Visit Prague – The Most Beautiful City In The World
Prague is the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic, the 13th largest city in the European Union and the historical capital of Bohemia. Situated on the Vltava river, Prague is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of 2.7 million. The city has a temperate oceanic climate, with relatively warm summers and chilly winters.
Prague is a political, cultural, and economic centre of central Europe complete with a rich history. Founded during the Romanesque and flourishing by the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque eras, Prague was the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia and the main residence of several Holy Roman Emperors, most notably of Charles IV (r. 1346–1378). It was an important city to the Habsburg Monarchy and its Austro-Hungarian Empire. The city played major roles in the Bohemian and the Protestant Reformations, the Thirty Years' War and in 20th-century history as the capital of Czechoslovakia between the World Wars and the post-war Communist era.
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The 1989 Velvet Revolution that freed the Czechs from communism bequeathed to Europe a gem of a city to stand beside stalwarts such as Rome, Paris and London. Not surprisingly, visitors from around the world have come in droves, and on a hot summer's day it can feel like you’re sharing Charles Bridge with half of humanity. But even the crowds can’t take away from the spectacle of a 14th-century stone bridge, a hilltop castle and a lovely, lazy river – the Vltava – that inspired one of the most hauntingly beautiful pieces of 19th-century classical music, Smetana’s Moldau symphony.
Art All Around
Prague's art galleries may not have the allure of the Louvre, but Bohemian art offers much to admire, from the glowing Gothic altarpieces in the Convent of St Agnes, to the luscious art nouveau of Alfons Mucha, and the magnificent collection of 20th-century surrealists, cubists and constructivists in the Veletržní Palác. The weird and witty sculpture of David Černý punctuates Prague's public spaces, and the city itself offers a smorgasbord of stunning architecture, from the soaring verticals of Gothic and the exuberance of baroque to the sensual elegance of art nouveau and the chiselled cheekbones of cubist facades.
Where Beer is God
The best beer in the world just got better. Since the invention of Pilsner Urquell in 1842, the Czechs have been famous for producing some of the world's finest brews. But the internationally famous brand names – Urquell, Staropramen and Budvar – have been equalled, and even surpassed, by a bunch of regional Czech beers and microbreweries that are catering to a renewed interest in traditional brewing. Never before have Czech pubs offered such a wide range of brews – names you'll now have to get your head around include Kout na Šumavě, Primátor, Únětice and Matuška.
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Prague's maze of cobbled lanes and hidden courtyards is a paradise for the aimless wanderer, always beckoning you to explore a little further. Just a few blocks away from the Old Town Square you can stumble across ancient chapels, unexpected gardens, cute cafes and old-fashioned bars with hardly a tourist in sight. One of the great joys of the city is its potential for exploration – neighborhoods such as Vinohrady and Bubeneč can reward the urban adventurer with countless memorable cameos, from the setting sun glinting off church domes, to the strains of Dvořák wafting from an open window.
Tourist attractions in Prague
From the majestic Prague Castle to the unique Žižkov Television Tower via the baroque Charles Bridge, Prague boasts a score of monuments and sights that are not be missed during a visit to the capital of the Czech Republic.
Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Prague has become one of the world's most popular tourist destinations. Prague suffered considerably less damage during World War II than some other major cities in the region, allowing most of its historic architecture to stay true to form. It contains one of the world's most pristine and varied collections of architecture, from Romanesque, to Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neo-Renaissance, Neo-Gothic, Art Nouveau, Cubist, Neo-Classical and ultra-modern.
Prague is classified as an "Alpha-" global city according to GaWC studies, comparable to Vienna, Manila and Washington, D.C. Prague ranked sixth in the Tripadvisor world list of best destinations in 2016. Its rich history makes it a popular tourist destination, and the city receives more than 8.4 million international visitors annually, as of 2017.
Linking the Lesser Quarter and Old Town, Prague’s oldest surviving bridge is the Charles Bridge and is perhaps the most famous monument in the Czech capital, lined beautifully with baroque statues. The bridge was built during the era of Emperor Charles IV and legend has it that eggs were used during the construction to make it extra strong. In the early 20th century, it was open to traffic, including trams, but today, it’s filled with local artists offering their creations to visitors.
