Prague

MAGICAL CITY OF A HUNDRED SPIRES
 

Prague of a hundred spires, Prague, the mother of cities, magical Prague: these are just three of the names that have been given to the capital of the Czech Republic, a city with over a thousand years of history, which is included in UNESCO’s list of heritage sites. The Castle that dominates the city, which is in the Guinness book of records as the largest in the world, is also the most visited Czech monument. Built in the year 870, this majestic castle was progressively enlarged and, together with the Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslas and Adalbert, comprises a complex of structures that represent all the architectural styles of the last millennium.
The most romantic place in the castle is Golden Lane, where alchemists of Emperor Rudolf Il resided and where the writer Franz Kafka once lived. Today it is the home of craftsmen and artists.  The castle also houses a vast art gallery.
 
 
The Powder Tower, once equipped with cannons, today houses a permanent exhibition dedicated to the guards of the castle. A permanent exhibition on the history of the castle is found in the Gothic underground passages of the Old Royal Palace, which is accessed from the 3rd courtyard along the right-hand side of the cathedral. The Imperial Stables are also fitted out to hold exhibitions. The Belvedere, built in the sixteenth century in the eastern corner of the Royal Garden, is the farthest building from the castle and one of the most beautiful examples of Renaissance architecture in central Europe.
The Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslas and Adalbert appears to be in Gothic style, but was originally a Romanesque rotonda and then a three-naved basilica. Building of the Gothic cathedral, which was begun by Charles IV in 1344, lasted almost 600 years. The king’s crypt can be found beneath the main altar. The centre of worship of the church is the very beautiful and richly decorated Chapel of St. Wenceslas, where the coronation ceremonies of the kings and queens of Bohemia were held.
 
 
Here the crown jewels, made of fine gold encrusted with pearls and precious stones, are kept. The ruby in St. Wenceslas’ crown is the largest in the world. Six of the nine largest sapphires in the world are set in the same crown, which also includes a twig that belonged to Jesus’ crown of thorns. A balcony open to the public in the bell tower offers a view from above of the church, the castle complex and the entire city of Prague.
In addition to the Castle Cathedral, Prague has three other important churches. The best known is the Romanesque Basilica of St. George, dating back to the year 920, with the adjoining Monastery of St. George, founded half a century later and today the seat of the National Gallery.
 
 
Charles Bridge, 10 metres wide and 516 metres long, rests on 16 stone arches and is the oldest bridge in Prague. Both sides are protected by bridge towers, one on the Old Town side and  two on the Lesser Quarter side. The bridge is decorated with 30 baroque statues and decorations dating back to the eighteenth century, which represent saints and historical and biblical figures. The bridge is the much-loved location of street artists (painters, musicians, dancers and mimes).
The Old Town’s clock, located on the Gothic Town Hall, is a masterpiece of science and medieval technique as well as a gem of Gothic art. Each hour between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. statues of the twelve apostles appear in the two small windows. There are also figures of a Skeleton, a Turk, a Jew and a Vanity. After the apostles appear, a cock crows and the tower clock begins to chime. The tower the Old Town Hall can also be climbed.

By Luca Lembi
Photo:  Czech Tourism 

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Published on Avion Tourism N53
MONUMENTS
PRAGUE CASTLE
Pražský hrad
The largest Castle in the world for its courtyards, palaces, museums and garden which has been the seat of Czech kings, emperors and presidents for a thousand years. The Castle is dominated by the monumental St. Vitus Cathedral in Gothic style, which is one of the most beautiful in Europe. Visit the Golden Lane with colourful miniature houses and also the house where lived the writer Franz Kafka.
www.hrad.cz
 
OLD TOWN SQUARE
Staroměstské náměstí 1
The most beautiful square in Prague with the elegant Tower of the Town Hall with the world famous astronomical Clock, the proud silhouette of the fairytale Týn Cathedral, the monumental Church of St. Nicholas and also countless multicoloured houses of many styles.
 
ASTRONOMICAL CLOCK
Staroměstské náměstí 1/3
The Prague Astronomical Clock of the Middle Ages amazes people with its procession of Apostles, moving statues and visualization of time like no other instrument in the world. at the top of every hour figures on the sides of the clock become animated and two windows open up to reveal 12 apostles greeting the city. On the sides of the clock you’ll see a skeleton ringing a bell, a Turk shaking his head, a miser with a purse full of money, and Vanity looking in a mirror. The whole performance ends with the crowing of a golden rooster and the ringing of the huge bell at the top of the tower.
www.orloj.eu
 

 
CHILD OF PRAGUE
Klášter Pražského Jezulátka - Karmelitská 9
The Child of Prague is located in the Church of Our Lady Victorious, in the Lasser Quarter, and is a wax statue which is attributed miraculous powers comes from Spain. It is only 45 centimetres in height, although its spiritual importance far exceeds the borders of the Czech Republic.
www.pragjesu.info
 
CHURCH OF ST. NICHOLAS
Malostranské náměstí
One of the most beautiful Baroque structures in Europe, is located in Lesser Quarter for 300 years. The incredible ceiling frescoes, some of the largest in Europe, are accompanied by a wealth of sculptural works in the nave. Is possible to see the huge organ at which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart once played.
www.stnicholas.cz/en
 
CHARLES BRIDGE
The Charles Bridge has monumental Gothic towers at both of its ends, ad is a romantic location. With the powerful silhouette of Prague Castle in the background and the gallery of Baroque statues on both sides, it is one of the most beautiful places in Europe. Is possible to step onto the Charles Bridge from the Old Town or Lesser Quarter side.
www.muzeumkarlovamostu.cz
 

 
MUSEUMS
NATIONAL GALLERY IN PRAGUE
Staroměstské náměstí 12
In Sternberg Palace in Hradčany you will find a collection of European art from antiquity through the Baroque. The works on display include those by Tintoretto, Ribera, El Greco, Rubens, van Dyck and Rembrandt, as well as one of the most famous paintings in the world, The Feast of the Rosary by Albrecht Dürer.
www.ngprague.cz
 
DOX - CENTRE FOR CONTEMPORARY ART
The DOX Centre for Contemporary Art is located in a reconstructed industrial building in the Holešovice district and offers, since its opening in 2008, exhibitions, guided tours, and a selection of works by leading Czech designers and conceptual artists.
www.dox.cz
 

 
EXCURSIONS
THE KRKONOŠE MOUNTAINS
The Krkonoše Mountains are an ideal location in every season. In winter offer landscape on downhill or cross-country skis, trips to the waterfalls or atop the mountain peaks. Ski resorts of the Krkonoše Mountains: Špindlerův Mlýn, Pec pod Sněžkou, Harrachov, and Rokytnice nad Jizerou.
www.krkonose.eu - www.kralovehradeckyregion.cz
 
THE KRKONOŠE NATIONAL PARK
Wonderful landscape with high mountain slopes, flat ridges, alpine meadows with wildflowers, presided over by the mountain Sněžka. The Krkonoše National Park is located in Vrchlabí, where is possible to visit an Augustinian monastery and four historical houses on the town square of náměstí Míru and the Krkonoše Museum. The Krkonoše is included on the Unesco list of biosphere reserves.
www.krnap.cz
 
TOURIST OFFICES
Prague City Tourism - Arbesovo nám. 70/4 - Prague 5
www.praguecitytourism.cz
CzechTourism Information Centre - Staroměstské náměstí 6 - Prague 1
www.czechtourism.com
 
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