Prague is the capital city of the relatively small Czech Republic which lies in the heart of Europe, bordering Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Poland.
Prague (Praha) has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. No other European capital contains six hundred years of architecture so completely untouched by natural disaster or war. Prague’s rich collection of Gothic, baroque, and Renaissance buildings has emerged unscathed from centuries of strife.
Prague has been called ‘the Rome of the North’. Rome was built on seven hills, and Prague was built on nine hills: Letna, Vitkov, Opys, Vetrov, Skalka, Emauzy, Vysehrad, Karlov and the highest of all, Petrin. The mountains, forests and lakes surrounding Prague are enchanting and ideal for outdoor holidays as well as winter sports.
Central Prague is made up of four towns, joined together in 1784. The River Vltava (Moldau in German) divides the capital into two unequal halves: on the steeply inclined left bank, are Hradcany and Malá Strana (the Lesser Quarter). The more gentle, sprawling right bank includes Staré Mesto, Josefov and Nové Mesto.
Hradcany, on the hill, contains the most sights: the castle itself, the cathedral and the former palaces of the aristocracy. Below Hradcany, Malá Strana (Little Quarter), with its narrow eighteenth-century streets, is the city’s ministerial and diplomatic quarter, with attractive Baroque gardens for all to enjoy. Over the river, on the right bank, Staré Mesto (Old Town) is a web of alleys and passageways centered on the city’s most beautiful square, Staromestské námesti. Enclosed within the boundaries of Staré Mesto is Josefov, the old Jewish quarter, now containing only a few synagogues and a cemetery. Nové Mesto (New Town), the focus of the modern city, covers the largest area, laid out in long wide boulevards, the most famous of which is Wenceslas Square. These boulevards stretch south and east of the old town.
In the years since students took to the streets and the communist regime ended, Prague has enjoyed an unparalleled cultural renaissance. Amid Prague’s cobblestone streets and gold-tipped spires, new galleries, cafés, and clubs serve “expatriates.” Prague has somehow emerged as Eastern Europe’s new Left Bank
Prague Castle has stood on the hill overlooking the Old Town since the 10th century. The city grew around the castle over the centuries. A good way to begin exploration of the wonders of Prague is to take a ride on tram #22 for a free sightseeing tour of downtown Prague. From Vinohrady in the west, it will travel across the river, around several hair-pin bends, finishing up outside Prague Castle.
Then walk or ride the Royal Route downhill from Prague Castle, through Malá Strana (Lesser Town), and across Charles Bridge to Old Town Square. The crossing of the 1,700 foot span of the bridge is an adventure in itself! The bridge is lined with more than 30 sculptures and serves as a venue for performances of puppeteers and musicians. The trip retraces the route taken by the carriages of the Bohemian kings, with the difference that today the way is lined with galleries, shops, and cafés. Be sure to glance up on the hour as the Astronomical Clock of the Old Town Hall on Staromestské námestí comes to life with its procession of mechanical figures.
Take all the time you can to wander through the narrow winding streets of Staré Mêsto (Old Town). This is the moment to be wearing a comfortable pair of broken – in walking shoes. The cobblestones and hills of Prague require that careful attention be paid to preparing the feet for the journey.
When it is time to rest, numerous cafés offering food, coffee, tea, and fine varieties of locally brewed beer are readily available. Another activity providing relaxation as well as a fascinating afternoon or evening, is a tourboat trip down the Vltava past the castles and palaces of the region. Some tours provide a meal as well. For the more adventurous, there is the possibility of a “do it yourself ” boat tour via rowboat. Lanterns are added at night to create an aura of romance in and around the rented dinghies. Visitors to Charles Bridge after dark will encounter a lively scene, as musicians and street performers congregate to celebrate the night.
An afternoon with the family in the park at the site of the Citadel on Vyserhad also provides a break from the bustle of the city.
A 30-minute train ride south of Prague leads to the most visited Czech landmark in the area around Prague, Karlstejn Castle built by Charles IV in the 14th century to protect the Holy Roman Empire’s crown jewels. This Romanesque hilltop fortress is of interest to adults and children alike.
Mozart experienced moderate success in Vienna, but he triumphed in Prague! Classical music still seems to be everywhere in the city. Tickets are reasonably priced, and the musical performances are superb.
