According to Guinness Book of records this the largest of the ancient
castles. The most visible structure of the citadel is St. Vitus
cathedral with its lookout tower that offers great view of the city. The
stairwell is hard to climb however. Prague Castle also includes several
museums, Royal Garden, palaces and other attractions. Presidential Guard
is also changed regularly on the hourly bases.
Cathedral is the seat of the archbishop of Prague.
Full name is Cathedral of St. Vitus, St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert.
Initially a Romanesque rotunda on the present spot, build in 925 by
Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia he also brought a holy relic from Emperor
Henry I- arm of St. Vitus. It is possible, although not fully proved,
that the name of Saint Vitus sounded a lot like Slavic Sun- God
Svantevit thus it was chosen. In 1060 Spythinev II found a new Romanesque
basilica once Prague became the seat of bishop. Present day gothic
cathedral was found on November 12, 1344 once Prague’s status was
raised to an archbishopric. It was intended for coronation of Bohemian
king and Roman emperor Charles VI. In yearly 15th century the
Great Tower was build, butHussite
war soon brought an end to construction. Cathedral’s sculptures and
dozens of pictures were destroyed. The fire in 1541 damaged building
further. However it was restored. Today’s look the church acquired
thanks to renovation in the middle 19th century and Rose
Window that it got in 1929. Thus it took almost six centuries to finish
this magnificent cathedral. The interior of the church has number of
tombs of many Bohemian kings.
Golden Lane one of the most popular and most visited parts of
the Prague Castle. It is a small and narrow street with mostly one story
houses built into the wall of the fortress from the Middle ages. It was hope
to soldiers, goldsmiths and secretive alchemists who according to a local
legend managed to create gold for their mad Emperor Rudolf II. In the 18th-
19th centuries the prestige of the street fell and it was turned into a slum
for the poor. Among most famous residents of the Golden Lane is a famous
writer Franz Kafka who lived in a house with a number 22 over it. Today
Golden Lane houses many souvenir shops and a museum of torture. Watch the
steps if you decide to go into a basement of some the the buildings.
Although the exterior might look new, much of the interior is actually
shaped by medieval walls. So steps might be slippery.
Loreto is located in the eastern part of the
Loreto Square (Loretanske namesti) with the church of Nativity
dated to 1735- 37 and constructed by Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer.
Most famous frescoes of Loreto include "Sacrifice of Jesus
Vavrzhitsa in the presbytery
of the church and "Birth of Christ" by
Jan Jiří Gaynesha over the altar. The tower of
the complex has musical bells that periodically play melodies.
They were made in Amsterdam in 1683- 91. Inside the complex you
can also find the hut of Holy Virgin Mary, a copy of Italian
Loreto built in 1626- 27 by the architect Giovanni Battista Orsi.
The hut is surrounded by a portico with seven chapels. Inside
the hut is the silver altar, the walls are covered by frescoes
from the 17th century.
Roman Catholic Strahov Monastery with the Church of the Assumption of the
Virgin Mary is an integral part of Prague panorama. This beautiful Baroque
church was constructed on the older medieval Romanesque basilica of the 12th century.
Strahov Monastery is one of the most popular religious destinations in
Prague as it contains the remains of Saint Norbert, the founder of the Premonstratensian Order.
North side of the abbey courtyards is taken by a large Gothic Church of Saint Roch
that was built in the early 17th century by
an Italian architect Giovanni Mario Filippi. Its construction was paid by Emperor Rudolf II in
gratitude for the miraculous sudden end to a devastating plague.
Strahov Monastery extensive complex is particularly notable for
its Theological Hall Library created by another Italian architect Giovanni Domenico Orsi in
the 18th century. The walls are covered by Baroque stucco and paintings of
an artist Frantisek Christian Nosetskiy that date back to the 18th century.
The ceiling painting "The History of Humanity" belongs to a painter
Frantisek Antonin Maulbertsha. Another gallery is located in the inner
courtyard of the Strahov Monastery. It contains a collection of Czech and
European art of the Gothic and Renaissance periods.
