What to see in Prague?
Ghosts, gay pride parade and sex museum – what to see in Prague?
Holidays in the Czech Republic should happen to everyone, and not just once. Once I have been here in October (with a friend) and in June (for training). And each time, the Czech Republic was beautiful in its own way.
Before the first trip to Prague, my friend and I were terribly worried, so we searched the entire Internet. So, we knew in advance at which currency exchange offices it was better to change money so that they did not deduct interest, what to order in restaurants and where real ghosts are found.
This was our first Schengen, and we got it through the agency: we just handed in our passports, and three days later, they were returned to us with the coveted Czech visa.
At the agency, we also asked what to see in Czech Republic and ordered three excursions – as it turned out, it was much cheaper than if we ordered them in Prague.
How to get to Prague?
There were no direct flights from Baku, so we flew through Moscow. I won't say that I liked Czech Airlines, which brought us from the Russian capital to the Czech Republic, but I did not have any special complaints about them. Simple, convenient, inexpensive.
Prague Airport, named after the first president of the modern Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, is hardly large and spacious. But at the same time, in 2019, its passenger traffic amounted to almost 18 million people. That is, you understand that you need to rush to the passport control at full speed. However, this most often does not save, and you have to stand in line for a long time anyway.
You can get from Prague Airport to the city centre by taxi, Airport Express buses or city buses.
For those who are not used to losing a minute and want to start their vacation in Prague directly from the airport, there is Beerbus - a beer bus with huge windows and unlimited beer. However, I advise you to find like-minded people, because this pleasure is not cheap: $ 335 for a group of up to 10 people or $ 240 for up to 5 people.
The road from the airport passes through a typical "Soviet city": neighbourhoods, panel buildings… At the same time, everything is extremely clean, neat, and there is a lot of greenery.
But the real Prague is a mystical, magical, mysterious, most beautiful city in Europe.
It is divided into five districts: Old Town (Old Prague), New Town (New Prague), Hradcany, Lesser Town, and Visegrad. Don't let the name of New Town deceive you – it was founded as early as 1348 and was considered new compared to others, where settlements have been established since the tenth century. Previously, these were separate cities that even fought among themselves. And only since the XVIII century, they have united in the fairy-tale city of Prague.
Prague stands on five hills separated by the Vltava River. The city stretches along the river for 30 kilometres. Here it is spanned by 18 stone and steel bridges, the most famous of which, of course, is the beautiful Charles Bridge, which became exclusively pedestrian half a century ago.
We rented a room in the three-star Central Hotel Prague right behind the Old Town Square-the heart of the historic centre. It cost quite cheap – for two people about 45 euros per night (including breakfast), but its three stars were very "bright". By the way, you can find decent three-star Prague hotels in the heart of Prague and for 30 euros for two.
The City of a Hundred Spires
The heart of Prague is the Old Town Square, on which stands the amazing medieval town hall with an astronomical clock - Prague Orloj. This is not just a watch but the oldest unique mechanism in the world, which still continues to work and accurately show astronomical data. But the oldest part of this mechanism was created in 1410.
The Prague Eagle shows not only Old Czech, Babylonian, Central European and sidereal times, sunrise and sunset times, Sun and Moon positions but also moon phases. The most important thing is that every hour there is a real theatrical performance, which forces all tourists to gather under the town hall in advance and wait for the clock to start striking.
On the sides of the astronomical dial are four sculptures that move every hour. The skeleton representing Death turns over the hourglass, nods its head, and pulls the bell. The Vanity figure turns its head and looks in the mirror. The figure of Avarice shakes the bag of money, and the Turk shakes his head as if denying the possibility of a new Turkish attack.
At the top, on the sides of the central stone sculpture of the angel, there are two windows, in which the figures of the 12 apostles are shown in turn every hour. Above the stone sculpture of the angel is the figure of the golden rooster, which screams at the end of the procession of the apostles.
