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After the fall of communism, the Czech capital has become a popular destination. And for good reason, as Prague is extremely beautiful. It feels like a fairy-tale city. However, tourists are not only attracted by the monuments. There are numerous interesting museums, cozy cafés and good restaurants, nightlife has blossomed, and the Czech beer is not to be despised!
The city's main attraction, literally and figuratively, is the Prague Castle (Hradčany), a large complex of palaces and churches. Its silhouette is dominated by the towers of the St Vitus Cathedral, which took almost six hundred years to complete. And it shows, as the church consists of a mixture of building styles: Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance. The St Wenceslas Chapel houses the Crown Jewels, including the crown of King Wenceslas, who is buried here. The fairy-tale aspect of Prague is well reflected by the so-called Golden Lane, in the old days the domain of the goldsmiths. The houses are extremely small; a contemporary person cannot stand upright in them.
The Old Town Square is surrounded by beautiful houses with on the ground floor cafés and terraces. On the façade of the Old Town Hall you'll see the famous Astronomical clock. It not only indicates the time but also the days and the position of the moon. Every hour, two small doors open and Jesus appears followed by his apostles. We will not give away anything else; you have to see the rest of the spectacle for yourself. Keep an eye on your belongings though, as pickpockets seize their chances when tourists are watching the clock!
Prague's Jewish quarter begins on the north side of the Old Town Square. Don't think that the Nazis were the ones who invented rounding up Jews in a particular neighborhood. In the thirteenth century, the (Christian) authorities forced the Jews to settle in that part of the city. The Old New Synagogue has set up an exhibition about the history of the Jews in Bohemia and Moravia.
When you look at the top of the Petřín Hill, you may have to rub your eyes as you will see the Eiffel Tower! Well, it's a replica, but its summit reaches the same height as the real one in Paris, because the 'small Eiffel Tower' is built on a 250-meter-high hill. It goes without saying that you have a splendid view of Prague and the surrounding area from the tower.
Near the Petřín Hill you'll find the large Premonstratensian abbey. Its library is the highlight of a visit to this monastery. It holds documents from the ninth and tenth centuries, has a beautifully ornate ceiling, Baroque bookcases and, for map freaks, a number of antique globes.
The Charles Bridge is the oldest and most famous bridge of the Czech capital. When drawing the bridge, the architects possibly had one too many pilsners, as it has somewhat of an S-shape. The thirty statues on both sides were only added later, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Traffic is not allowed on the bridge and so it is an ideal spot for painters, draftsmen and street artists.
North of Prague lies Theresienstadt (Terezin). This is where the Germans set up a concentration camp during World War II. In reality, this is not really the right way to call it; it was more a kind of ghetto with a prison. It was a transit house before transportation to Auschwitz. During the war, the Germans had a propaganda film made in which Theresienstadt was presented as a model city. The movie shows imprisoned Jews who practice sports or shop inside the camp. The movie is shown in the camp's museum.
Czech glass is world-famous. One of the most renowned glassworks is located in Nižbor, just east of Prague and can be reached by rental car via the D5 freeway. When you take a guided tour, you'll learn everything about past and present glass manufacturing processes. You can also buy glass objects at a much better price than in Prague!
If you continue the D5 further to the southeast you'll pass the magnificent landscape of West Bohemia and eventually reach the birthplace of Pilsner: Pilsen (Plzeñ). Beer has been brewed here since 1295, but the Pilsner variant is credited with Pilsner Urquell and is brewed in the Prazdroj Brewery. In 1842, this brewery managed to brew a low-fermentation beer of consistent quality: Pilsner. The museum describes the history of this brewery and of course you'll also have the opportunity to taste the beer.
The city offers a wide range of hotels in all price categories. Some luxury hotels have been established in historic buildings in the city center. Prague is the Czech Republic's economic, cultural and tourist center. This implies that hotel rooms are in great demand. We therefore recommend booking your hotel room well in advance, especially during high season (from spring to fall).
Prague's center has different parking zones (orange, green and blue). The blue zone is restricted to residents, so never park here. In the orange and green zones you can park up to 2 and 6 hours respectively, by paying at a ticket machine. If you exceed the parking time or park incorrectly, chances are that you will be clamped.
Car break-ins occur often in Prague. We therefore recommend parking your car on a guarded parking lot, such as near the main train station Wilsonova, the Masaryk train station or on the Malostranské námestí. There are also parking lots near the subway stations along the main access roads, but these are not guarded. There is an underground parking garage on the námestí Jana Palacha near the Old Town Square.
Prague Airport is located sixteen kilometers northwest of the city center. You can easily reach Prague Airport by rental car: Simply drive down the Evropská Boulevard which leads directly to the airport.