Food in Prague is often based on Austro-Hungarian dishes. Specialties include bramborak, a potato pancake filled with garlic and herbs, and Prague ham. However, a wide range of culinary options exists. Among these are American, Italian, Lebanese, and Japanese cuisine.
Shopping is a favorite pastime also. Arcades under the buildings of Wenceslas Square, along the pedestrian only street of Na Príkope and also along Narodní tríada shoppers discover a variety of quality products ranging from books to antiques, to crystal. There are interesting craft shops on Karlova, near the Charles Bridge. Puppets and marionettes that are works of art can also be discovered in these areas.
The beauty and classical elegance of the buildings, streets, passageways and alleys of this “Golden City” will provide a colorful mosaic of memories that will remain long after the visit has concluded
496 sq km
235 m (average)
Greenwich Mean Time plus one hour (two hours in summer): Time in Prague is 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in New York. (7 hours ahead of central time in Chicago, etc.) Prague uses the 24 hour clock, so the numeral 1 on a US watch would be read as 1 in the early morning or 13 in the afternoon, etc. Transportation timetables and schedules will use this method of representation of time. (designations of AM and PM are unnecessary)
Czech, a Slavic language closely related to Slovak and Polish, is the official language of the Czech Republic. Learning English is popular among young people, but German is still the most useful language for tourists. Don’t be surprised if you get a response in German to a question asked in English.
The country code for the Czech Republic is 42.
The city code for Prague is 02.
To find out what’s on for the month and to get the latest tips for shopping, dining, and entertainment, consult Prague’s weekly English-language newspaper, The Prague Post. It prints comprehensive entertainment listings and can be bought at most downtown newsstands as well as in major North American and European cities. The monthly Prague Guide, available at newsstands and tourist offices provides an overview of major cultural events and has listings of restaurants, hotels, and organizations offering traveler assistance.
Breakdowns (154 or 123).
Take a pair of sturdy walking shoes and be prepared to use them. Dress shoes will present considerable problems on the cobblestone streets of Prague.
Many items that you take for granted at home are occasionally unavailable or of questionable quality. Take your own toiletries and personal hygiene products with you. Few places provide sports equipment for rent; an alternative to bringing your own equipment would be to buy what you need locally and take it home with you. In general, sporting goods are relatively cheap and of good quality.
Bring an extra pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses in your carry-on luggage. Contact lens wearers should bring enough saline and disinfecting solution with them, as they are expensive and in short supply
Average Temperatures (In Fahrenheit):
January – March
April – June
July – September
October – December
When to Go:
The tourist season runs from April or May through October; spring and fall combine good weather with a more bearable level of tourism. Bear in mind that many attractions are closed November through March. Prague is beautiful year-round, but it might be wise to avoid midsummer (especially July and August) and the Christmas and Easter holidays, when the city is crowded with visitors, provided there is flexibility in the travel schedule.
Czech Republic Holidays:
1 January – New Year, Independent Czech State Renewal Day
March or April (varies) Easter Monday
1 May – Labor Day
8 May – Liberation Day (1945)
5 July – Cyril and Methodius Day – the Slavic Christianity Prophets
6 July – Master John Hus burning at the stake (1415)
28 September – Czech Statehood Day
28 October – Independent Czechoslovak State Proclamation Day (1918)
17 November – Day of Fight for Freedom and Democracy
24 December – Christmas Eve
25 December – Christmas Day
26 December – St. Stephen’s Day
Electricity: 220V, 50 Hz Electrical sockets take plugs with two round prongs or sometimes three. American appliances will need a plug adapter and will require a transformer if they do not have a dual voltage capability. Most hotels will supply guests with an ironing board and iron if requested.
The unit of the Czech money is Ceska Koruna, or Crown, abbreviated KCZ or CZK (for Koruna Ceska). The crown is divided into 100 Haler, or Heller (h). Notes come in 5000, 2000, 1000, 500, 200, 100, 50 and 20 KCZ denominations and coins in 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, and 1 KCZ and 50 h sizes. All old notes from the days of the united Czechoslovakia ceased to be a legal tender in the Czech Republic in October 1993, so beware of being offered Czechoslovak currency. The Czech crown is now freely convertible on world currency markets; exchange rates are fixed daily on the Prague Stock market.
The best place to exchange is at bank counters, where the commissions average 1%-3%, or at ATMs. The koruna is fully convertible and can be purchased outside the country and exchanged into other currencies. Ask about current regulations when you change money, however, and keep your receipts.
