The lovely lady of the Vltava
Prague - a stroll through the city
"Prague never let’s you go ... this dear little mother has sharp claws," is what Franz Kafka had to say about the city of his birth and his mixed feelings of love towards it. In his words, he captures the special atmosphere that casts its spell on all visitors to Prague.
The capital of the Czech Republic, Prague positively overpowers its visitors with the wealth of its cultural riches, the diversity of its architecture, the wonderful sights to see and the many breath-taking vistas.
The unique panorama of the city is dominated by the Hradčany, the historic quarter on the castle mount, with Prague Castle, one of the most extensive castle complexes anywhere in the world. Czech rulers and presidents have resided here since the 9th century. At its core is the gothic St. Vitus’ Cathedral, the Czech Republic’s largest church, which took almost 600 years to build and was only finally completed in 1929.
Part of the fortress is Golden Lane, a collection of tiny houses, where alchemists are reported to have devoted themselves to finding the fabled philosopher’s stone, which would allow base metals to be turned into gold. Franz Kafka also lived here for a time, in House No. 22.
The way to the Old Town leads across the River Vltava. With countless visitors, musicians and traders, the famous Charles Bridge, in particular, is usually full of bustle. Early risers, though, will still have the magnificent structure, named after Charles IV, with all its wonderful photo motifs, (largely) to themselves. Entry to the Old Town is through the highly ornamented Old Town Gate Tower, which also offers a magnificent view of the bridge, the castle and the river.
After just a few minutes’ walk, you find yourself on the Old Town Ring with its splendid renaissance and baroque buildings. A major attraction for visitors is the only recently renovated Astronomical Clock on the Old Town Hall. At each full hour, this mechanical miracle from the 15th century presents a brief but fascinating spectacle depicting the transitoriness of life.
Prague is a city that offers the good things in life. Whether your choice is for traditional Bohemian or modern international cuisine, a beer before, with or after your meal should never be lacking in one of Europe’s best beer cities. Speaking of which, the widest choice of top local beers is said to be available at Zly Casy (› Bad Times ‹), a pub in the city’s Nulse district, which has meanwhile acquired cult status, with at least 48 beers on tap.
Visitors wanting to leave the beaten track can find out more about otherwise unknown aspects of the Czech metropolis by taking special themed tours guided by insiders (can be booked through Prague City Tourism, among other channels). An especially delightful way to see Prague is from the water. A tour on a traditional canal boat provides the opportunity to explore hidden spots and discover new Astronomical Clock aspects of the Lovely Lady of the Vltava.
»From here, you have the whole of Prague at your feet. At 216 metres, the Tower Park is the city’s highest building. Enjoy the breathtaking view, perhaps over a relaxed meal or a delicious cocktail. A sight not to be missed are the huge Baby sculptures of artists David Černý climbing up the sides of the former television tower.«
»You are probably familiar with excellent waiters, but have you ever experienced a waiter made of shiny metal and a fully automated heart? In this advanced restaurant, a KUKA robot pours your wine. You can also order snacks, soups, salads and much more simply via a mobile phone app.«