About, Czech Republic, Europe & UK

Prague

Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava River, it has existed for about 1,100 years. Founded during the Romanesque and flourishing by the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque era, it was an important city to the Habsburg Monarchy and its Austro- Hungarian empire.

On our arrival at Vaclav Havel Airport in Prague (by air from London), we were met by our pre-booked taxi driver and the journey to our hotel took about 30 minutes. The scene of Prague along the way told us that we have make the right choice in coming here.

One of the towers on Charles Bridge, on the Lesser Town (Mala Strana) side of Prague
One of the towers on Charles Bridge, on the Lesser Town (Mala Strana) side of Prague

We stayed at the Hotel Pod Vezi, the pink building in front of the tower in the photo above. Our room is of reasonable size, clean with good facilities and comes with very good breakfast including being able to make your own fresh orange juice.

Hotel guests are also able to get a free pass from the hotel’s reception to climb up the tower (in front of the hotel) to enjoy a bird-eye view of the Lesser Town (Mala Strana), the Charles Bridge and the views of the Old Town (Stare Mesto) across it. So, after freshening up, we got the free pass and climb-up the tower to enjoy the views of Prague.

Views from the tower across the Charles Bridge and towards the Old Town (Stare Mesto)
Views from the tower across Charles Bridge and towards the Old Town (Stare Mesto)

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Views from the tower towards the Lesser Town (Mala Strana)
Views from the tower towards the Lesser Town (Mala Strana)

As it was still early, we decided to take a walk up to Prague Castle.  The walk up to Prague Castle takes about an hour, depending on how often you stop along the way to take in the beautiful sights.

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The road going up to Prague Castle, with St. Nicholas Cathedral in the background
The road going up to Prague Castle, with St. Nicholas Cathedral in the background

At the Lesser Town Square is Prague’s most important high Baroque church, the St. Nicholas church. The church’s Barogue organ was installed here in 1746 and was played by Mozart in 1787.

The Lesser Town square and the St. Nicholas Church
The Lesser Town square and the St. Nicholas Church
Another view of the Lesser Town Square
Another view of the Lesser Town Square
Another view of St. Nicholas Church
Another view of St. Nicholas Church

Prague Castle resembles a small city in the city. There are no less than three courtyards and several streets. An ornate entrance gate at the Castle Square leads to the first courtyard, where on the hour you can watch uniformed palace guards parade during the Change of the Guards.

After the first world war, the castle became the seat of the government of Czechoslovakia and today the president of the Czech Republic still resides there. In the centre of the Prague Castle is St. Vitus Cathedral, one of the most recognised landmarks in the city.

The Castle Square
The Castle Square

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The entrance gate decorated with large sculptures of fighting giants, with changing of the guards parade at every hour
The entrance gate decorated with large sculptures of fighting giants, with changing of the guards parade at every hour
The third courtyard with views of the St. Vitus Cathedral
The third courtyard with views of the St. Vitus Cathedral
St. Vitus Cathedral
St. Vitus Cathedral. Stairs lead down to the Royal Crypt where the remains of Bohemian royals are buried, including King Charles IV, Vaclav I and Rudolph II.
The huge entrance to St. Vitus Cathedral
The huge entrance to St. Vitus Cathedral
Wedding photo sessions in the vicinity of St. Vitus Cathedral. I believe Prague is a favourite destination for wedding photos
Wedding photo sessions in the vicinity of St. Vitus Cathedral. I believe Prague is a favourite destination for wedding photo sessions

Golden Lane – a narrow street with small colourful houses is one of the most popular attractions in the Prague’s castle complex. It is named for the goldsmiths who lived here during the 17th century. The street is now mostly occupied by souvenir and book shops.

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The view of Prague is also beautiful from Prague Castle.

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Charles Bridge – the most famous bridge in Prague, is a legendary example of Gothic architecture. Crossing the bridge from the west side (Lesser town side), the Powder Tower marks the end of the bridge and the views from both sides of the bridge is stunning. The Powder Tower was built in 1745 and was originally known as the Mountain Tower but renamed after the tower was used to store gunpowder in the 17th century.