Between the airport and town by bus:
The Cedaz minibus shuttle links the airport with Námestí Republiky (a square just off the Old Town). It runs hourly, more often at peak periods, between 6 AM and 9:30 PM daily and makes an intermediate stop at the Dejvická metro station.
The Czech complex of regional bus lines known collectively as CSAD operates its dense network from the sprawling main bus station on Krizíkova (metro stop: Florenc, lines B or C). For information about routes and schedules call 02/2421-1060, consult the timetables posted at the station, or visit the information window, situated at the bus unloading area (open weekdays 6 AM-7:45 PM, Sat. 6-4, Sun. 8-6). The helpful private travel agency Tourbus, in the pedestrian overpass above the station, dispenses bus information daily until 8 PM. If the ticket windows are closed, you can usually buy a ticket from the driver.
Traveling by Train:
Because European countries are compact, it often takes less time to travel city-to-city by train than by plane. Prague is about 5 hours by train from Munich, Berlin, and Vienna. The European East Pass is good for first-class unlimited rail access in Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. Also available is the Czech Flexipass, good for rail travel within the Czech Republic for 5 days of travel within a 15-day period.
Passengers traveling to Prague by train typically pull into one of two central stations: Hlavní nádrazí (Main Station) or Nádrazí Holesovice (Holesovice Station). Both are on line C of the metro system and offer a number of services, including money exchange, a post office, and a luggage-storage area.
Wilsonova trída, Praha 2
Partyzánská at Vrbenského, Praha 7
Prague’s second train station, is usually the terminus for trains from Berlin and other points north. Although it’s not as centrally located as the main station, its more manageable size and location at the end of metro line C make it almost as convenient.
Prague contains two smaller rail stations.
Hybernská ulice at Havlíckova
Is primarily for travelers arriving on trains originating from other Bohemian cities or from Brno or Bratislava. Situated about 10 minutes by foot from the main train station, Masaryk is near Staré Mesto, just a stone’s throw from Námestí Republiky metro station.
Nádrazní ulice at Rozkosného
Is the terminus for commuter trains from western and southern Bohemia, though an occasional international train pulls in here. The station contains a 24-hour baggage check and is serviced by metro line B.
Prague City Transport Fares
Traveling by city transport is only possible with a valid ticket. Passengers have to obtain their tickets before boarding the vehicle or entering the Metro system. Tickets can be bought at selected Metro stations or in Dopravni podnik Information Centers, hotels, at news stands, travel bureaus, department stores, etc. Single tickets can also be bought from the slot machines located at Metro stations or near some stops of surface transport. To see Prague properly, there is no alternative to walking, especially since much of the city center is off-limits to automobiles. And the walking couldn’t be more pleasant-most of it along the beautiful bridges and cobblestone streets of the city’s historic core. Before venturing out, however, be sure you have a good map.
Prague is a particularly fun city to bike in, when the crowds are thin. Vehicular traffic is limited in the center, where small, winding streets seem especially suited to two-wheeled vehicles. Surprisingly, few people take advantage of this opportunity; cyclists are largely limited to the few foreigners who have imported their own bikes. The city’s ubiquitous cobblestones make mountain bikes the natural choice. Check with your hotel about a possible rental or try Cyklocentrum at Karlovo nám. 29, New Town and fax 02/294 312 www.cyklocentrum.cz
By Public Transportation
Prague’s public transportation network is still remarkably affordable. In central Prague, metro (subway) stations abound. You can buy tickets from yellow coin-operated machines in metro stations or at most newsstands marked Tabák Or Trafika. Hold on to your validated ticket throughout your ride–you’ll need to show it if a plainclothes ticket collector asks you.
By Bus \& Tram
The 24 electric tram (streetcar) lines run practically everywhere, and there’s always another tram with the same number traveling back. You never have to hail trams, for they make every stop. The most popular trams, nos. 22 and 23 (the “tourist trams” and the “pickpocket express”), run past top sights like the National Theater and Prague Castle. Regular bus and tram service stops at midnight, after which selected routes run reduced schedules, usually only once per hour. Schedules are posted at stops. If you miss a night connection, expect a long wait for the next. Buses tend to be used only outside the older districts of Prague and have three-digit numbers. Both the buses and tram lines (which have two digits) begin their morning runs around 4:30am.