In addition, there are many additional figures on the clock: basilisks and lions, dragons and toads, a philosopher, an astronomer, and even the devil himself. Generally, it's necessary to come to the Old Town Square early, choose a convenient place in front of the clock and wait for the minute hand to reach 12. From Tuesday to Sunday, the clock strikes from 9 am to 11 pm, and on Monday, it starts moving from 11 am.
We watched the movement of the figures and went up to the town hall to see the city from above. By the way, there are also two-hour guided tours of the town hall itself. By the way, there are also two-hour guided tours of the town hall itself.
Prague is not without reason called the city of a hundred spires. From the town hall, the spires of the Gothic churches and the domes of the medieval towers are even more noticeable. Some of them are so black with age that they seem to be covered with ash. Nevertheless, the city hall remains adamant: during the restoration of the tower is not cleaned so as not to spoil. The restorations here are generally very sensitive: we observed how during the reconstruction of the Charles Bridge, each tile was numbered, removed, and then put in the same place.
Directly opposite the town hall stands the Tyn Temple – two eighty-meter medieval towers. Their construction began in the XIV century and lasted for more than 160 years. Inside lies the ashes of Czech rulers and richly decorated altars.
Here, on the Old Town Square, stands the main church of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church – St. Nicholas.
When we came down from the town hall, we sat down directly opposite, in an open-air cafe. In winter, torches are lit around its perimeter to keep visitors warm, and in summer, devices spray fine water dust to keep cool. And what magnificent hot chocolate is here! You should definitely try it!
Fair and gay pride parade
On that day, the whole Old Town Square was filled with stalls and tables – the way fairs are held in Prague. And there were huge vats of mulled wine. We bought delicious snacks in the stalls, took a glass of hot wine and realized that this is the best thing you can think of in Prague when for some reason, it snows in October, and you went for a walk in a light jacket.
Another surprise was waiting for us on the way to the hotel: we suddenly got to the gay pride parade.
A small group of very festively dressed men was moving down the street to meet us. Someone in an evening dress, someone in shorts and fishnet tights. Apparently, the cold was not a hindrance to their parade run. They waved cheerfully to passers-by and shouted greetings. I must say, my eastern psyche did not shake at all from what I saw – the participants of the gay parade charged with positive emotions.
In general, we had enough intensity over the edge, and we decided to finish the evening in the nearest pub with the famous Czech beer.
Beer in the Czech Republic is the national drink. It has been brewed here since the XVI century and even sold the brewing rights before. It costs a penny, both in pubs and in stores. Sometimes even cheaper than regular bottled water. By the way, prices in Czech Republic are generally quite low.
There are not many traditional beer snacks in the Czech Republic, but the food here is very tasty and satisfying. With beer, they order, mainly, the famous homemade sausages or boar knee-pork knuckle. It is very tasty to cook in Prague and goose liver in wine.
To our surprise, at 11 pm, a waiter came up to us and announced that the pub was closing. Spoilt by the usual "to the last customer" schedule in tourist cities, we decided that this is probably the only pub in Prague that closes at 11. But no, when we went outside, we found that all the pubs were already closed.
As it turned out later, this rule applies on weekdays. But on weekends, all places are open at night, and you can walk from Friday evening to midnight on Sunday.
By the way, on Friday, drunken songs were heard under the windows of our hotel from about 6 pm. And we decided to go to a disco on this occasion.
And it took us to the Karlovy Vary dance club – the largest dance club in Central Europe. It is located in a five-story building of the XV century. Each floor has its own dance floor, its own DJ and its own music. On the first, they play the most fashionable music at this time, on the second, they blow up to dance rhythms, on the third – they are nostalgic to retro, on the fourth-they hang out to R'n'B and hip-hop, and on the fifth, chillout reigns.
To say that we had a good time is a lie. There were few people at the disco, and the music was not so good… After wandering through the half-empty floors and straying off a couple of overly active African-Americans, we returned to the hotel.
The Soviet Ghost Town
In fact, we really wanted to see the ghost. And, as you know, the most ghosts in the world are in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. Each of them has its own terrible story.