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The riverbank of the Vltava River, which flows into Prague from southern Bohemia, offers some of the best views of the historic centre of Prague. You can take a stroll along its embankments lined with trendy bars, cafes and markets, or explore several of the islands located in the middle of the river. A river cruise will show you some of the city’s best-known landmarks, or you can rent a rowboat or a motorboat to explore the river on your own.
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On a ridge near the Prague Castle complex, this Premonstratensian abbey was founded in the 12th century as one of the earliest such institutions in the country. Its library, with its magnificent Theological and Philosophical Halls, is a splendid example of baroque interior decoration. The monastery also features a popular restaurant with a brewery.
St Nicholas Church
A prime example of Prague’s baroque architecture, the Church of St Nicolas is in the heart of the Lesser Quarter beneath the Prague Castle complex. The church often hosts concerts of classical music and the adjacent tower, which once served as a dwelling for fire watchers, now houses a little museum telling how the tower was used as an observation post for the communist-era secret police.
Old Town Square and Astronomical Clock
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In the heart of Old Town, this square has been an important backdrop to some of the most dramatic moments in Czech history, such as the 17th-century execution of Protestant lords and the communist coup of 1948. The Old Town Hall features one of Prague’s most famous monuments, the Medieval Astronomical Clock. At each full hour, the procession of apostles at the top of the clock draws hundreds of onlookers.
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Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle complex in the world and towers over the Vltava River, overlooking the heart of the city. Once the seat of the kings of Bohemia, it now serves as the office of the president of the Czech Republic. It has witnessed some of the most momentous events in Czech history, such as the defenestration that triggered the devastating Thirty Years’ War, the Nazi takeover of Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II and the 1989 inauguration of Václav Havel as president of Czechoslovakia.
Best time to visit Prague
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Weather-wise, spring and fall are the best seasons to visit Prague. The weather is mild and there are relatively fewer tourists.
We visited in mid- to late-April and the weather was indeed fantastic. It was sunny everyday with cool temperatures that required little more than a sweater and a light jacket. It did get a bit colder at night but it was never uncomfortable.
MAR-MAY: As described, spring is a great time to visit Prague, especially in April and May when it gets a little warmer. Temperatures are mild and it’s still considered the low season so you can expect a more tolerable number of tourists.
JUN-AUG: Summer is peak season in Prague. The weather is ideal for sightseeing but it’s far and away the busiest time of the year. Tourist areas get fairly crowded even during shoulder seasons so I can only imagine what it must be like in summer.
SEP-OCT: Like spring, autumn is an ideal time to visit Prague. The weather is moderate and the leaves turning color make it one of the most beautiful times of the year to be in the city.
NOV-FEB: Prague experiences cold winters so this may not be the most comfortable time to go. However, it’s also one of the most picturesque with the least number of tourists. If you can brave the cold, then winter may be one of the most rewarding times to visit Prague.
What to eat in Prague
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Czech cuisine isn’t dissimilar to that of other central European countries, and in many cases, the origins of popular Czech dishes can be attributed to other countries – or vice versa.
Soups are usually served as the first course of most Czech meals, with popular options being garlic soup, sauerkraut soup or potato and mushroom with dill (known as kulajda) – although there are lots of other flavours you might encounter.
Traditional Czech food tends to be meat-heavy, with hearty stews and dumplings keeping Czechs full and warm in cold weather – perfect for visiting Prague in the winter! Pork is the most popular meat in Czech food, followed by beef. Duck and goose are typically more popular than chicken. Some game meats such as venison, rabbit and wild boar also appear on menus, particularly in more rural areas.
Desserts are very important in the Czech Republic, and if you have a sweet tooth you could spend hours exploring the many cafes and cake shops in Prague. Fruits such as plums, strawberries and blueberries are popular features in desserts, as are poppy seeds.
Although meat-eaters will have more choice of dishes, vegetarians are catered for here too. Traditionally, mushrooms featured as a key ingredient in vegetarian dishes, as they are abundant in the forests around the Czech Republic, although these days vegetarian and vegan food in Prague is much more varied. You can also find fish dishes with river fish, mainly carp and trout, especially around Christmas time when carp are usually served for the Christmas meal.
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