Charles Bridge across Vltava river made only for pedestrians.
Charles bridge replaced Judith bridge that was build in 1170, but collapsed
in 1342. Its reconstruction began in 1357, July (seventh month) 9, at 5
o'clock 31 minutes with the first stone laid by king Charles
VI himself. This date was specifically chosen as it represents a
mathematical pyramid with the number "9" on top and 22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.1 below.
It was believed that this set of numbers is especially favorable for any
undertaking including erection of the Charles Bridge. Its construction was
later continued under supervision of architect Peter Parler. Its 30 statues were
added later with inscriptions from the donors.
One of the statues has iron relief on its base. The material
that makes this work got darker except the center due to a belief that
once touched main wish will come true. Thousands of hands that touched
polished the iron plate. Another remarkable statue is that of
Crucifixion. It is the first statue on the bridge and stood here alone for
200 years since 1629. Hebrew letters are translated as "Holy, Holy, Holy
Lord". They were added as a punishment of a Jewish man who spoke crap about
Christianity. Obviously political correctness standards were different back
then. He had to pay for his blasphemy with golden letters that were added
Staré město (The old place)
Stare Mesto is Prague’s
old town. Its centre is Jan Hus square with a monument to a martyr. This
historic centre of the city is most famous for its gothic- style Tyn
Church, the mural- covered Storch House and famous Astronomical Clock (Orloj)
added to the Old Town Hall.
The last deserves attention on its own. Astronomical clock first
appeared in 1410. The mechanical clock was built by by clockmaker Mikuláš of Kadaň and astronomical dial
designed by Jan
Šindel, professor of mathematics and astronomy at Charles University. The clock was repaired many
times since then. A legend even exists that one of the clock masters
Hanus was blinded by the council of the city to prevent any other city
from copying the clock. It might be false, but it is certainly depicted
the pride citizens of Prague put in their scientific wonder. The bottom
part of the clock showing signs of the zodiac was added added in 1870.
Another interesting sight in
město is Estate Theatre. Mozart himself performed here. His opera
Don Giovanni was first played here.
Old Town Square is situated in the historical center of
Stare Mesto or Old Town of Prague.
It covers 15 thousand square meters with colorful facade of houses
constructed in Gothic, Rococo, Baroque and Renaissance architectural styles.
Old Town Square was first mentioned in the 12th century as an ordinary small
town market. It changed names repeatedly. Today it is simply known as the
Old Town Square.
Old Town Hall was constructed in Prague in
1338 after King John of Luxemburg ordered formation of a town
council. Over next several centuries Old Town Hall was expanded
with various buildings erected in Gothic and Renaissance
architectural style. The most prominent part of the structure is
the main tower that reaches a height of 69.5 meters (228 feet).
Municipal House is most significant building constructed in
Art Nouveau architectural style. It was erected in 1905- 11 as a
cultural centre under supervision of architect Antonin Balsanek with
help of Osvald Polivka.
Municipal House of Prague stands on a site of the
former Royal Court palace that served as an official residence for
the king between 1383 and 1485. After it was abandoned in the late
medieval times it was briefly converted into a seminary and later
transformed into a military college. Historic complex was demolished
in the early 20th century after decades of being abandoned.
Municipal House became a logic site for the historic
proclamation of the new independent state of Czechoslovakia on 28
October 1918 upon completion of World War I.
Church of Our Lady before Tyn is a
historic Christian church that dominates the complex around the Old
Town Square. Its multiple steeples stand out with unique appearance.
Its construction began in 1365 originally as a Roman Catholic
Church, but soon it became involved in a Reformist Hussite movement
in the early 15th century. The Hussite King George of Podebrady took
his Ultraquist community in Church of Our Lady before Tyn. The
Hussite movement was crashed in 1620 and in 1621 communion chalice
of the church was melted down and made into a statue of the Madonna.
