Exploring Prague - Part Four!
This is it, the fourth and final instalment of our “Exploring Prague” series of blogs! If you haven’t already read Parts 1, 2 and 3 and/or our Letná blog but would like to do so now, below you will find direct links to each article:
- To read Exploring Prague - Part One click here.
- To read Exploring Prague - Part Two click here.
- To read Exploring Prague - Part Three click here.
- Lastly, to read all about the wonderful Letná neighbourhood of the Holešovice district of Prague click here.
A Little Background
Our last Prague article (Part Three) marked the end of our week in our first Airbnb in Prague 8. So, we packed up and cycled to our next Airbnb which was located in the Letná neighbourhood of the Holešovice district in Prague 7, on the other side of the river Vltava. As mentioned above, we have a full blog article about Letná so I am not going to go into that here, just to say Letná a great place to base yourself while in Prague, far enough from the city to be free of the crowds but within walking distance to many of Prague’s main attractions.
Rise and Shine
We got up early in Letná as we read online that it was once again going to be a very hot 30C+ day in Prague. Our plan was to be at the Petrin Tower for opening time (or close to it) at 10am.
Walking in via Letná Park, it was a gorgeous morning:
We could see the Petrin Tower in the distance too:
Our walk brought us past the main entrance to Queen Anne’s Summer Palace and the Royal Garden within it (which is meant to be gorgeous) but it wasn’t open to visitors - perhaps we were too early! Anyway, our main focus was to get to the Petřín Tower for opening time in the hope of avoiding long queues and wait times that we had also read about online.
We continued walking on along the street Mariánské hradby and then took a left onto U Prašného mostu which brought us to the Prague Castle Riding School.
We arrived at a back/side entrance to Prague Castle with a nice alternative view of St. Vitus Cathedral:
Luckily we were able to continue through some of the Castle grounds, through the second courtyard and exit via the Matthias Gate (Matyášova Brána) which we hadn’t seen before (one of the reasons we chose this particular walking route to the Petřín Tower).
According to prague.cz the Matthias Gate is:
“… the earliest work of Baroque architecture in Bohemia. It was built in 1614 as a triumphant antique arch, standing separately between the Castle Square and the Prague Castle.”
In the photo below you can see Kohl’s Fountain (Kohlova Kašna) which is a:
“… richly decorated Baroque fountain, made in 1686 by J. Kohl and Italian stonemason F. della Torre.” (According to here.)
The next photo below was taken with my back to the arch looking at the Wrestling Titans that sit on top of the pillars at this gate into the Castle:
Below you can see the same Wrestling Titans and the Matthias Gate in the background:
And the same below, the creamy yellow building behind and surrounding the arch is the Government Office Správa Pražského Hradu. You can also see the back of the bronze Statue of Tomáš Garrigue (Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk) who was first president of the Czechoslovak Republic.
Hradčanské Square from where I took these photos is located next to the Castle entrance and it is gorgeous, there are so many beautiful, important buildings there. Like the building below on the right:
This stunning building is the Archbishop Palace (Arcibiskupský Palác), the administrative offices from which the Archbishop and his team of staff administer the territory of the Archdiocese. According to apha.cz:
“The Prague Archdiocese is the oldest existing diocese in the Czech Republic and the metropolitan archdiocese of the Czech ecclesiastical province, including the dioceses of České Budějovice, Hradec Králové, Litoměřice and Plzeň. The Archbishop of Prague is also the primate, the formal head of the Catholic Church in the Czech Republic.”
A little further away on the left is the National Gallery of Prague - Schwarzenberg Palace (Národní galerie Praha – Schwarzenberský Palác). The exterior of the Palace is beautiful. According to ngprague.cz:
“The Schwarzenberg Palace, the dominant of Hradčanské Square, is one of the most beautiful and important Renaissance buildings in Prague. For Count John Jr. It was built by the architect Agostino de Galli (Augustin Vlach) from 1545 to 1567, when the Prague Castle was restored after a great fire.”
Toskánský Palace (Toskánský Palác), some of the offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic are located here.
A little further up the street on the left you will come to the Strahov Monastery (Strahovský Klášter).
“The Royal Canonry of Premonstratensians in Strahov is one of the oldest existing monasteries of the Premonstratensian Order in the world. Since the arrival of the first Premonstratensians in 1143, the religious community has been successfully developing religious life and has played an important role in the history of the Czech lands throughout its history.” (From here.)
There is a path to the left that you can take and it will bring you underneath the Monastery for great views. You can follow this same path all the way to the Petřín Tower. There are signposts so you won’t miss it.
The path through the forest up to the Petřín Tower, it was already 31C at 9.30am!
The Petřín Tower
We arrived at the Petřín Tower (Petřínská Rozhledna) about five minutes before opening and joined the small queue that had already formed. The Petřín Tower was built in 1891, more about the tower below, taken from here:
“The foundations of the tower were laid 11 meters deep and a 63.5 meter high steel structure weighing 175 tonnes was built on them. The core of the structure is an octagonal tube in which an elevator is placed, around which two winding staircases with 299 steps wind - one for walking up, the other for walking down. The entire structure is braced by elements of the shape of St. Andrew’s crosses.”
Ticket sales started promptly at 10am and it wasn’t long before we were on our way. We chose to walk up, the tickets were cheaper than taking the lift, there was no queue to walk up (the lift was tiny and most people were queuing to take it) and taking the stairs wasn’t an issue for us.
About half way up there is an observation deck which was empty when we got there. A great view of Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral and the city even from half way!
The Strahov Monastery is in the bottom left of the following photo:
In the next photo you can see the Žižkovská Television Tower (Žižkovská Televizní Věž) in the distance which also has an observation deck. You can also see the roof of St. Lawrence Church (Katedrální chrám sv. Vavřince) on the right of the photo.
We continued up to the top observation deck for even better views. In the first photo below you can see the Strahov Monastery and a red arrow highlighting the path that we took from the monastery to the Petřín Tower:
The view from the top observation deck:
St Lawrence Church seen again below and surrounding gardens:
We made our way back down to the ground level. There is a cafe and a gift shop located at there.
Leaving the Petřín Tower behind us, we walked back through the forest/park were we emerged at the monastery once again. We then took a right at the monastery and walked along a pathway before turning left onto the street Nerudova. This is a really lovely old street with lots to see.
We passed by the back of the National Gallery of Prague (Schwarzenberg Palace).
Taking our time we walked along looking at the buildings, in the shop windows and then we stopped for coffee and cake in Cafe Designum, after all our walking we were in need of refreshments.
Prague’s wonderful architecture continued to amaze us:
We spent some time just walking around, with no where to be it was really nice and relaxed. We made our way back to Letná and had lunch there. Another great day exploring Prague.
Final Thoughts on Prague
We had two weeks in Prague in total and really loved it. There is so much to see and do, I already have a list of places for our next visit. As the weather was very hot, some days we just chilled out (literally) in our apartment but after all our cycling this was needed down time too. We found food, drinks and attractions to be quite reasonably priced, once you avoided the real tourist areas like the Old Town Square. It was great to stay in two totally different districts as well as we got to see some of the less touristy quieter areas. We look forward to returning to Prague again and we hope you enjoyed reading these blogs.