Exploring Prague - Part One!
A Little Background Information…
We finally got to tick Prague off our travel bucket list in June 2019 when we chose it as the final destination of our cycling tour (from where we would fly home). The only downside of visiting Prague in June is that it’s peak tourist season. Undeterred, we sharpened our elbows and headed off on the tourist trail, battling our way along Prague’s seemingly ever packed footpaths. We covered a lot of ground, all on foot and a lot of half days due to the heatwave that also took place when we visited. In fact, due to the heatwave we spent a few days relaxing in our air-conditioned apartment as 39C is just too hot (and dangerous) for touristing!
Vítkov Park & Gardens.
Our first week in Prague we stayed in a gorgeous Airbnb in Prague 8. Vítkov Park & Gardens was one of the first places we visited as it was close to that apartment. We waited until 6pm that day to walk up to it and it was still a sweltering 29C!
The view from Vítkov Park is gorgeous and there were loads of people lying on the grass with picnic baskets, drinking wine or beers and relaxing on what was a balmy evening. If you are in the area it is definitely worth visiting. The sunsets from there are meant to be fantastic.
We walked up to the park via concrete steps located next to the train lines on the street Trocnovská. These steps then merged onto one of the tarmac paths in the park which we followed all the way to the top.
The Statue of Jan Žižka is the most recognisable element of the Vítkov Park.
“The monument was unveiled in 1950 on the anniversary of the battle on Vítkov (1420), in which the Hussites under the leadership of Jan Žižka defeated the Crusaders’ troops in this place. The bronze monument has admirable size: it is 22 m high including the pedestal and the total weight is 16.5 t. It is one of the biggest equestrian statues in the world.”
Climbing some more concrete steps you will find yourself at the Statue of Jan Žižka and from there the view is lovely (although somewhat obscured by trees).
In this next photo, taken from the statue, you can see the Žižkov Television Tower (Žižkovská Televizní Věž). The Tower has a 360’ observation deck offering a panoramic view of Prague, a bar and a bistro. For more information check out their website here.
We were too late to visit the memorial building located next to the Jan Žižka monument. You can read more about it here.
“The memorial building on top of Vítkov Hill was built between the years 1928 and 1938 in honour of the Czechoslovak legionaries. The exhibition “The Crossroads of Czech and Czechoslovak Statehood” captures significant turning points in the history of the 20th century.”
We walked back down keeping on the tarmac path and exited onto the street Husitská where we saw cool (advertisement) street-art:
Our First Day In Prague Centre:
After breakfast in our Airbnb we set off for Prague centre, choosing to walk and following the tram line. The upside of walking is that you see much more and we stumbled upon a coffee shop that we liked the look of so we stopped there too.
After about 25 minutes of walking we were in the busy Náměstí Republiky area/square. As you can see it was hard to get photos without other people or vehicles in the way.
The Royal Court used to be located on the site where the the Municipal House now is and later it was home to a King. When the Royal Court was demolished in the early 20th Century, the Municipal House was constructed (1905-1911) on the site. You can read the full history here.
The Municipal House is now used for a variety of activities. It has a concert hall and you can purchase tickets to the concerts inside. There is also a bar and a restaurant. Much of the interior is closed off to the public and can only be accessed via guided tour. Our timing was off, we just missed a guided-tour. We were anxious to keep exploring the city so we chose not to waste time waiting for the next tour.
Located next to the Municipal House is The Powder Tower (Prašná Brána). This original Gothic City Gate was built in the 15th Century. Today you can purchase a ticket to climb to the top of the tower. There is another famous city gate/powder tower located next to Prague Castle.
We then walked to Wenceslas Square (Václavské Náměstí) and followed the long avenue to the Statue of Saint Wenceslas (Pomník Svatého Václava).
The National Museum (Národní Muzeum) is located across the busy road from the Statue of Saint Wenceslas. A very impressive building that was declared a National Cultural Monument in 1962.
We continued walking, taking photos along the way as usual!
The Divadlo Na Vinohradech (The Vinohrady Theatre) can also be found here, a stunning building built in 1907.
One of the nicest things about Prague is that no matter where you wander you are surrounded by wonderful buildings and architecture. Exploring on foot is definitely one of my favourite things to do in any new city.
We had walked a good distance, exploring the Prague 2 area and so decided to make our way back towards the Old Town Square (Prague 1) which I was dying to see. We passed the Church of St. Ignatius (Kostel svatého Ignáce z Loyoly).
Then we paid a visit to the statue of well known Czech writer Franz Kafka. The statue is a bust of Franz Kafta that is 11 metres tall and made up of 42 individually rotating panels. The bust weighs 39 tonnes and was made by artist David Černý and installed in 2014. We stopped to watch it moving for a few minutes, I thought it was really cool and was glad we visited it.
Slowly we made our way into the Old Town area of Prague. We caught a glimpse of the Church of St. Gallen (Svatý Havel).
The further we walked into the Old Town the more crowded it became!
We entered the Old Town Square through the archway pictured below. This archway led us into the square with the Astronomical Clock in front of us.
The Astronomical Clock (Pražský Orloj) is one of the most famous features of the Old Town Square. It is located on the exterior wall of the Old Town Hall (Staroměstská Radnice, 1338). Every hour (9am - 11pm) the 12 apostles appear from the clock.
Next we took a proper look at the very packed Old Town Square (Staroměstské Náměstí). It is just gorgeous with all the colours, of course it was really hard to get nice photos with the crowds.
In the next two photos of the Old Town Square the Jan Hus Monument (Památník Jana Husa) is visible.
The beautiful building on the right in this photo below is the National Gallery (Palác Kinských).
You can see the huge Church of Our Lady before Týn (Chrám Matky Boží před Týnem) in these photos.
You can’t help but stop and stare at the Dům U Minuty building. This building is a:
“… typical example of Czech bourgeois Renaissance architecture. The façade is decorated with sgraffito scenes inspired by biblical and mythological scenes, as well as the themes of contemporary Renaissance legends.”
It was now approaching 4pm, a lunch stop and another coffee break had also taken place while walking the above circuit. We decided we had ticked off a reasonably amount of sights for one day and clocked up plenty of steps. It was time to make our way back to our Airbnb and plan our next day of sight-seeing which you can now read all about in Exploring Prague Part Two.
PS - If you want to read about the Letná and Holešovic areas of Prague, check out our blog article here.