By Metro & Light Rail
Metro trains operate daily from 5am to midnight and run every 2 to 6 minutes. On the three lettered lines (A, B, and C, color coded green, yellow, and red, respectively) the most convenient central stations are Mustek, at the foot of Václavské námestí (Wenceslas Square); Staromestska, for Old Town Square and Charles Bridge; and Malostranská, serving Malá Strana and the Castle District. The Prague Metro network consists of 3 lines designated by letters and differentiated in colour: green colour (Skalka station – Dejvicka station), yellow colour (Cerny most station – Zlicin station), red colour (Nadrazi Holesovice station – Haje station), with transfers possible at Museum station (lines A and C), Mustek station (lines A and B), Florenc station (lines B and C). Metro operates daily from 5 a.m. to 12 a.m.. The time interval between train departures is approximately 2 minutes during the rush hours and 4 to 10 minutes during off-peak hours.
AAA Taxi ( 02/3399) and Sedop ( 02/6731-4184). Many firms have English-speaking operators.
The Funicular onto Petrin Hill operates along the route Ujezd – Nebozizek – Petrin. The Funicular operates daily from 9:15 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. with traffic intervals from 10 to 15 minutes
Areas of the historical center:
Hradcany, Mala Strana (Lesser Town)
Stare Mesto (Old Town) including Josefov, Nove Mesto (New Town) and Vysehrad
The main attraction for many is simply walking along the winding cobblestone streets and enjoying the unique atmosphere. Exquisite examples from the history of European architecture–from Romanesque to Renaissance, baroque to art nouveau and cubist–are crammed next to one another on twisting narrow streets.
Alfons Mucha Museum (Muzeum A. Muchy):
Panská 7, Praha 1.
This museum opened in early 1998 near Wenceslas Square to honor the high priest of art nouveau, Alphonse (Alfons in Czech) Mucha. The new museum, around the corner from the Palace Hotel, combines examples of his graphic works, posters, and paintings as well as shows his influence in jewelry, fashion, and advertising.
Bedr[av]ich Smetana Museum (Muzeum B. Smetany):
Novotného lávka 1, Praha 1.
Metro: Starome[av]stská; tram 17 or 18.
Concerts are held here, and you can buy tickets on site or at Prague Information Service, Na Pr[av]íkope[av] 20, Praha 1 (187 in Prague or 02/264 022 outside Prague). This museum, opened in 1936 (in what was the former Old Town waterworks) jutting out into the Vltava next to Charles Bridge, pays tribute to the deepest traditions of Czech classical music and its most patriotic composer, Bedr[av]ich Smetana.
Bertramka (W. A. Mozart Museum):
Mozartova 169, Praha 5.
Tram: 2, 6, 7, 9, 14, or 16 from Ande[av]l metro station.
Chamber concerts are often held here, usually starting at 5pm. Tickets are available on site or at Prague Information Service, Na Pr[av]íkope[av] 20, Praha 1. Mozart loved Prague, and when he visited, the composer often stayed at this villa owned by the Dus[av]ek family. Now a museum, it contains displays with his written work and his harpsichord. There’s also a lock of Mozart’s hair, encased in a cube of glass. Much of the Bertramka villa was destroyed by fire in the 1870s, but Mozart’s rooms, where he finished composing the opera Don Giovanni, have miraculously remained untouched.
Bethlehem Chapel (Betlémská kaple):
Betlémské nám. 4,
Praha 1. (Praha 1).
Apr-Oct, daily 9am-6pm; Nov-Mar, daily 9am-5pm.
Metro: Line B to Národní trída.
This is the site where, in the early 15th century, the Czech Protestant theologian Jan Hus angered the Catholic hierarchy with sermons critical of the establishment. He was burned at the stake as a heretic in 1415 at Konstanz in present-day Germany and became a martyr for the Czech Protestant and later nationalist cause. A memorial to Hus dominates the center of Old Town Square. The chapel was completed in 1394 but reconstructed in the early 1950s. In the main hall you can still see the original stone floors and the pulpit from where Hus preached; it’s used as a ceremonial hall for Czech national events.
Church of Our Lady Victorious–Holy Child of Prague (Kláster Prazského):
Karmelitská 9, Praha 1.
Mon-Sat 9:30am-5:30pm, Sun 1-5:30pm.
Fee for occasional concerts.
Museum of the Infant Jesus: Admission charged.
Metro: Line A to Malostranská.
