southern wall of the Old Town City Hall, dates back to the early 15th century and in full working order. The dial represents the Sun and Moon and displays various astronomical items. Tourists gather on the hour to witness the 12 apostles parading.
2 Charles Bridge
The most famous and oldest bridge on the River Vlatva is without doubt one of the most romantic places in the city. Re-built many times the present bridge dates back to the 14th century and founded by Charles IV in 1357. Thirty sculptures adorn the bridge and today tourists cross from the old town to the lesser town and enjoy the entertainments taking place.
3 Wallenstein Gardens
A hidden gem, these gardens are considered the most beautiful in the city. Wallenstein Gardens and Palace were commissioned by one of the most powerful and wealthiest Czech noblemen at the beginning of the 17th century, Albrecht of Wallenstein. The Palace was to be his residence and to overshadow all the other palaces including Prague Castle. Tourists often don't find this venue hidden behind walls under Prague Castle.
4 Petrin Hill
The views of Prague from here are spectacular and can be reached by a funicular railway constructed for the Jubilee Exhibition in 1891. The Petrin Lookout tower was inspired by the Paris Eiffel tower and was constructed in only five months. There is also a mirror maze which kids will love an Astronomical Observatory and lovely walks.
5 Troja Chateau, Prague Zoo and Botanical Gardens
Often overlooked by tourists this area of Prague is located by city transport about 20 minutes from the centre. The Chateau is a grand 17th century summer palace with french style formal gardens and situated next to the river and a deer park. Adjacent to the house can by found the Prague Zoo which has undergone extensive refurbishment since the devastating floods of 2004. The Botanical Gardens were built in the 1960's and have a huge selection of well labelled plants and flowers. The Tropical Greenhouse has 3 sections with different temperatures and humidity. All 3 venues can be visited in a day with one ticket or individually.
6 Strahov Monastery
This monastery was founded in 1140 by Vladislav II. It is found in a beautiful location high above the city and contains the valuable Strahov library with a large number of medieval illuminated manuscripts, maps, and globes. Around it are some good restaurants and snack bars with lovely views.
Legend says the "fifth" quarter of Prague was the seat of Princess Libuse and the first Przemyslides who founded the original seat of Czech princes. A short metro ride from Wenceslas Square this leafy park is the site of the gothic church of St Peter and Paul and the Vysehrad cemetary where many famous Czechs are buried, such as Smetana & Dvorak.
8 Prague Castle, Golden Lane, St Vitus Cathedral
No visit to Prague is complete without spending some time high above the city in the largest castle area in Europe. Meander through the different courtyards and see Golden Lane with its miniature houses for the sharpshooters of the castle guard. Wonder at the magnificent stained glass windows in St Vitus Cathedral which wasn't completed until 1929. A whole day can easily be spent in this area. Don't forget the changing of the guard at midday.
9 Church of SS Cyril & Methodius - Resslova Street
In June 1942 Czech Paratroopers flew from England to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi governor of Bohemia and known as the Butcher of Prague. When they had completed their task circumstances led to them hiding out in this church where they were betrayed by a colleague and where they died. There is a fascinating museum here telling the story and a visit here should be combined with a visit to the town of Lidice near to Prague Airport. This village was razed to the ground on the orders of Hitler as a reprisal and all the men murdered and women and children sent to Germany. It is a stark reminder of the terror of World War II.
10 Museum of Communism
This museum serves as an interesting diversion if the weather is bad. It’s location hints of irony being located next to the capitalist McDonalds restaurant on Na Prikope near to Wenceslas Square. The museum devotes itself to presenting the corruption, empty shops, oppression and fear of life in the socialist Czechoslovakia. What a contrast to the vibrant city which is now Prague!
Museum of Communism website
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