Prague has seen plenty over its centuries, and that history is very much alive in the narrow streets of the old town and the curious characters of its districts. It is an incredible city, one brimming with world-famous attractions that have inspired writers and artists for centuries. The Czech capital is a hub of Central European culture, with beauty on and around every corner.
Arriving to Prague by train
Prague has one main station, Prague Hlavni Nadrazi – Hlavni Nadrazi which means main station in Czech, and often abbreviated to Praha hl.n.
Prague train station is right in the city centre just 15 minutes walk from Prague’s historic old town, 20 minutes walk from Charles Bridge. It’s a through station, not a terminus – trains head north for Berlin, south for Munich, Vienna & Budapest.
To get to the old town you can either take the tram or order an Uber which is more preferable than taking the Taxi from the Taxi stand.
Where to Stay and get around
If this is your first visit, the Old Town has by far the most attractions and is the most popular place to stay in Prague. However beware that in general it is also the most crowded and expensive. The plus side is, old town is easy to explore on foot and it is also only around 1km away from the main train station. For us, we stayed in a good value Ibis Hotel located in the heart of the old town and next door to Palladium Mall.
Prague has a good public transportation system served by subway, tram and bus. The metro and tram are the best ways to get around in central Prague. Bus service mainly goes to the suburbs and outlying areas and do not enter the historic districts to prevent air and noise pollution.
Prague Old Town Square
Prague Old Town is among the oldest and by far, the most beautiful district in the Czech Capital of Prague. The core of the historical center is Old Town Square, which started as a marketplace in the 10th century and has been the site for many political and cultural events that have shaped the history of Prague. The ancient lanes of cobblestone form a mysterious maze in which even the most orientated is bound to get lost.
From the old town square we continued walking to Charles Bridge. Charles Bridge is a medieval stone arch bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague, Czech Republic. Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV and finished in the early 15th century. The bridge replaced the old Judith Bridge built 1158–1172 that had been badly damaged by a flood in 1342. This new bridge was originally called Stone Bridge (Kamenný most) or Prague Bridge (Pražský most), but has been referred to as “Charles Bridge” since 1870.
As the only means of crossing the river Vltava until 1841, Charles Bridge was the most important connection between Prague Castle and the city’s Old Town and adjacent areas. This land connection made Prague important as a trade route between Eastern and Western Europe.
A UNESCO world heritage site, Charles bridge is 516 metres (1,693 ft) long and nearly 10 metres (33 ft) wide. It was built as a bow bridge with 16 arches shielded by ice guards and is protected by three bridge towers, two on the Lesser Quarter side (including the Mala Strana Bridge Tower) and one on the Old Town side, the Old Town Bridge Tower. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues, most of them Baroque-style, originally erected around 1700, but now all have been replaced by replicas.
Walking thru Charles bridge took us to Kampa island where we stumbled into a cute bridge with many lockets where we stopped and took pictures
From Kampa island we continued walking to find Malostranska where we could take the tram to Prague Castle. We have bought one day ticket from the newspaper shop for the tram and from reading Trip Advisor we found that the best way to visit the castle is by taking Tram number 22 to Pohorelec and making our way down from there. It was quite tricky finding where to catch the number 22 Tram and which direction. We made a mistake by taking the tram with the wrong direction and headed to the new town instead of the castle. As we were brought to the new town we decided to just have lunch first as Alyssa was already hungry.
We finally boarded Tram 22 with the right direction and stop at Pohorelec. From Pohorelec we walked down to the castle and made a stop at Strahov Monastery, Lorietta dan Stemberg Palace.
Strahov Monastery was founded in 1149 by the Bishop of Olomouc Jindrich Zdik and the Premonstratensian order founded by St. Norbert. The monastery survived fire in1258, plundering by Prague citizens in 1420, Hussite raids and a period of inactivity before being renewed by Jan Lohelius who embarked on ambition building projects. The monastery complex includes a church, dormitories, workshops, gardens and a refectory. In 1627 the remains of the founder of the Premonstratensian order, Saint Norbert, were brought from Magdeburg to be buried in the abbey church where they remain today. The monastery has a magnificent library adorned with intricate frescoes. The library holds more than 200,000 books including many valuable volumes. The fresco-covered Theological Hall (1671) holds the theology books of the Strahov library as well as several valuable 17th century astronomical globes. The two storey high Philosophical Hall (1782) has ceiling frescoes showing the history of mankind and holds books from the former Moravia Monastery. In the Strahov Church (Basilica of Our Lady) you can see the organ Mozart played when visiting the monastery in 1787 and also see the 16 meter high vaulted ceiling which is decorated with beautiful frescoes
Lorietta is a pilgrimage destination in Prague. It consists of a cloister, the church of the Lord’s Birth, the Santa Casa and a clock tower with a famous chime. Construction started in 1626 and the Holy Hut was blessed on 25 March 1631. The architect was the Italian Giovanni Orsi, and the project was financed by Katerina Benigna, a noble woman of the Lobkowicz family. Fifty years later the place of pilgrimage was surrounded by cloisters, to which an upper storey was added after 1740. The baroque facade was designed by the architects Christoph Dientzenhofer and Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer, and added at the beginning of the 18th century
From Lorietta we made our way walking down to Prague Castle. Imagine if you start from the castle, you will have to walk upward all the way lol.
Prague Castle is an ancient symbol of the Czech State, the most significant Czech monument and one of the most important cultural institutions in the Czech Republic. It was founded in around 880 by Prince Bořivoj of the Premyslid Dynasty (Přemyslovci). According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world, with an area of almost 70,000 m². A UNESCO World Heritage site, it consists of a large-scale composition of palaces and ecclesiastical buildings of various architectural styles, from the remains of Romanesque-style buildings from the 10th century through Gothic modifications of the 14th century. The famous Slovenian architect Josip Plečnik was responsible for extensive renovations in the time of the First Republic (1918-1938). Since the Velvet Revolution, Prague Castle has undergone significant and ongoing repairs and reconstructions.
We arrived at the Castle in time for the Changing of Guard Ceremony. It was similar with Changing of the Guard Process in Buckingham palace and Windsor Castle but the Guards at Prague Castle are much more good looking lol.
St Vithus Cathedral dan Church St Nicholas
St Nicholas Church in Malá Strana is the most beautiful and famous Baroque church in Prague. If the Saint Vitus Cathedral is considered the most impressive Gothic style church, while St Nicholas is a Baroque masterpiece. The initial plans of the church were made in 1673 by the Jesuits. The Chapel of St Barbara was built first so that mass could be celebrated as soon as possible. It was finished in 1711. The rest of the construction was completed in 1752.
In the square where the church is located is the Plague Column with a statue of the Holy Trinity. It was built in 1715 by one of the most important Baroque architects of the time in Bohemia, Alliprandi. St Nicholas Church houses numerous artworks, from the frescos on the ceiling and dome to the sculptures that adorn the walls. The church was designed by K. Dientzenhofer and three generations of his family (father, son and son in law) worked on the church during the following century
See Prague city view from the castle
It was almost sunset when we finish at Prague Castle so we couldn’t go to see the new town and Petrin Hill. We decided to head back to our Hotel and had dinner at Palladium Mall next door. Again we made the same mistake and took a wrong tram lol. Fortunately through our mistake we got to see the new town after all and see more of Prague from the tram window. It is not a bad idea to explore Prague by taking Tram 22 as the Tram made a stop in various attractions along Prague.