May 29, 2010

The first thing to do in Prague

When you work for the airlines, your vacation time tends to be a little bit of a last minute decision (that is unless you bite the bullet and purchase a ticket). Things can always happen... volcano's erupt, storms roll in, flights cancel. We usually have a place in mind and a few back-ups. We originally planned to head back to Thailand, but since it's been a bit unsafe in Bangkok, we scrapped that plan and Prague it was.

Needless to say, we did not have a lot of time to plan our visit. When I finally posted on Facebook that we had chosen Prague- Geoff's cousin message us to say that her family was going to be in Prague for our last 2 days. We planned to meet up and go on a free walking tour of the city. Geoff and I figured we could wait for them and spend that time together.

This should explain why we waited to do THIS Free Tour of Prague on our last full day there. If it were just us, we would of gone first thing because it explained a lot of the city and it's buildings that we had already walked by and wondered about. It took about 3 hours with a lunch break in there and all it cost us was a tip for the guide. :)

We started the tour in Old Town Square (Staromestske Namesti) which was where we started our day each morning in Prague since we were staying a short walk from the Square.

The Old Town Hall Tower, built in 1338, has the Astronomical Clock on the side of one of the walls.

This clock was said to have a procession of the Twelve Apostles: on the hour, every hour. Each time we were there on the hour, people would crowd around the clock and wait... I never saw any processional. However, the clock itself is pretty neat. It has a sun on the end of one of the clock hands that represents where the sun sits in the sky. The colors on the clock also represent the time of day (sunset, day and night). The outer hours represent how many hours have passed since sunset.

Also in the square sits Church of Our Lady before Tyn, which is a beautiful Gothic Church. If you look close at the two spires they are not symmetrical and are meant to represent both the masculine and feminine sides of the world.

We headed on down the road to the Estates Theatre where two of Mozart's operas were premiered, most notable Don Giovanni which premiered October 1787.

We walked over to Wenceslas Square which is basically the main boulevard. There are a lot of shops, bars casino's and hotels around this area. The National Museum sits at the top of the Square. (The only photo I had of this was from walking around our first evening).

Next we headed over to the Powder Tower and Municipal House which sit side by side. The Municipal House is Prague's most prominent Art Nouveau building and houses Prague's biggest concert hall.

The Powder Tower was one of 13 gates that lead into Old Town and the only gate left standing nowdays. It is called the Powder Tower or Gate because it was used to store gun powder.

After a break for lunch we headed over to the Old Jewish Quarter.
The Jewish Quarter dates back to the 13th century, when the Jewish community in Prague were ordered to vacate their homes and settle into one area. Over the years more people were crowded into the area, as Jews were banned from living anywhere else. These buildings form the best preserved complex of Jewish historical monuments in the whole of Europe. Six synagogues remain, including the Old-New Synagogue and the Spanish Synagogue, plus the Jewish Town Hall and the Old Jewish Cemetery, which is the most remarkable of its kind in Europe.

Old New Synagogue

Charles Bridge is a beautiful 14th century stone bridge linking the two sides of Prague. A romantic place to stroll with wonderful views of the city.

From the bridge, you have a pretty good view of the Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral. Prague Castle is a huge tourist attraction. This vast complex includes palaces, a church, a monastery, museums and art galleries, viewing towers and St. Vitus Cathedral.

Last we stopped at The Rudolfinum Concert Hall in Prague which hosts a variety of programs of classical music, concerts and exhibitions. This is also the building from the movie Eurotrip when they are visiting the Louvre in Paris. (C'mon, I know you've seen it)

Along the tour there was a lot of history and a lot of jokes. I learned a lot and saw the amazing sites of Prague, which was wonderful. I Hope I did an ok job taking you all on my photo tour as well! :)


Meekiyu said...

I've never been to Prague but ya photos and description almost makes it seem like I was there. Great tidbits about all the sights. I think my favorite is the clock because it's so cool looking =D Glad ya had fun on your trip XD

Alicia said...

these are beautiful! thank you for sharing!

Prague Inspires said...

Great tips for seeing the main sights in Prague. I particularly like the photo of Church of Our Lady before Tyn - the light in the background looks lovely - almost like a painting.

Your post also reminded me of the constant contrasts in Prague. From the Gothic towers to the boulevard of Wenceslas Square, there's really a whole world of stuff here.

Anyway, thanks for the blog.


Guide to Prague

Brittney said...

Great pictures! So jealous of all your travels. We really don't take advantage of flight benefits that much, and should. It freaks me out and I'm always afraid we're going to get stranded somewhere so we almost never do it :( I'll just live vicariously through your travels!

Becky said...

Loved the pictures! I got to relive my trip just a little ;)

I had no idea about the free walking tour, though. What a great resource. Did you eat any roasted meats or dumplings? So good, but definitely nap time after!