While I’ve always heard of Bohemia, it’s only recently that I actually knew where it was. It turns out that it’s a region in the Czech Republic and Prague is it’s capital. So welcome to Bohemia 🙂
And what a beautiful place it is. Prague is like a fairytale. Especially the area of Old Town. We were lucky enough in this case to not have snow which is rare this time of year. I think snow would have made it perfect though – but a little too cold to walk around 7-8 hours a day. So thankful in this case that we didn’t have any! This fairytale feeling was only compounded by the fact that the Christmas Markets were still in full swing.
We spent a lot of time wandering the markets while we were in town, but we also took time to explore both the Old Town and the Lesser Town. The two are separated by the Vltava River. With over 1100 years of history, there was something to see at every corner. And while there have been tumultuous times during Prague’s history, the beauty of it has somehow managed to escape unscathed.
As our hotel was in New Town, we took the metro each day down to Wenceslas Square. We’d meander along – letting the sights direct us to something new to explore. No plan in mind, just a desire to see as much of the city as we could in just a few short days.
We walked by both the Powder Tower (odd name!) and the Municipal House. The Powder Tower was built in the 1400 as an entrance to the Old City. At one point it was used as a gunpowder storage facility, hence it’s name of the Powder Tower. Next to it is the Municipal House which was actually built in the early 1900s (I would have thought much earlier!).
The gate seemed to be the perfect place to bear left – beckoning us to head into the Old Town (without our realizing that’s where we were heading).
We finally made it towards Old Town Square. As I mentioned before, I found the feel of the square to be similar to Tallinn, Estonia with all the beautifully colored buildings and wide open space (the space at this time being used for the Christmas markets). Many buildings had frescoes painted on them – the detail so ornate and telling stories of days of old I’m sure.
But that doesn’t mean the other buildings weren’t just as beautiful, because they were!
While the whole square is a sight to see, many flock here for the Astronomical Clock, the Orloj. It was constructed in 1410 and is the 3rd oldest astronomical clock in the world and the only one still operating. People gather in huge crowds (in a very small space) to wait until the clock strikes the hour and to view the “Walk of the Apostles” where parts of the clock open for you to see their movements. And while the clock is stunning and impressive, the Walk of the Apostles is short and nothing to write home about (and yet here I am doing just that). It reminds me of the clock in Munich, the Rathaus-Glockenspiel. Regardless, the clock is beautiful and you should definitely check it out if you are in Prague.
No matter which area you enter or exit the square, the buildings are just as stunning in every direction.
We also made our way over to Lesser Town where Prague Castle overlooks the Vltava River. I find it odd that the castle is located in an area called “Lesser” Town. To me the word lesser would be more of a degrading word but I’m assuming it’s not in that context. Anyways, we had to cross the Charles Bridge in order to get to the Castle. The bridge reminded me of the Rialto in Venice and the Ponte Vecchio in Florence – just jam packed with people as far as the eye could see.
There are towers on either side of the bridge. We only climbed up the one in Lesser Town (more on that later) but we walked through the arch of the Old Town Tower on to the Charles Bridge.
The bridge itself was constructed back in 1357 and while has sustained damage in previous floods, has remained overall intact during this time. At one point it was the only land based way to get from one side of the river to the other for any significant distance along the river. Now, it is a pedestrian only route to get from Old Town to Lesser Town.
We didn’t just go across the bridge but took a boat ride along the river as well. Of course when we did that, we didn’t realize it basically took us to the same places we’d already been but it was nice to change up the perspective a little bit!
Eventually we made it across the bridge, it was still quite a hike to get to the castle, and all uphill, but at least it was met with beautiful views along the way, making the trek easy on the eyes.
At the top, the views of the city were amazing. I was disappointed to not be able to get a good view of the river though. Perhaps if we had gone inside the Cathedral or the Castle we might have had those views. But the boys pleaded “enough castles” (ahhhh life in Europe) and we gave in, just looking around the outside of both.
On our way back, before crossing over the Charles Bridge, we climbed to the top of the tower on the Lesser Town side. The views were as spectacular as we expected.
Interestingly enough, not all the sights were of things that were old. We somehow came across an Apple Museum! The boys and Josh were like kids in a candy store – so excited about all the Apple products from the “beginning of time” until today. Ahhhh my little tech geeks 🙂
While in Prague, we also had a chance to visit with one of Aidan’s friends that he knew from when we lived in Barcelona. We had a great lunch with him and his family, reminiscing about old times!
We also came across a little ice skating rink while we were there. The kids had a great time skating in the non-freezing weather. And the best part was there was no limit to the time they could skate. One fee, skate for as long as you like (or until mom and dad are feeling a bit frozen!).
We had a great time exploring Prague. The city has so much more to see and we covered such a small little bit but I think probably some of it’s most beautiful sights. I look forward to going back again someday!
Knuffels en kussen,