Not far from our hotel, on Liliova Street, as the legends promised, exactly at midnight, a Knight Templar rides on a white horse, holding his own head under his arm. Not just riding, but looking for a nobleman who will stop his wanderings, stopping his horse and plunging his own sword into the heart of the rider. Of course, we decided to save the knight, and by midnight we went to the same place. But either the place was not the right one, or the knight took the day off, but we only froze in anticipation.
On the way back, we wandered through the streets in the hope of meeting other famous ghosts: the miller's daughter, a nun, or at least a fat merchant. Unfortunately, or fortunately, our search was unsuccessful.
But the real mystery began when we returned to the hotel. First, we found that both of our keys for the room were demagnetized – we had to run to the administrator. Then the safe stopped opening, locking up most of our money for rest – the master was called. The towel in the bathroom was suddenly on the floor, right in the middle of a fairly large room, and we began to see bloody streaks on the walls.
So, we decided not to tease the ghosts anymore and tried to fall asleep faster.
Nevertheless, on my second trip to Prague, I decided to rub my nerves once again and went to the Ghost Museum. It is located on Mostetskaya Street, near the Charles Bridge Prague. Entrance for adults’ costs 6-7 euros, and for children-3 euros.
All the fun in the Ghost Museum is, of course, in the basement. Here you can take pictures with ghosts and even play with them. Well, at the top, I advise you to read a book that contains medieval secrets and legends of Prague, based on which the museum was created.
The most desperate mystics on arrival in Prague can make their way to the Staronova Synagogue, which, according to legend, contains the remains of a golem.
According to legend, the clay giant was created on the bank of the Vltava River from the four elements by Rabbi Yehuda Lev to protect the Czech Jews. Well, he also carried out various tasks for small things. But over time, the golem's help was needed less and less, and it became more and more difficult to command the giant. Then the rabbi broke it and hid the shards in the attic of the Old Synagogue. It is said that the rabbi's son was able to revive the golem again, and now it wanders at night in the Jewish quarter.
The synagogue there, by the way, is the oldest in Europe, still operating today.
At the golden conic
The next day we went on a tour of Old Prague. We chose to walk to explore the streets of Prague. Very often, tourists choose a tour of the Vltava River to enjoy a river walk and to see the main sights of the city.
The guide paid special attention to the coats of arms that decorated the Prague buildings. It turns out that many of the addresses are known not by the streets but by the coats of arms. You get into a taxi, for example, and say that you need to go to the house of U bile Botky (or simply "At the white shoe"), the building "At the golden conic" or "Beautiful Rose". They were named a long time ago according to the belonging of the former owners to a particular craft, possession or quality. But their descendants still proudly keep the family coats of arms and legends about their ancestors.
After walking through the ancient Prague streets, we went from Stara Prague to Mala Strana. Of course, on foot and, of course, on the Charles Bridge Prague.
The Charles Bridge, which was completed in 1402, connects Stara Prague with Mala Strana. It is decorated with 30 statues, mostly of Catholic saints. The guide can tell you about each statue separately. Especially about those that need to be rubbed and make a wish-they say it will definitely come true. There are a lot of them here, so prepare more wishes. And there are also many street artists who sell their incredible paintings.
Mala Strana is a part of Prague that you want to live in. There are beautiful parks with huge trees, bike paths and lawns where you can have a picnic.
Although I must admit, there are plenty of parks and gardens in Prague everywhere. On my second trip to Prague, I lived in one of these parks – the Havlichkov Gardens. Here is the institute where I was lucky enough to pass the training, and there is a hostel for students. You run out of the house in the morning and around the beautiful trees, fountains and even a cave. People run, ride bicycles, have breakfast right on the lawn. It is happiness here.
If you want to visit the largest presidential residence in the world by area, and at the same time the largest castle in the world, go to Prague Castle – it just borders on a Small Country. Now Prague Castle is the residence of the President of the Czech Republic and previously was the residence of the Czech kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire.