This 1613 early baroque home of the Carmelite order is famous throughout Italy and Latino countries for the wax statue of Jesus displayed on an altar of the right wing of the church. The Bambini di Praga (Baby of Prague) was presented to the Carmelites by the Habsburg patron Polyxena of Lobkowicz in 1628 and is revered as a valuable Catholic relic from Spain. Copies of the Bambini are sold frequently on the Lesser Town streets outside the church, angering some of the faithful.
Church of St. Nicholas (Kostel sv. Mikulás[av]e):
Malostranské nám. 1,Praha 1.
Metro: Line A to Malostranská.
This church is one of the best examples of high baroque architecture north of the Alps. However, K. I. Dienzenhofer’s 1711 design didn’t have the massive dome that now dominates the Lesser Town skyline below Prague Castle. Dienzenhofer’s son, Krys[av]tof, added the 260-foot-high dome during additional work completed in 1752. The gilded interior is stunning. Gold-capped marble-veneered columns frame altars packed with statuary and frescoes added through the centuries. A giant statue of the church’s namesake looks down from the high altar, as the midday sun strains through the domes, lighting it and the frescoes.
Church of St. Nicholas (Kostel sv. Mikuláse):
Old Town Square at Parízská, Praha 1.
Free admission, except for occasional concerts.
Metro: Line A to Staromestská.
At the site of a former Gothic church begun by German merchants, this St. Nicholas church was designed in 1735 by the principal architect of Czech baroque, K. I. Dienzenhofer. He’s the same Dienzenhofer who designed Prague’s other St. Nicholas Church, in Lesser Town (see above). This church isn’t as ornate as the other but has a more tumultuous history. The Catholic monastery was closed in 1787, and the church was handed over for use as a concert hall in 1865. The city’s Russian Orthodox community began using it in 1871, but in 1920 management was handed to the Protestant Hussites. One notable piece inside is the 19th-century crystal chandelier with glass brought from the town of Harrachov. Concerts are still held here.
Dvor[av]ák Museum (Muzeum A. Dvor[av]áka):
Ke Karlovu 20, Praha 2.
Metro: Line C to I. P. Pavlova.
Built in 1712, the two-story rococo building, tucked away on a Nové Me[av]sto side street, was Dvor[av]ák’s home for 24 years until his death in 1901. In the 18th century when the building was erected, this part of Prague was frontier land. Czechs willing to open businesses so far from the center were called “Americans” for their pioneer spirit. This building came to be known as America. Opened in 1932, the museum shows an extensive collection, including the composer’s piano, spectacles, Cambridge cap and gown, photographs, and sculptures. Several rooms are furnished as they were around 1900.
Kinsk‡ Palace (Palác Kinsk‡ch):
Staromestské námestí, Praha 1.
Metro: Line A to Staromestská.
The rococo Kinsk‡ Palace houses graphic works from the National Gallery collection, including pieces by Georges Braque, André Derain, and other modern masters. Pablo Picasso’s 1907 Self-Portrait is here and has virtually been adopted as the National Gallery’s logo. Good-quality international exhibits have included Max Ernst and Rembrandt retrospectives, as well as shows on functional arts and crafts.
Loreto Palace (Loreta):
Loretánské nám. 7, Praha 1.
Tues-Sun 9am-12:15pm and 1-4:30pm.
Tram: 22 from Malostranská.
Loreto Palace was named after the town of Loreto, Italy, where the dwelling of the Virgin Mary was said to have been brought by angels from Palestine in the 13th century. After the Roman Catholics defeated the Protestant Bohemians in 1620, the Loreto cult was chosen as the device for a re-Catholicization of Bohemia. The Loreto legend holds that a cottage in which the Virgin Mary lived had been miraculously transferred from Nazareth to Loreto, an Italian city near Ancona. The Loreto Palace is thought to be an imitation of this cottage, and more than 50 copies have been constructed throughout the Czech lands. The Loreto’s facade is decorated with 18th-century statues of the four writers of the Gospel–Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John–along with a lone female, St. Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary.
Mu[ao]stek Metro Station:
The street follows the line of the old fortifications all the way down to the Gothic Powder Tower at náme[av]stí Republiky.
Václavské náme[av]stí, Praha 1.
Metro: Line A or B.
It’s not the metro station itself, which is hardly 20 years old, that warrants an entry here. Descending Mu[ao]stek’s lower escalators, the illuminated stone remains of what was once a bridge that connected the fortifications of Prague’s Old and New Towns can be seen.
