Prague, the capital of Czech Republic, often called the hearth of Europe due to its geographic position, is a very beautiful city. It is one of the oldest cities in Europe, offering an enormous number of historical sights to visit.
In addition to its breath-taking architectural beauties, Prague is also very cosy and every time of year offers something particular and original. However, there is one period to which you should pay special attention – during Advent. In December, Prague begins to look like Christmas, with nice street decorations and Christmas trees in almost at every important square. Moreover, there are many traditional Christmas markets that open at this beautiful time and you should definitely not miss them. As the markets and the attractions in Prague are numerous, this article will present you two that are situated in the city centre. In addition, it will give you a few tips of what you must-try.
Old Town Square and the Astronomic ClockThe first market that is a must-see is situated in Old Town Square. This market and the square itself is one of the biggest and most famous. Old Town Square has numerous historical buildings, the most famous of which is the City Hall with a mechanical astronomic clock. Every hour, the clock offers to its spectators a one-minute figurine show. The small wooden cock begins to sing and a tiny figurine of a skeleton pulls a string that opens two blue windows in which you can watch the 12 apostles salute the audience one by one. After one minute, the windows close, the mechanism stops, and the show is over.
If you intend to visit the Christmas market in the Old Town Square, you should make plans to come here at about a quarter of hour before the whole hour, in order to catch this fabulous mechanical play. Afterwards, you can switch your attention to the market. First, pay attention to its Christmas tree – it is representative of the whole City of Prague, so it is the biggest and the most majestic. Every year, it has different decorations but always there is a manger with real animals underneath. Watch the goats, sheep, ponies, and donkeys calmly eating their hay. Children especially will appreciate these beautiful animals! There is a small ring where children can have pony rides.
Taste Trdo, the traditional homemade pastryTake a look at the surrounding Christmas market. There are a variety of different stands, which have traditional crafts, handmade products, and Czech food specialities. You must see the traditional blacksmith who forges small decorative forms in front of your eyes. He uses a real fire and the hot sparks and the sharp smell of hot metal gives a unique and intense atmosphere. I promise that you won’t be able to tear your eyes away.
But there is so much more to see – how about buying some hot wine with cinnamon and orange peel while trying some of Czech specialities? Even if the choice is enormous, the one thing that you should not miss is definitely the traditional Eastern Europe pastry called “Trdlo” or “Trdelnik” made from sweet leavened dough. The cooks split this dough in small parts from which they roll long snakes. These snakes are afterwards rolled around a metallic tube and dipped in a mix of sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nuts. Once this work done, the tubes are placed over the fire and are turned until baked. Pay attention and you’ll see the sugar slowly caramelising, as well as to smell the cinnamon and vanilla. This will make you really hungry and “Trdlo” – which even means longing for something. Luckily the baking takes only a few minutes, so you can grab one freshly baked whenever you want. All of your senses will be pleased by the fabulous taste of fluffy dough and the crunchy caramelised sugar crust. Usually, this delicacy costs about 50 CZK (2 USD).
Enjoy Czech hamIf you’re longing for something savoury, wander a bit further and visit a tiny market situated to the left of the City Hall. This is the Small Square and it is surrounded by picturesque arcades. This market is more quiet that the other. If you like meat, you can’t miss the traditional Czech pork ham called “Prazska sunka” (Prague ham) that is becoming more and more appreciated all over the world. The vendors will cut it for you directly from the big ham leg. It is up to you how much you want, and it is priced by weight. In addition, you’ll get a piece of typical Czech rye-wheat bread on side. This ham is really of the best quality and will surely please your tongue. If you are still hungry, there is another dish to try – a sort of Czech “gnocchi” called “Halusky” that are served with a sour cabbage and a special type of bacon. If you are cold, this tasty food will surely warm you up. This market has its own small Christmas tree and ponies.
Both Christmas markets are opened everyday from 10 am to 10 pm, they end on 3 January 2016. To see the markets by night with all the lights is an even more extraordinary experience. So, don’t miss them!
The best of Prague Christmas markets
December is the ideal time to visit Prague, as the Christmassy atmosphere makes everything even more special. Beautiful decorations and the Christmas markets will make you feel like you’re in a fairy tale. Here are a few tips of what to try and see while visiting Prague’s Christmas markets.
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