Prague or Praha as it is locally known, is the capital of the Czech Republic and is located in Eastern Europe. For six centuries it was nearly untouched by war and it now offers a stunning experience of well-preserved European culture. The many heritage structures in Prague are maintained tirelessly and serve as breathtaking examples of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architectural styles. The treasures of Prague remain relatively undiscovered, since it may not be the first destination that comes to mind for most people thinking of traveling abroad which is what makes it a must-see for those interested to experience the wonders of this fantastical land.
There are many city tours available once you reach Prague. The best way to ensure you don’t miss out on any of the main attractions is to take one of these tours. A typical day tour includes a visit to Prague Castle, the Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, the Jewish Quarter, a cruise on the Danube River and the famous Astronomical Clock of Prague. A knowledgeable, multi-lingual tour guide briefs you on the amazing history of Prague while you travel by bus to each location and narrates the history of each place as you walk on the cobbled streets past centuries-old buildings and structures. The enchanting art and architecture can keep one engrossed for any length of time.
The magnificent Prague Castle and Astronomical Clock provide insights into the extremely skillful nature of the medieval artisans and builders who, with such great precision built these magnificent structures that have withstood the rigors of the weather, wars and time. The Old Town Square and Jewish Quarters take one back to the society and culture of medieval Prague.
The cruise on the Danube gives everyone some time to cool off after having taken in so much history, while the visit to Charles Bridge is a wonderful and relaxing experience in itself. The imposing arched gateways to Charles Bridge and the detailed statues and scenes that line it are in themselves an ode to this beautiful Bridge which is the oldest in Prague – its construction began in the year 1357.
Culture and Ambience
Prague is a unique blend of medieval and modern civilization. The old-world charm is seamlessly coupled with modern day infrastructure. From Gothic Castles to the Dancing House of Prague, it is apparent that the pinnacle of architectural design has been achieved here through the ages. The people of Prague are very friendly and helpful, even if they don’t speak much English; they manage to guide tourists correctly.
The local currency is not the Euro though; it is the Czech Koruna so one has to be careful to exchange currencies where the rate is good. It is exciting to explore Prague by walking through its narrow lanes, visiting each crystal and souvenir shop on the way. There is always the option of traveling by tram for the more adventurous – an experience in itself!
There is no better way to get a feel of the culture of Prague than to spend an evening on Charles Bridge. With a variety of local musicians performing at scattered intervals, the walk across the bridge is pleasant and rejuvenating because of the cool breeze, magnificent panorama and lively music. The local vendors sell a number of curious little things at their kiosks – from jewelery to souvenirs and artwork. You can savor the blissful atmosphere by sitting down for 20 minutes to get your portrait made by any of the talented artists on the bridge.
Prague also has a rich culture of folklore and storytelling. There are a number of ‘Ghost Tours’ in Prague which take you walking through the alleys at night while a guide narrates various ghoulish myths, legends and mysteries that are linked to each place. An exercise more suited to the tastes of children and those who enjoy drama and theatrics! Prague has a bustling nightlife. A wide variety of restaurants and cafes are open till relatively late at night. Every cuisine can be sampled here, without the usual problem of food being too bland in Europe.
Prague is also a popular destination for shooting movies and music videos, because of its breathtakingly beautiful scenery. The Bollywood film ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ was shot entirely in Prague. Actions sequences for movies such as Tom Cruise starrer, Mission Impossible and Vin Diesel starrer, Triple X have been shot on the Charles Bridge, along with music videos for the likes of Kanye West, INXS and Linkin Park.
There are a number of ways to reach Prague. If you’re flying, there is the Ruzyně International Airport. If you are traveling in Europe, you can take a train to ‘Praha hlavní nádraží’, the central station. You can also get there by Bus – the main international bus stop is called ‘Florenc’.
Prague is a unique and scintillating destination to visit and a must-see for those interested in history, architecture, folklore or simply the European culture and lifestyle.
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