Museum of the City of Prague (Muzeum hlavního me[av]sta Prahy):
The museum is 1 block north of the Florenc metro station.
Na por[av]íc[av]í 52, Praha 8.
Tues-Sun 9am-6pm, Thurs 9am-8pm.
This delightfully upbeat museum encompasses Prague’s illustrious past.
Permanent exhibition: Ancient Prague – the history of the city and its inhabitants from prehistoric times to 1620. Prague between the Middle and New Ages. Langweil´s model of Prague created during 1826 – 1837 – a unique three dimensional representation of the city made of paper and wood.
Alfons Mucha Museum (Muzeum A. Muchy):
Panská 7, Praha 1. Phone 02/628 4162 E-mail email@example.com.
This museum opened in early 1998 near Wenceslas Square to honor the art nouveau master, Alphonse (Alfons in Czech) Mucha. Though the Moravian born turn of the 20th century master spent most of his creative years in Paris drawing luminaries like actress Sarah Bernhardt, Mucha’s influence can still be seen throughout his home country. The new museum, around the corner from the Palace Hotel, combines examples of his graphic works, posters, and paintings and highlights his influence in jewelry, fashion, and advertising.
Petr[av]ín Tower (Rozhledna):
Atop Petr[av]ín Hill, Praha 1.
Apr-Oct, daily 9:30am-8pm; Nov-Mar, Sat-Sun only 9:30am-5pm.
Tram: 12 or 22 to Újezd, then ride the funicular to the top.
A one-fifth scale copy of Paris’s Eiffel Tower, Prague’s Petr[av]ín Tower was constructed out of recycled railway track for the 1891 Prague Exhibition. It functioned as the city’s primary telecommunications tower until the Emir Hoffman tower opened. Today the Eiffel replica exists solely as a tourist attraction. Those who climb the 195 feet to the top are treated to striking views, particularly at night.
Powder Tower (Pras[av]ná brána, literally Powder Gate):
Náme[av]stí Republiky, Praha 1.
Metro: Line B to Náme[av]stí Republiky
Once part of Staré Me[av]sto’s system of fortifications, the Old Town Powder Tower (as opposed to the Powder Tower in Prague Castle) was built in 1475 as one of the walled city’s major gateways. The 140-foot-tall tower marks the beginning of the Royal Route, the traditional 3/4-mile-long route along which medieval Bohemian monarchs paraded on their way to being crowned in Prague Castle’s St. Vitus Cathedral. It also was the east gate to the Old Town on the road to Kutná Hora. The tower was acutely damaged during the Prussian invasion of Prague in 1737. The present-day name derived from the 18th century, when the development of Nové Me[av]sto rendered this protective tower obsolete; it was then used as a gunpowder storehouse.
Old Town Hall (Starome[av]stská radnice) and Astronomical Clock (orloj):
Starome[av]stské náme[av]stí, Praha 1.
May-Oct, Mon 11am-6pm, Tues-Sun 9am-6pm; Nov-Apr, Mon 11am-5pm, Tues-Sun 9am-5pm.
Admission charged to Town Hall tower.
Metro: Line A to Starome[av]stská.
Crowds congregate in front of Old Town Hall’s Astronomical Clock (orloj) to watch the glockenspiel spectacle that occurs hourly from 8am to 8pm. Built in 1410, the clock has long been an important symbol of Prague. According to legend, after the timepiece was remodeled at the end of the 15th century, clock artist Master Hanus[av] was blinded by the Municipal Council so that he couldn’t repeat his fine work elsewhere. In retribution, Hanus[av] threw himself into the clock mechanism and promptly died.
S[av]ternberk Palace Art Museum (of the National Gallery) (S[av]ternbersk‡ palác):
Hradc[av]anské nám. 15, Praha 1.
Metro: Line A to Malostranská or Hradc[av]anská.
The jewel in the National Gallery crown (also known as the European Art Museum), the gallery at S[av]ternberk Palace, adjacent to the main gate of Prague Castle, displays a wide menu of European art throughout the ages. It features six centuries of everything from oils to sculptures. The permanent collection is divided chronologically into pre-19th-century art, 19th- and 20th-century art, and 20th-century French painting and sculpture. Also included is a good selection of cubist paintings by Braque and Picasso, among others. Temporary exhibits, such as Italian Renaissance bronzes, are always on show. The Veletrz[av]ní Palace now houses most of the National Gallery’s 20th-century art collection. The rest of the national collection is divided between Kinsk‡ Palace on Old Town Square and St. Agnes Convent near the river.