Here is another attraction of Prague – Zlata street. At first glance, it looks like a toy. On it are dwarf two-story houses, which once lived jewellers. Urban legends claim that they were alchemists and could turn anything into gold. Now the houses are converted into souvenir shops and galleries. Until 18:00, the entrance to Zlata Street is paid. In the evening, the shops are closed, and you can walk here for free.
The Czechs, apparently, have a passion for everything small because not far from here is located the street Vinarna Chertovka with a width of only 70 centimetres. What kind of street is this? According to the law, if there are windows on it, it means that it is a street. On the street, there is a restaurant, the name of which it became Vinarna Chertovka. It has excellent wine and a very hospitable host. At first, the guests, having drunk his good wine, created traffic jams on the street. And so the mayor's office ordered the owner of the restaurant to put a traffic light on this narrowest street in the world... … Now, if you want to go through it, first click on the button on your side. At this time, a red light comes on from the other side.
There is also a channel called the Devil - they say it is named after a very beautiful girl who made all men fall in love with her, not otherwise than with the help of witchcraft.
10 Little Negroes, an overturned horse, and Victims of Communism
In Prague, there are very interesting monuments everywhere.
Any Prague guide will take you to Wenceslas Square to show you the huge monument to Prince Wenceslas. Our guide also took us to the Lucerne Palace – here in the passage is a parody copy of this monument by the infamous Czech sculptor David Cerny. In his interpretation, Prince Wenceslaus sits on the belly of a horse, and it hangs upside down from the ceiling with its tongue hanging out. It is said that the horse will hang like this until "Constitutional Monarchy prevails in the lands of the Crown of the Czech Republic."
No less notable are the sculptures of giant babies climbing the Prague TV Tower, also by David Cerny. They are also called the ten Negroes. A couple of such babies are installed in the parks of the Small Country.
If you pass by the TV tower, take a closer look. By the way, you can come in. It has a restaurant (at an altitude of 66 m) and a viewing platform at an altitude of 93 m, which offers a unique view.
Well, one of the most symbolic monuments of modern history is the Memorial to the Victims of Communism at the foot of Petrshin Hill. Seven bronze figures "descend" down the stairs, collapsing, losing limbs and human appearance.
The Dancing House in Prague also became a kind of monument. This office building was built on the site of the bombing of the city by American aircraft. It consists of two cylindrical towers, one of which is bent and resembles a female figure with a thin waist in a fluttering skirt. The house is also called "Ginger and Fred" in honour of the American dance couple-Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. By the way, the building is a four-star hotel Dancing House Hotel, and on the roof-a restaurant with a view of Prague "Ginger & Fred".
From Sex to the Chamber Pot Museum
Also, there are a lot of museums at every turn in the centre of Prague. It is estimated that there are 74 museums and 160 art galleries in the capital of the Czech Republic. In my opinion, much more, but I will not argue.
I've already told you about the Ghost Museum. We also visited the Museum of Sex and the Museum of Chocolate.
The first one contains about 200 exhibits for the satisfaction of carnal desires from the Middle Ages to our time. The guide tells visitors how in different centuries, the noble ladies and gentlemen in Spain, Germany and France had fun. Whips, handcuffs, masks, corsets, underwear, Sado-Maso items… I must say, Czech fantasies were unlimited. At the entrance to the museum, there is a throne that will determine how sexy you are.
Well, in the Museum of Chocolate, you can not only look but also try and even buy delicious souvenirs.
Prague has a Toy Museum with one of the largest collections in the world and a Lego Museum with a huge game room. And the Museum of Alchemists and Magicians, the Beer Museum and the Museum of Torture, the Kafka Museum, the KGB Museum and the Museum of Torture Instruments…
We passed the Chamber Pot Museum with great regret because it was closed…
Prague is also home to one of the largest zoos in Europe. It has the only pavilion in Central and Western Europe where giant Galapagos turtles live, as well as the world's largest elephant turtles from Seychelles. Only the Prague Zoo managed to create suitable living conditions for them. No matter how negative I feel about zoos, I must pay tribute to Prague-here they breed rare species of animals, 144 of which are listed in the "Red Book", and 14 are endangered. More than 1,000 cubs are born in the zoo every year.
