Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, is well known as one of the most beautiful and ancient cities in world. Often, its breath-taking panoramas are compared to the most romantic fairy tales. Even if every district of the city centre offers a different atmosphere, they’re all full of stunning historical buildings and architectural gems from different time periods and are of different styles. This article will guide you through the most important sites of the Old Town that is situated on the right bank of the Vltava River.
Famous Charles Bridge
Let’s begin our journey at Charles Bridge, one of the oldest bridges in Europe. This ancient stone bridge connects the Old Town with the Mala Strana District. Leaving the tramway at Malostranske Namesti in Mala Strana to pass through the Charles Bridge is the best and most pompous way to enter the Old Town. Even the Czech kings did it like this! In fact, the bridge was built by one of the most famous kings, Charles IV, who ruled in the 14th century. It is a real masterpiece of Gothic architecture, full of old statues that represent the most famous people from Czech history and mythology. Walking there, don’t forget to look at the statue of Bruncvik, situated on the tenth pillar on the right side of the bridge. He is a mythic hero that struck down the wild two tailed lion that became the Czech national symbol. Continue your walk by enjoying the panorama of the Old Town riverbank with the graceful building of the National Theatre in the background.
Stunning National Theatre
The National Theatre is another important architectural building that you can’t miss during your visit to Old Town. This beautiful building from the 19th century has an interesting history – it was built during an important period of Czech history that is called the Czech National Renaissance. The Czech people who were living under the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and who spoke German began to rediscover their original culture. Linguists re-created the Czech language and artists created works inspired by Czech history and traditions. The National Theatre building is the peak of these efforts – it was built using money from the whole Czech nation and it was constructed and decorated by the most popular artist of the epoch. There is one simple expression in Czech that perfectly summarizes the meaning that the building had: “The nation for itself”. Even if nowadays the Czech don’t need to fight for their already well-established culture, the beauty of the Theatre remains stunning and worthy of admiration. Buy a ticket to a ballet and don’t forget to look at the main theatre curtain – it is a masterpiece by a famous painter called Vojtech Hynais.
Lucerna and Svetozor cinema palaces
In addition to such historical buildings, Prague is also a city of Art Nouveau. Walking through the Old Town, you can’t forget to visit its beautiful passages full of curved decoration with natural motifs. Vodickova Street next to the Mustek Metro Station hides the largest complex of these Art Nouveau passages. The most famous is called Lucerna (“the lantern”). It is named after a large cinema palace of the same name. The cinema is still working and it has preserved its old-fashioned look. You can enter the cinema café – with all the fancy chairs and professional beginning-of-the-century service, you’ll feel like you’re back in the time. There is another cinema palace, just on the other side of the street that is called Svetozor. It is much smaller than Lucerna and less decorated. However, there is a fantastic ice cream shop called Ovocny Svetozor that you can’t miss!
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Graceful Municipal House
At the Namesti Republiky Metro Station, there is another building that will hit you with its graceful style. It is the Municipal House, the peak of Art Nouveau architecture – almost all of the most famous artists of this period worked on its stunning decoration. Among the famous artists, we should at least mention the painter Alfons Mucha that is well-known all over the world for his beautiful women and publicity posters. The importance of the building is solidified as this is the location where in 1918 the first republic – Czechoslovakia was declared. Nowadays, the Municipal House works as a gallery and concert hall. If you want to get more information about the building and to see its beautiful interior, you take a guided tour. It costs 290 CZK (11.66 USD). There are also two fancy restaurants on the ground floor, which are perfect places to eat after the visit or after an interesting concert.
The Old Town Square and its Astronomical Clock
You can’t finish your visit to Old Town without seeing its famous Astronomical Clock. Turn around at the Municipal House, pass underneath a medieval Powder Tower and take Celetna, an old street full of markets. The City Hall in Old Town Square, where the Astronomical Clock is located, is just at the bottom of this street. This stunning mechanical machine was created in the 15th century and it consists of an enormous complex of beautifully decorated discs and small wooden figures. At the top of every hour, the machine begins to work and the figures start to move. There is a cock that crows, then the skeleton pulls a tiny rope that opens two small blue windows on the top of the tower. In these windows, you’ll see a progression of figures of all 12 Apostles of Jesus. The show is very quick and in one minute, the windows close and everything calms down. If you want to see this wonderful mechanical play, come to the Old Town Square at about 15 minutes before the show begins. As the place is always very crowded, the extra time will ensure you have a good place to watch. You can finish your visit by walking up the City Hall Tower to see a stunning panorama of all the Old Town. The entrance is just next to the Clock and it costs 120 CZK (4.82USD).
The best sights of Old Town Prague
Prague is a magical city that hides an enormous number of architectural gems. Almost every historical epoch, from the medieval age to the early 20th century left some interesting sights to see. This article offers you five of the best places that you should definitely not miss.
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