Rebel with a cause - Three pioneering female travellers
By Sukie Chapman
8 March 2019
Ferdinand Magellan, Captain James Cook, Marco Polo, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Ranulph Fiennes. What do they all have in common?Read more
The Czech capital is pleasantly small and compact, with the key city sights all contained within Prague's central districts - Staré Mesto (Old Town), Nové Mesto (New Town), Malá Strana and (Lesser Town) and Josefov. As a result, Prague is best explored on foot, allowing chance to visit some of Prague's many 'hospody' - beer-houses. These taverns serve some of the world's finest beers, many of which are brewed in the Czech Republic. Prague is home to one of Europe's most beautiful central squares. Located in the Old Town, the market place is called Staromestské námesti. In the centre of the square is a statue of Jan Hus, a religious leader from the 1400s.
Prague's rich collection of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance buildings mean that there is still plenty to discover. The compact medieval centre remains an evocative maze - you will find cobbled lanes, ancient courtyards, dark passages and haunting churches at every turn. Among the sights close by are the astronomical clock, the Town Hall and the Church of our Lady at Tyn. You may wish to delve deeper into the Old Town, with its grand churches and squares, or explore the Jewish quarter's synagogues and impressive town hall. If you are in the mood for some contemporary shopping then the New Town is sure to have what you are looking for.
Gourmet restaurants, cocktail bars and trendy cafés are easy to find. If you are looking for something more authentic, you can feast on pork and dumplings washed down with beer in a traditional pub. Many of Prague's main sites are just a short journey away and trams and public transport are available throughout the city. Day passes may be purchased for the extensive tram, bus and metro network. You can take a leisurely stroll along the Vltava River, or possibly cruise gently through the city, the most relaxing way to see the sights.
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Sitting on a hill overlooking the city is one of Prague's most recognisable sights: Prague Castle. The complex on the hill is said to be Europe's largest castle, with a history dating back to the 11th century. Part of the complex is St Vitus' Cathedral, with its familiar spires. The impressive Gothic cathedral took over 600 years to complete. Overall, the complex includes: a palace, three churches, stables, a monastery and, of course, the beautiful gardens surrounding the buildings.
The famous Charles Bridge (Karluv most) separates the two sides of Prague and links the Old Town to the Lesser Town. The stone bridge, a pedestrian-only crossing, is one of the city's most recognisable sights. On both sides of the bridge are elegant buildings and houses built right on the water's edge. On the bridge itself you'll find a host of street performers and buskers. The bridge, commissioned by King Charles IV, was first built in 1357 with a purely functional purpose (for knight tournaments) and was initially very sparsely decorated, only adorned with a simple crucifix. However, under Catholic control, 30 statues were added between 1600 and 1800. There are now 75 statues on the bridge, although many are recreations of the originals destroyed by floods, fighting and other catastrophes in the city's turbulent history.