Additionally Catholic armies removed letters of the slogan "Truth
prevails" that hanged above the entrance. Church of Our Lady before
Tyn is also famous as it is a final resting place of famous
astronomer Tycho Brahe.
Kinsky Palace is a former
aristocratic residence of Golz family that was designed by architect
Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer. This beautiful Rococo building is has a
white and pink facade crowned by several statues. In 1768 Kinsky
Palace was bought by Stepan Kinsky, an Imperial diplomat who also
gave his new residence its current name. Today Kinsky Palace is open
to the public. It occasionally holds art exhibits by the National
Gallery of the Czech Republic.
Carolinum is a national Czech
monument and the oldest university building in Europe that is used
for its original purpose to present day. Carolinum is the main
building of the Charles University that was bought by Charles IV in
1348 from Jan Rotlev, manager of the Mint House. Original Gothic
building was increased in the early 15th century after new Gothic
wings were added. After 1620 Carolinum along with the University
became the property of the Jesuits. Over next two centuries
Carolinum lost much of its original Gothic architecture and acquired
Baroque appearance. In 1945 the Carolinum underwent a new renovation
project under supervision of architect Fragner. Two lions at the
entrance of the main buildings were added about the same time
Estates Theatre of Prague is a historic
music hall that was constructed in 1783 by Count Nostitz.
It is one of the most beautiful Neo- Classical buildings
in Prague. It was the centre of the cultural life of the
city. The most famous concert was performed on 29
October 1787 when Mozart's Opera Don Giovanni had its
debut. Mozart himself conducted the concert. Another
important concert occurred in 1834 when musical
Fidlovacka was premièred. One of its songs "Where is my
Home?" became an official national anthem of the Czech
Powder Gate is a historical building on a
site of much older medieval city gate that dates back to
the 11th century. At the time it was one of 13 city
gates of Prague. In 1475 King Vladislav II laid
foundation stone to a new tower that became known simply
as a New Tower. Its current name Powder Gate acquired in
the 17th century as it served as a storage site for
powder. Current statues date back to 1876 as original
decorations were removed in 1757 during the Prussian
Jan Hus Monument is a
massive sculpture that dominates Old Town Square. It was
constructed in 1915 during WWI as a patriotic move to
commemorate death of Jan Hus, religious reformer and
Czech hero. He started Hussite reform in the Catholic
Church. The movement was crushed and Jan Hus was jailed.
He was pronounced a heretic by the Council of Constance
in 1415 and burned at the stake.
Jan Hus Monument was
designed by Ladislav Saloun on a site where Jan Hus was
burned alive. Sculpture consists of two groups. On is
that of Jan Hus himself with Hussite soldiers who
followed his cause. Another one is a group of
Protestants who were exiled from Bohemia 200 years after
his death. A young woman symbolizes national rebirth in
a face of adversaries past or present. Present
adversaries at the time of monument construction were
massive casualties at the Eastern Front of the World War
Present Church of
Saint Nicholas as constructed by architect Kilian Ignaz
Dientzenhofer in 1735 as part of a Benedictine Monastery
on a site of a destroyed Romanesque church of the 13th
century. Today Church of Saint Nicholas is the main
Hussite church of the Czech Republic.
Church of Saint
Nicholas was closed in 1781 by Emperor Joseph II as it
was deemed "socially useless" on behalf of the state.
The interior was stripped bare from splendid
decorations. During World War I Church of Saint Nicholas
was used by the soldiers of the Prague's garrison.
Restoration of the church began about the same time
under supervision of the local colonel.
The facade of the
building is decorated with statues of saints carved by
sculpture Antonin Braun. The striking feature of the
church interior is a magnificent crystal chandelier that
was donated by the Russian Emperor Nicholas II. Today
Church of Saint Nicholas is open to the public. It is
commonly used for concerts and other cultural venues.