St. Agnes Convent (Klás[av]ter sv. Anez[av]ky C[av]eské):
The convent is at the end of Anez[av]ka, off Has[av]talské náme[av]stí.
U milosrdn‡ch 17, Praha 1.
Metro: Line A to Starome[av]stská.
A complex of early Gothic buildings and churches dating from the 13th century, the convent, tucked in a corner of Staré Me[av]sto, was once home to the Order of the Poor Clares. It was established in 1234 by St. Agnes of Bohemia, sister of Wenceslas I. The Blessed Agnes became St. Agnes when Pope John Paul II paid his first visit to Prague in 1990 for her canonization. The convent is now home to the National Gallery’s collection of 19th- and 20th-century Czech art. In addition to rooms of contemplative oils, the museum contains many bronze studies that preceded the casting of some of the city’s greatest public monuments, including the equestrian statue of St. Wenceslas atop the National Theater. Downstairs, a Children’s Workshop offers hands-on art activities, most of which incorporate religious themes. The grounds surrounding the convent are inviting.
St. George’s Convent at Prague Castle (Kláster sv. Jirího na Prazském hrade):
Jirské nám. 33.
Metro: Line A to Malostranská or Hradcanská
Dedicated to displaying old Czech art, the castle convent is especially packed with Gothic and baroque Bohemian iconography as well as portraits of patron saints. The most famous among the unique collection of Czech Gothic panel paintings are those by the Master of the Hohenfurth Altarpiece and the Master Theodoricus. The collections are arranged into special exhibits usually revolving around a specific place, person, or time in history.
Strahov Monastery and Library (Strahovsk‡ kláster):
Strahovské nádvorí, Praha 1.
Tues-Sun 9am-noon and 1-5pm.
Admission 40Kc adults, 20Kc students.
Tram: 22 from Malostranská metro station.
The second oldest monastery in Prague, Strahov was founded high above Malá Strana in 1143 by Vladislav II. It’s still home to Premonstratensian monks, a scholarly order closely related to the Jesuits, and their dormitories and refectory are off-limits. What draws visitors are the monastery’s ornate libraries, holding more than 125,000 volumes. Over the centuries, the monks have assembled one of the world’s best collections of philosophical and theological texts, including illuminated manuscripts and first editions.
T‡n Church or the Church of Our Lady Before T‡n (Kostel paní Marie pred T‡nem):
Staromestské námestí, Praha 1, entrance from Stupartská.
Metro: Line A to Staromestská.
Huge double square towers with multiple black steeples make this church the most distinctive standout of Old Town Square. The “T‡n” was the fence marking the border of the central marketplace in the 13th century. The church’s present configuration was completed mostly in the 1380s, and it became the main church of the Protestant Hussite movement in the 15th century (though the small Bethlehem Chapel in Old Town where Hus preached is the cradle of the Czech Protestant reformation.
Veletrzní Palace (National Gallery):
Veletrzní at Dukelsk‡ch hrdinu 47, Praha 7.
Tues-Sun 10am-6pm (Thurs to 9pm)
Metro: Line C to Vltavská or tram 17.
This 1925 constructionist palace, built for trade fairs, was remodeled and reopened in December 1995 to hold the bulk of the National Gallery’s collection of 20th-century works by Czech and other European artists. .
Doors open 7.30am. Tram #5, #9 or #26.
Kubelíkova 27, Zízkov.
Decent live arts/gig venue in the backstreets of seedy Zízkov
Agharta, Jazz Centrum,
Krakovská 5, Nové Mesto.
Open until 1am.
jazz club with a good mix of foreigners and locals.
Belehradská 120, Vinohrady.
Open until 6am. Metro I.P. Pavlova.
Known as the best dance club in Prague, with a great veggie café attached
Národní 20, Nové Mesto
Open Mon-Fri until 2am, though the music stops at midnight.
Prague’s oldest-established jazz club, serving up anything from traditional to modern
James Joyce Pub
is authentically Irish (it has Irish owners), with Guinness on tap and excellent fish-and-chips.
Malostranské nám. 7
is a haven for younger expats, serving bottled beer, mixed drinks, and good Mexican food.
