Dobry den! When I travel, I am looking for a cultural experience. I like to interact with people, learn about the country’s history, and architecture is like candy for my eyes. If you’re like me, then you’ll love Prague. Here’s how I would describe Prague: colourful, rich in history, and proud.
Let’s start with a bit of history: Prague was founded in the 7th century, during the Romanesque era. Today, Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic, a country that gained back its independence from the Soviet Union in 1989 through the Velvet Revolution, when the communist regime collapsed.
As Prague is becoming a more and more popular travel destination, you might sometimes find it featured on Flytrippers’ cheap flight deals page.
When my husband and I started planning our honeymoon, we were researching different capital cities, looking for something different. We wanted to get a taste of Eastern Europe and based on pictures and what we had heard of it, Prague seemed like a perfect choice. We were charmed by the beauty of the city and its people!
Here are the 3 reasons I loved this city – and my top 5 things to do and see in Prague.
1. Medieval Prague
First, because of its history and geographical location, you might think Prague is a grey, cold capital. On the contrary! The pastel-coloured baroque buildings brighten up the city like no other, so a walk in Prague is like candy for the eyes even on rainy days (and we did experience quite a bit of rain while we were there).
The capital has a rich medieval history and thankfully, a lot of its medieval architecture has survived for centuries and can be admired today. There are several Gothic churches and, of course, the popular medieval Astronomical Clock which is the center of attention at the Old Town Square.
2. The people
Prague will charm you with the warmth & kindness of its people. As both a graduate in languages and a passionate language learner, I always make it a point to learn a few words in the language of the country I visit. Learning some Czech enriched my experience in this beautiful capital.
We all know people appreciate when tourists make the effort to learn some words in their language; it shows an interest in their culture and it creates greater interactions. We had the opportunity to chat with a few people during our stay – both the locals and the several Russian expats that crossed our path were most welcoming!
The Czechs are a proud people and they have a reason to be! Due to their oppressive past under the rule of the Soviet Union, they have an aversion for everything Russian. Having fought to gain back their country’s independence and escape the communist era, they are really proud of their Czech culture, language & history.
Coming from a French-Canadian background that has its own history of language and cultural identity struggles, it truly touched me to see the Czech people’s pride and strong cultural identity.
In fact, the Museum of Communism is a must for someone who wishes to learn about the Czech’s communist history, to understand where these people come from and what they have overcome.
3. Czech specialties
As a vegetarian, I no longer eat meat. But back when I visited Prague I did and the traditional Czech meals like the “svickova” or the “goulash” were delicious. Czech cuisine is very tasty. The meals are traditional, somewhat heavy and very affordable!
The “knedliky”, a traditional Czech boiled dumpling made of bread is a staple food. It accompanies many traditional meals and is really good with the cream sauce served in the “svickova” (sirloin steak with vegetables and cream sauce).
If you like beer, you’ll be pleased! According to my husband, Czech beers are both delicious and ridiculously cheap!
Finally, the “trdelnik” is a traditional pastry made from fried dough in the form of a cylinder filled with sugar, nutella and fruits. Delicious!!!
The best of Prague
So what is there to do in Prague?
Here is my TOP 5:
1. Charles Bridge (Karluv Most)
Constructed during the medieval era, this popular bridge crosses the Vltava River and is a beautiful piece of architecture!
2. Old Town Square (Staré Mesto)
Large square in the centre of the city, with colourful buildings, churches, terraces and restaurants, and of course the old town hall with its popular 600 year-old medieval Astronomical Clock (or Orloj). Interesting fact: since 1992, the historic centre of Prague is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
3. Walking tour with a guide
Booking a walking tour is a must! It’s a great cultural experience as it allows you to discover the historical part of Prague by foot with a tour guide, so you get all kinds of historical information and some tours, like ours, also included a small cruise (with a drink in hand) on the Vltava river and a delicious meal in a traditional medieval restaurant.
4. Museum of Communism
At first glance, this museum does look like it needs to be slightly revamped. However, it’s a great exhibit if you are interested in history in general and in the Czech communist period. You’ll learn about the Czech society and life under the Communist regime through several videos, pictures, written texts and actual items from that period. Understanding the Czechs’ communist past is essential to truly appreciate today’s Prague and the Czech people’s strong identity.
5. Prague Castle (Pražský hrad)
Seen in the background of almost all pictures of Prague, the Prague Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered an ancient symbol of the Czech state. Standing tall and wide on a 70,000 meter-square area, it is the largest castle complex in the world and overlooks the Vltava river and the city. The Prague castle also serves as the office of the President of Czech Republic.
Prague is a true gem where you can get the best of what traveling really is: discovering a culture of amazing and proud people, learning about a unique, rich history and beautiful architecture, and enjoying great local food!
Have you been to Prague? What are your must-sees? Tell us in the comments below!
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Cover image: a view of Prague (photo credit: Emilie Vachon, guest-blogger)
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