The zoo is located in the Troika Basin. There is a free express train from the metro station "Nadrazhi Goleshovice": you will see the inscription ZOO-get on it and come. Ticket price – 7-10 euros, discounts for families.
Next to the zoo is the Prague Botanical Garden and Trois Castle, which has a Wine Museum.
Do not be late and do not violate!
On the third day of our stay in the Czech Republic, we went on an excursion outside the city to one of the ancient Prague castles.
The departure was scheduled for an early time, and we, of course, slightly overslept. The collection point was not far from our hotel but across the Vltava River, which means over the Charles Bridge. It was decided to run on foot. The bridge is only a short distance away, and a taxi would have taken you much further.
There was a traffic light in front of the bridge, directing traffic along a narrow Prague street. Looking around and seeing no cars, I ran across the street and ran right into the policeman, who was looking at me with mute indignation.
After a moment, he asked, "What's the matter?":
"Didn't you notice the traffic light?"
"I noticed!" But there were no cars there!
Apparently, my naive attempt to justify myself made the policeman's speechlessness get lost again. So, I managed to slip by, and we still managed to get on the tour in time.
As it turned out, we did not run in vain: our bus left at exactly 00 at the appointed time. At this time, about 100 paces from it, a couple appeared who was with us on tour yesterday and were supposed to go on the same bus for the tour today. I will note a pre-paid tour.
All the passengers (by the way, all from the former Soviet Union) shouted to the driver that they should stop and wait for the couple running to the bus. But unfortunately. The driver replied that he could not break the rules and was obliged to continue driving.
These episodes taught me that you couldn't be late in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, but you can't break the traffic rules, even if you're late.
But the visit to the castle itself did not particularly impress me. Rather, I was struck by the surrounding nature – the forests, the river, the amazing air. And so-well, the castle, well, the armoury rooms.
By the way, the descendants of its medieval owner still lived in this castle – access to their rooms was closed, of course. They gave a permit -ahead for tours of the castle to earn money to keep it in decent shape. It turned out that this is a common practice in Prague.
Unfortunately, we did not have time to take advantage of the guide's offer and go on one-day and two-day bus tours of Munich, Vienna, Dresden, Budapest. These cities are located in other countries but very close to Prague. Do not miss your chance to combine your vacation in Prague with travel to other countries.
Czech fantasies: trdelnik
Another trdelnik! This was my favourite treat throughout my stay in Prague for the second time. Trdelnik with berries, trdelnik with chocolate, trdelnik with ice cream…
In Prague, trdelniki is incredibly delicious.
And cannabis! You should have seen my eyes when I found various products with cannabis on free sale in the city's stores – it is clear that the drug itself is contained therein microscopic doses and has no effect on the state of health. But chewing gum, chocolate, and even beer with cannabis will be a cool souvenir.
By the way, as an alcoholic souvenir, you can also bring home the Czech herbal liqueur "Berherovka" – a very original taste.
And on the eve of our departure from Prague, we... ran out of money. Well, they were almost over. We managed to buy gifts, shop around (by the way, I strongly advise girls to pay attention to Czech brands – prices in Czech Republic are very reasonable) and try to buy everything you can.
As a result, for a farewell lunch in Prague, we went to a Chinese restaurant, where we were served quite decent food for just 3 euros. For dinner, we bought large slices of pizza and, to everyone's delight, while walking around Lesser Town, we came across an apple and pear orchard with very tasty fruits.
So, as a joke that in this garden we can spend on vacation in Prague without money for another week or two, we said goodbye to this wonderful city. Both of my trips to Prague were just wonderful. I hope to return here more than once and maybe live a couple of years.