The funicular departs from a small house in the park just above the middle of újezd in Malá Strana
tram 12, 22, or 23 will take you to újezd.
open April to August, daily from 10am to 6pm.
Admission charged (nominal).
Children will enjoy the funicular ride to the top of Petrín Hill, capped by the Petrín Tower, a miniature replica of the Eiffel Tower. Once there, look for the Labyrinth (Bludiste), a mirror maze that you walk through. Like the tower replica, the Labyrinth was built for the 1891 Prague Exhibition, an expo that highlighted the beauty and accomplishments of Bohemia and Moravia.Inside the Labyrinth is a gigantic painting/installation depicting the battle between Praguers and Swedes on the Charles Bridge in 1648, a commemoration of the fighting that ended the Thirty Years’ War. In 1892, the building’s other historic exhibits were replaced with mirrors, turning the Labyrinth into the fun house we know today.
Also in the park is the Stefánik Observatory, built in 1930 expressly for public stargazing through a 90-year-old telescope. Open in fall and winter, Tuesday to Friday from 7am to 9pm, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to noon, 2 to 6pm, and 7 to 9pm. In spring and summer spend Tuesday to Friday 6 to 9pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am till noon and 2 to 9pm. Admission charged (nominal)
Havel’s Market (Havelsk‡ trh):
The market is open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.
On Havelská ulice, a short street running perpendicular to the main route connecting Staromestské námestí with Václavské námestí, is a great open-air place to shop for picnic supplies. Here you’ll find seasonal home-grown fruits and vegetables at inexpensive prices.
in Stromovka Park
To reach the planetarium, take tram 5, 12, or 17 to V‡staviste and walk through the park to your left about 350 yards. charged.
Monday to Thursday from 8am to noon and 1pm until the end of the last program, Saturday and Sunday from 9:30am to noon and 1pm until the end of the evening program. There are shows daily under the dark dome, including one where highlighted constellations are set to music and another that displays that night’s sky. The shows are in Czech, but the sky is still the same.
Krizík’s Fountain (Krizíkova fontána):
In the V‡staviste fairgrounds adjacent to Stromovka park
The water/music program runs April to October from 7 to 11pm.
Admission charged for various performances at 7, 8, and 9pm, sometimes 10pm.
Take tram 5, 12, or 17 to V‡staviste.
A massive system of water spigots spout tall and delicate streams of color-lit water in a spectacular light show set to recorded classical and popular music. Small children are especially fascinated. There’s also a small amusement park on the fairgrounds
The Czech government publishes an annual “Calendar of Tourist Events” in English, available from Cedok or the Prague Information Service.
Prague City of Music Festival; Czech Alpine Skiing Championships (Tourist Information Center, Box 24, 543 51 Spindlerùv Ml‡n, 0438/93330).
Prague Spring Music Festival (Hellichova 18, 118 00 Prague 1, 02/533473); Prague Marathon; Prague Writers’ Festival (Viola Theater, Národní 7, Prague 1, 02/2422-0844) offers dramatic readings by major writers from around the world.
Classical concerts take place throughout the year in concert halls and churches, the biggest event being the Prague Spring (Prazské jaro) international music festival, which traditionally begins on May 12, the day of Smetana’s death, with a performance of Má vlast, and finishes on June 2 with a rendition of Beethoven’s Ninth. As well as the main venues, watch for concerts in the churches and palaces, especially in summer.
Prague International Film Festival.
Prague Summer Culture Festival.
Prague Autumn International Music Festival (Sekaninova 26, 120 00 Prague 2, 02/692-7470).
Agharta International Jazz Festival; Festival of 20th Century Music (Festa Arts Agency, Dlouhá 10, 110 00 Prague 1, 02/232-1086).
Mozart in Prague 02/643 7560 Studio Forum Praha. A month long celebration.
Anniversary of the Velvet Revolution which took place on November 17, 1989.
Christmas Market in the Old Town Square. Mid-November- December.
Christmas in Prague is celebrated with many events. Santa, dressed in a white bishop’s robes starts it off on 12/5 with treats for the children who are well behaved, and coal and potatoes to the rowdy ones.
Enjoying New Year’s Eve in Cesk‡ Krumlov: At midnight in Bohemia’s Cesk‡ Krumlov, the Na plásti bridge at the castle overlooking the town turns into a mini-United Nations, as revelers from all over gather to watch and light fireworks, see who can uncork the champagne the fastest, and just plain celebrate
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