During our travels through Eastern Europe we were able to visit the Czech Republic, in particular Prague. Prague is a very interesting city. For starters, we were on the bus tour so we didn’t have the vehicle independence or public transportation option really nailed down. We did come back to the area one more time when we go our Eurorail tickets but spent the majority of the time going back to the same spots we liked the first time we visited.
Prague is an old city with stone pathways and amazing architecture, along with being one of the largest cities in all of the European Union. It is the historical capital of Bohemia and is considered one of the political, cultural, and economic centers of central Europe. As the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia and the main residence of several Holy Roman Emperors, the city contains an enormous amount of cultural and historical significance for all of Europe. While visiting the area we were able to see famous attractions such as Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, the Old Town Square, and the astronomical clock. The historic center of town is a great place to not only be in a visitor friendly area fresh with tons of things to do to occupy your time, but is also still a great place to see the “true” character of a global city. Prague is consistently listed as one of the most visited cities in the world, right up there on the list with London, Paris, Rome, and Istanbul.
The Old Town Square in Prague is a delight to visit. There are many memorials in the square’s center, including religious reformer Jan Hus who was burned at the stake for his beliefs in Constance. Erected in 1915 to mark the 500th anniversary of his death, the memorial is only one of many ways the people of Bohemia celebrate Jan Hus. Celebrated as a symbol of dissidence and strength against oppressive regimes, Jan Hus historically opposed control by the Vatican and gave confidence to those in the nineteenth century who would oppose rule under the Hapsburg. In celebration of the end of the Thirty Years War and the end of Hapsburg rule is the Marion Column and in front of the Old Town Hall is a memorial to the martyrs beheaded during the Old Town Square execution by the Hapsburg. So much history spanned over a vast amount of time is astonishing. One could easily spend a few hours just in this main city area.
Another feature in the Old Town Square is the Astronomical Clock. Dating back to 1410 with the first recorded mention of the clock in October of that year, the clock was made by Mikulas of Kadan and Jan Sindel. Later the calendar dial was added and clock facade was decorated with Gothic sculptures. The mechanism of the clock has three main components – the astronomical dial (representing the Sun and Moon in the sky), statues of various Catholic saints, an hourly show of Apostle figures for the clock face striking the time, and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months. There are plenty of outdoor cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating to sit and have a great lunch and watch the astronomical clock in action. Why not have a sip of absinthe while you are in the area? Clinton and I had the obligatory shot and it is absolutely weird! Licorice tasting and extremely strong, don’t drink too much or it may be hard to navigate your way back to the hotel. The food is just as good as Poland and Hungary, with a bit of flare for global blending since so many different cultures seemed to come together in this one square.
Like most major European cities, bridges are a huge deal. In Prague the bridge to view as Charles Bridge, which is as truly beautiful as they say it is! This historic bridge crosses the Vltava river and its construction was started in 1357 under King Charles IV and finished in the beginning of the 15th century. Since the Charles Bridge was the only means of crossing the river until 1841, it was the most important connection between Prague Castle and Old Town. Speaking of the Prague Castle – it is one of the largest ancient castles in the world at almost 750,000 square feet. It is the official office of the President of the Czech Republic and was the seat of power for kings, emperors, and presidents throughout the long history of the Czech Republic. Don’t forget to cross the bridge and visit this beauty during your trip through central Europe!