Prague

Sightseeing guide for Prague

St. Vitus Cathedral

For more than 600 years, the roofs of Prague Castle have been overlooked by the towers of St. Vitus Cathedral. The cathedral is the biggest and the most important church in the Czech Republic. It' s the seat of the Archbishop of Prague and the place where saints, kings, princes and emperors of Bohemia are buried. The coronations of the kings of Bohemia were held there until 1836. The western part of the cathedral is characterized by two tall towers and the Rose Window. The dominant of the east side, the Bell Tower, holds Zikmund, the biggest bell in the Czech Republic. To the right of the tower is the former main entrance to the cathedral called Golden Portal. A large mosaic above the entrance was made in a Bohemian glass factory with the assistance of Italian artists. It depicts the Last Judgement. The masterpiece of St Vitus Cathedral is St Wenceslas Chapel created in the 14th century by Charles IV in honour of St Wenceslas. There is also a mausoleum that consists of the tombstones of Ferdinand I of Austria, his wife Anna of Bohemia and the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II. The royal crypt underneath the cathedral contains the graves of Charles IV, his four wives, Wenceslas IV, , Rudolf II and the daughter of Maria Theresa of Austria Marie Amalie of Austria.

Charles Bridge

In the place that Charles Bridge is standing today, there once stood a wooden bridge, destroyed by floods in the 11th century. The construction of the bridge began during the reign of Charles IV. An unusual thing said about the construction of the bridge is that egg yolks were used to strengthen the mortar to bind the stone blocks. The construction started by Master Otto and continued by king Charles' favourite constructor and architect, Peter Parler. The bridge finished in 1402. The bridge is 516 meters long and nearly 10m wide, resting on 16 arches shielded by ice guards. It is protected by three bridge towers, two of them on the Lesser Quarter side and the third one on the Old Town side. The bridge is decorated with 30 baroque style statues.

Lookout Tower on Petrin

The Observation tower has 299 stairs to climb and is in blue red colours decorated at night that make it look romantic. One of the best views over Prague and its surroundings can be seen from this point. v

Old Town Square

The history of the square dates back to the 10th century, when the place was one of the favourite markets in Prague. The Square is dominated by the monument of Jan Hus, one of the most important Czech reformers and nationalists. He was born in 1369 and was the first rector of Charles University. The buildings from the Old Town Square are a collage of different architectural styles. Gothic architecture along with cubist era houses and beautiful baroque constructions are to be seen.

Powder Tower

The construction of the 65m tall Powder tower begun in 1475 under the reign of King Vladislav II. It used to form one of the 13 entrances to the Old Town and contribute to the beauty of the Royal Court, the king' s residence. The New Tower was built in harmony with the Old Town Bridge Tower designed by Peter Parler. The gate acquired its present name in the 17th century when it was used to store gunpowder.

St. Nicholas Cathedral

The whole construction of the St. Nicholas Cathedral was finished in 1752 with the 80 meters high bell-tower, modified by Anselmo Lurago. Both the greenish Dome and Bell Tower are now symbols of Prague. Often there are many concerts held here. The ecclesiastical organ at which played Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in person is still used today.

National Museum

The National Museum is the largest museum in the Czech Republic. It houses a vast collection of exhibits documenting the richness of the nature, culture and history. The museum was founded in 1818. The building of the National Museum was finally inaugurated in 1891. The imposing staircase decorated by 16 paintings of Czech castles and other important places leads to the most exquisite hall of the museum, the Pantheon. The Pantheon contains statues of famous Czech scholars, writers and artists. A high glass cupola crowns the roof.

Old Town City Hall

Part of the Old Town City Hall building was destroyed during the last days of the Second Wold War in 1945. The 69,5 m tall Town Hall Tower, hosting the astronomical clock was built in the 14th century and given a neo-Gothic facade in the 15th century. From the top you can admire the view to the square and the rest of Prague.

The Astronomical Clock

The astronomical clock was constructed in 1410 by the clockmaker Mikulas of Kadan in collaboration with Jan Ondrejuv called Sindel, professor of mathematics and astronomy of Prague Charles University. 80 years later, the legendary master Hanus rebuilt the clock and as legend has it, the Councilors had him blinded, so that he would never repeat this construction. The figures of the 12 apostles, blessing the city at every hour were added in more recent times, during the major repair work carried out between the years 1865-1866. Except the figures of the 12 apostoles there are also 8 immobile figures on the left and right side of the clock and the calendar. Among them is the figure of Vanity, admiring himself in a mirror and a Jew holding into his bag of gold, Death ringing his bell and a Turk shaking his head, a chronicler, an angel, an astronomer and a philosopher. The Clock Tower is also decorated with exquisite coats of arms and different royal symbols. The Sphere or clock dial shows the most important astronomical events such as the movement of the sun, phases of the moon, the equinoxes, the seasons, the days and the zodiac. As a result you can see anything but the time.

National Theater

One of the most beautiful buildings in Prague is the National Theater. It was constructed with money collected from all social classes due to insufficient funds. The construction began in 1868. In 1881, the neo-Renaissance construction was opened for a first performance that took place in the honour of Crown Prince Rudolf. During the same year, a big fire destroyed almost the whole building, but restoration work began almost immediately. The theater served its purposes with loyalty for almost a century when in 1977 it closed for reconstruction.

The seat of the Senate of the Czech Republic

Wallenstein palace is the first large secular palace of the Baroque era surrounded by the Wallenstein Garden with the Wallenstein Riding school. Its glory was supposed to overshadow even the Prague Castle. Constructions of the palace started in 1624. The character of the interior of the palace is mainly Italian. The ceremonial Knights' hall is decorated by a fresco painting by Baccio del Bianca representing Wallenstein as Mars, the god of war. This magnificent hall rises to a height of two floors. Albert von Wallenstein spent only 12 month in this palace before he was killed in 1634 on emperor' s orders. The majority of valuable arts of work were stolen by the Swedish during the war.

Wallenstein Garden

Wallenstein Garden is probably the first palace garden in Prague. It belongs to the Wallenstein Palace, nowadays the seat of the Senate of the Czech Republic. The garden was built together with the palace in 1623. There are many concerts and theater performances organized in Sala terrena nowadays. Entering the garden from the palace, you will see a large wall opposite the entrance. This is a wall with artificial stalactites imitating limestone cave (grotta). To the right of the cave you can see an aviary for exotic birds. Many statues and fountains that you can see in Wallenstein Garden are copies of the original ones made by famous Dutch artist Adrian de Vries. The original ones were stolen by the Swedish during the war. The statues represent heroes from the Greek mythology. There is a small pond with ducks and a magnificent fountain.

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