If you are interested in getting beautiful images of the Charles Bridge, you will have to sacrifice some sleep and get up very early in the morning and be at the bridge no later than 7am. From about 9am onwards until late at night, the bridge will be so over-crowded with tourists that it is impossible to get any good shots.

From the Charles bridge looking back towards the Lesser Town Tower
From Charles bridge looking back towards the Lesser Town Tower at 7am in the morning
View of the Vltava River
View of the Vltava River
Beautiful sculpture on Charles Bridge
Beautiful sculpture on Charles Bridge

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Wedding photo sessions on the Charles bridge early in the morning
Wedding photo sessions on Charles bridge early in the morning

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The Powder Tower
The Powder Tower
View of Lesser Town from the other side of Charles bridge
View of Lesser Town from the other side of Charles bridge
The Powder Tower
The Powder Tower
Across the road is the way to the Old Town Square
Across the road is the way to the Old Town Square

Old Town Square – and the surrounding quarter is the heart of Praque city, lined with magnificent buildings in different architectural styles, from Gothic to Baroque. The history of the square goes back to 1901 when a market existed at the site of the old town square.

The square and the surrounding streets are all pedestrian zones and the square is bordered by colourful houses, palaces and churches., with the most prominent buildings around the square being, the Old Town Hall (famous for its astronomical clock), the Tyn Church, the Kinsky Palace and the St. Nicholas church.

Old Town Hall
Old Town Hall
Astronomical clock of the old town hall, built in 1410 and the oldest of such clock in Europe
Astronomical clock of the old town hall, built in 1410 and the oldest of such clock in Europe
Wedding photo below the astronomical clock
Wedding photo below the astronomical clock
Another wedding photo sessions in the old town hall
Another wedding photo sessions in the old town hall
View of Tyn Church
View of Tyn Church
View of old town hall and Tyn church
View of old town hall and Tyn church
Another view of old town square
Another view of old town square

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View of old town square
View of old town square
St. Nicholas Church on old town square
St. Nicholas Church on old town square
Front of St. Nicholas church
Front of St. Nicholas church

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The long walk from the old town, along the river, to get back to the Lesser Town
The long walk from the old town, along the river, to get back to the Lesser Town

Vysehrad – is a large castle built in the 10th century on a rocky hill south of the Prague centre. The castle was used as the royal residence until 1140 when the Bohemian rulers moved to Prague Castle. However, in the 19th century, most of the buildings were razed and only the ramparts and gates remain.

St Peter and St Paul church – is the most famous landmark in the Vysehrad. The original church was destroyed by fire in the 13th century and rebuilt in Gothic style. Adjacent to the church is a cemetery which since 1869 has been use as the cemetery of honour for famous Czech citizens.

To get to the Vysehrad, you will have to turn left after crossing the Charles bridge (from the Lesser Town side) and walk along the banks of the river for about an hour (including rest stops and stops for sight-seeing along the way). The climb up the stair to the Vysehrad where the St Peter and St Paul is situated is quite steep but you can enjoy the beautiful views of the river from the top.

On the way to Vysehrad, looking back towards Charles bridge
On the way to Vysehrad, looking back towards Charles bridge

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View from the Vysehrad
View from the Vysehrad
St Peter and St Paul Church
St Peter and St Paul Church
Beautiful doors of the church
Beautiful doors of the church

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Beautiful interior of St Peter and St Paul church
Beautiful interior of St Peter and St Paul church
Prague train station where we took the train for our onward journey to Vienna
Prague train station where we took the train for our onward journey to Vienna

Prague is indeed a beautiful city and we enjoyed our three days stay there immensely. We were fore-warned about being cheated by taxis, money  changers and eating out in the restaurants around the old town square. We did not use any taxis as almost all the interesting sights in Prague can be reached by walking. We had lunch in a restaurant in the old town square and was served by a very friendly and talkative young Italian guy and not only were the prices reasonable, the food was quite good as well. In any event, one should still be extremely cautious when holidaying in eastern Europe.

All images shot with the Nikon D810 and Nikkor 18-35mm f3.5-4.5 g lens and processed in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop.

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