Prague is the world-famous capital of Czech Republic. A European city which managed to save most of its buildings during the war, it is now overwhelmed with tourists.
We arrived in Prague after a night on the Budapest-Prague train after having missed our original train in the day. Due to missing the night in the hotel, our first day was like the road runner seeing one place after another.
Old town and Bridges
Our first destination in Prague was the Old Town Square with the town hall, skinny lanes and the astronomical clock. We arrived as the 11am bells were about to go off on the clock tower and it was jam packed. Literally, thousands of people who are normally walking around, simply stop and stare at the clock. As the clock struck 11am, the skelton doll started ringing the bell. Tick!
The old town square is so beautiful, it must be the prettiest we saw in the 4 cities we visited. All cities had their town squares but none as big or as protected as Prague. There were multiple churches, restaurants, statues and other usual things but nothing beat the church spires which were unique compare to the ones in Germany, Austria and Hungary. As we ascended the clock tower, the full glory of Prague’s beauty was upon us. Again, red roofs, the spires, the surrounding hills and the crowds below made it quite unique.
We saw the same view again during the night as the ticket allows 2 entries to the clock tower. Prague wasn’t as brilliantly lit as Budapest but it still provided some great shots.
Just a short walk from the Old town square is the Vltava river, a lot smaller than the danube, it is a river which descends down around the bend of Prague. The city is practically built around the river bends. Charles Bridge which is the 15th century bridge still survives complete with its hundreds of years old statues. Lots of people sell their wares on the bridge, paint caricatures and walk around. The Pragu castle is on a large hill above the Charles Bridge and the view is majestic!
We visited the Prague castle on the second day. The circuit ticket allowed us to see 2 churches, the golden lane and the castle walls. To be honest, the ticket wasn’t necessary to understand the castle. Most of the free areas allow the view of the best parts of the castle. The churches while grand were no different to those of other parts of Europe.
I really understood the European obsession of the separation of Church and State in Prague Castle. St Vitus church is the royal church of Prague. Entire dynasty of kings ae buried here along with archbishops, etc. Some of the saints were also kings and royals. How do you become a Saint being a royal? I assume you just paid the Pope or did a favour for the Church. Next thing you know, the people are praying to you. This sort of thing doesn’t exist to this level in English speaking countries or in India where we were born. There is no strong opinion of the separation of Church and State because most people haven’t seen royals become saints in living memory in India. Moreover, even if there are gods and godesses from the royal lineage, they are not buried/cremated in state temples.
The 2 churches were of different time periods but of the same theme. The golden lane was an interesting concept with old houses along the castle walls being kept as they were originally, a mini museum. It was good but nothing that couldn’t be missed, especially given the hundreds of people lining up for each house in the lane.
Jazz boat tour
We missed it in Budapest so decided to do a boat tour in Prague. Not any boat tour but one with a Jazz band playing. The tour started at 8:30pm and ended at 11pm. The band was great, the food ws great and the views of the city were spectacular. We got to see more of Prague than we would have if we had done it ourselves on Public Transport. A must do!
While we shopped in Budapest and Vienna, Prague was different. Here was something that Czechs actually produce and are good at: Crystals. Shruti has a liking for them as her mum collects Crystals. We bought crystals for gifts from near the old town and were very happy with the price.
While Prague is incredibly beautiful, it is also incredibly crowded. Other than the buildings which are protected, Prague isn’t all that different to other European capitals. It is also quite expensive when considered that it is in the former eastern bloc. Having that, it is still a good visit for a day or two.