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What to see in Prague

Prague is filled with beauty and can be enjoyed and explored for days, months, or a lifetime. The city has its charm at any time of the year. The average visitor will only have a few days to discover Prague's many faces, so let's not get carried away...

The Prague Castle

It is a national cultural monument, the symbol of more than millennial development of the Czech state. Originally it used to be the residence of princes and kings of Bohemia, since 1918 it is the seat of the president. Since its foundation in the last quarter of the 9th century it has been developing uninterruptedly throughout the past eleven centuries. It is a monumental complex of ecclesiastical, fortification, residential and office buildings, representing all architectural styles and periods, surrounding three castle courtyards and covering 45 hectares.

St. Vitus Cathedral

A gothic cathedral, the spiritual symbol of the Czech state, founded in the year 1344 by Jan Lucembursky (John of Luxembourg) and his sons Karel (Charles) and Jan Jindrich (John Henry) in the place of the original romanesque rotunda. The construction proceeded according to the plans of Matthias of Arras (until 1352), and then Petr Parler (1356 - 1399). The construction period protracted to nearly 600 years and it was finally completed in 1929. Decorated by precious works of art it encloses St. Wenceslas´ Chapel and the Crypt with tombs of Bohemian kings. The coronation jewels are deposited here, too.

Charles Bridge

The oldest Prague bridge built in the place of the Judita´s Bridge that had been badly damaged by a flood in 1342. Originally called the Stone Bridge or Prague Bridge, since 1870 it has been known as Charles Bridge, in honor of its founder, Czech King and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV.

By the latest researches, construction was started by Master Otto and finished by king Charles’ favorite constructor and architect, Peter Parler (who also built St. Wenceslas Chapel in St. Vitus Cathedral and The Old Town bridge tower). The Charles Bridge was finished in 1402. Both ends of the bridge are fortified by towers, the two Lesser Town Bridge Towers and one Old Town Bridge Tower.

The Old Town bridge tower is often considered to be one of the most astonishing civil gothic-style buildings in the world. The bridge is 516 meters long and nearly 10 m wide, resting on 16 arches shielded by ice guards. The 30 predominantly Baroque statues and statuaries situated on the balustrade form a unique connection of artistic harmony with the Gothic bridge beneath.

Most of the sculptures were erected between 1683 and 1714 and represent various saints and patron saints. The most prominent Bohemian sculptors of the time, Matthias Braun, Jan Brokoff and his sons Michael Joseph and Ferdinand Maximilian, contributed to decorating the bridge. Notable among the sculptures one can find the statuaries of St. Luthgard, St. Crucifix or St. John of Nepomuk. Legend has it that touching the statue of St. John of Nepomuk will make your wish come true. Today, parts of the statue are polished from countless hopeful hands and many years of wishing.

St. Wenceslas Square

Wenceslas Square is one of the most popular places to stay in Prague. Tourists are attracted to the shopping, entertainment and nightlife all around, along with the fact that most of Prague´s sights and attractions lie within easy walking distance.

From Wenceslas Square it is possible to walk anywhere in central Prague. The 750m long and 60m wide boulevard that makes up Wenceslas Square was laid out over 600 years ago during the reign of Charles IV and was originally used as the main Prague horse market. Over the years it has been a regular parade ground for all kinds of organisations and political parties. From anti-communist uprisings to winning the World Ice Hockey Championships, this is where Czech´s come to protest and to celebrate.

Wenceslas Square can comfortably hold up to 400,000 people! At the top of Wenceslas Square, the statue of St. Wenceslas on his horse cuts a striking figure. This is good King Wenceslas (Vaclav), murdered over a thousand years ago by his brother, and now a Czech national hero. Behind St. Wenceslas is the monumental National Museum. Nearby is the famous Prague State Opera.

In front of the statue of St. Wenceslas are two plaques in memory of those killed during the Communist period. One is dedicated to Jan Palach, a 20-year old student who set himself on fire in January 1969, in protest of the Soviet invasion.

Old Town Square

The most significant square of historical Prague. It originated in the 12th century and since then witnessed many events. Beside the Old Town Hall and the Church of Our Lady before Týn (see a special heading) the square has several other dominants, the baroque St. Nicholas church (K. I. Dienzenhofer, 1732 - 1737), the rococo Kinský palace housing the National Gallery exhibition hall, the Stone Bell house - a gothic city palace from the 14th century - now the Municipal Gallery concert and exhibition rooms, and the Memorial to Master Jan Hus sculptured by Ladislav Saloun (1915).The very place where the 27 Czech gentlemen were executed on 21 June, 1621, is marked in the square pavement.

Old Town Hall

Established 1338 as the seat of the Old Town authorities. The oldest gothic part of the complex which includes a tower and an oriel chapel is richly decorated with coats of arms. It was built in the latter half of the 14th century. In the top part of the astronomical clock (early 15th century) the 12 apostles appear every hour between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m

The bottom part was supplemented with a round calendarium including the signs of the zodiac painted by Josef Manes (1865). The eastern pseudo-gothic wing of the Town Hall was destroyed on May 8, 1945, and has not been rebuilt yet.

Golden Lane

Small houses built in the gothic fortification; the 16th century homes of castle riflemen and craftsmen. In 1916 - 1917 Franz Kafka used to work in No. 22.

Rudolfinum

A Neo Renaissance building constructed in 1876 - 1884 (J. Zitek, J. Schulz), originally designed for a picture gallery, collection of antiquites and concerts. In the years 1918 - 1938 and 1945 - 1946 it housed the National Assembly.

The Czech Philhramonic Orchestra found its seat there in 1946. The main hall - the Dvorak Hall - is world famous as a place where the Prague Spring music festival concerts take place every year.

Vysehrad

Ancient legends situate the original seat of the Czech princes - the legendary Princess Libuse and the first Przemyslides - on the hill. In fact, however, this fort had not been founded until the Prague Castle was already in existence, since it dates back to the mid-10th century.

In the latter half of the 11th and in the 12th century Vysehrad used to be the Przemyslides princes' main residence which brought about a generous building activity within its walls.

Among noteworthy sight there are the precious romanesque rotunda of St. Martin (interior only for groups announced in advance), the gothic church of St. Peter and Paul (in the late 19th century rebuilt in the neogothic style), the Vysehrad cemetery used as a burial site of the Czech outstanding personalilties since 1869 with a collective tomb called Slavin, the underground casemates housing the originals of several baroque statues from the Charles Bridge. The Vysehrad site is open the whole day.

O2 Arena

It is the most modern multipurpose venue for sports, culture, entertainment, exhibits, fairs, and other events in Europe, featuring the most advanced technology, universal usage, sophisticated marketing, comfort and all-embracing services for spectators and visitors.

National Muzeum

The largest and oldest Czech museum founded in 1818 is housed in a monumental neo-renaissance building from the years 1885 – 1890 that dominates the Wenceslas Square.

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