Service: 6:45 am Mon- Fri, 5 pm Wed- Fri,
8 am Sat, 8:30am, 10:30am Sun
Church of Saint James
is a Roman Catholic Church that once was part of a
Minorite monastery, part of the Franciscan order. This
religious order was invited to Prague by King Wenceslas
I in 1232. However in 1689 original Gothic presbytery
was destroyed by fire that some claim was in fact an
arson ordered by King Louis XIV of France. It also
contains the tomb of Count Vratislav of Mitrovice (18th
century), one of the most beautiful Baroque tombs in
Prague. Local legends claim that count was buried alive.
His body is said to be found sitting during one of the
reconstruction projects. Another notable feature of
Church of Saint James is a mummified forearm that is
over 400 years old. It is believed that this arm
belonged to a thief who tried to steal jewels from the
altar. Sculpture of Madonna is said to have grabbed
thief's arm and didn't let him go until he was
discovered by church guards. They couldn't remove man's
arm so they had to chop it off. It is said that the hand
was hanged at the entrance of Church of Saint James ever
Josefov is a Historical Jewish ghetto of Prague
that was originally found around 9th- 10th centuries.
First Prague Jewish community came from two distinct backgrounds. One
group came from the Byzantine Mepire and settled around the Old Shul near
today's Spanish Synagogue. These were largely Greek speaking citizens.
Another group of Jews settled around the Old New Synagogue. These Prague
residents came from the Western European countries after these countries
imposed harsh laws against the Jews and sometimes simply expelled them.
During the middle Medieval period
Czech authorities along with other European countries began to impose
discriminating laws against Jewish community. Many of its members were
forcefully converted to Roman Catholicism. Prague government erected a wall
within a city around Josefov quarters. Jews couldn't settle outside these
walls and couldn't venture out after sun down. In the 16th century Jews were
forced to wear a yellow circle as a sign of his or her religious and ethnic
IV allowed Josefov Jewish Quarter to keep its own flag in 1357. The Golden Age of the
Jewish ghetto is considered to be the 17th century. With 15,000
residents (approximately 30% of the entire population) this was one of
the largest Jewish communities in the World. From 1597 to 1609 the
Maharal (Judah Loew ben Bezalel) served as Prague’s chief rabbi. He is
considered the greatest of Jewish scholars in Prague’s history as well
as an endless source of various legends. Some claimed that he created Golem,
monster made of clay that lived in the attic of the Old New Synagogue. His
tomb is a pilgrimage site on the Old Jewish Cemetery.
Emperor Rudolph II eased some of
the strict rules followed by another Emperor Joseph II (1741-90). In fact
the Jewish Quarter is named after him due to his Enlightened views. After
the revolution of 1848 Jews were given full civil rights including freedom
to move to other parts of Prague. In 1850 Josefov was officially incorporate
into the rest of the city. By the end of the 19th century most of Jews fled
their former ghetto. Only most poorest members (about 20%) of the Jewish
community stayed here and it quickly became the slum of Prague. Emperor
Franz Joseph ordered demolishing of old buildings replacing them with newer
better housing. Only few synagogues survived along with the Jewish cemetery.
At the outbreak of World War II the Nazis rounded up all
the Jews in Prague and sent them to concentration camps. Most of them
were subsequently murdered. Jewish buildings of Josefov were turned into
a "Museum of Exterminated Ethnic Group". Jewish religious and household
items were gathered thus ironically creating an ethnographic collection.
Spanish Synagogue (Prague)
Spanish Synagogue is the largest and most
decorated synagogue in Prague. It designed in a traditional
Spanish- Arab (Moorish) architectural style. Small
exhibition inside tells a story about Holocaust,
concentration camps and a final fate of 75,000 of innocent
people who perished during these tragic years.
Old New Synagogue
Small and less impressive the Old New Synagogue is
nevertheless the most interesting synagogue in Prague. It is
the oldest surviving synagogue in Czech Republic and in all
of Europe. The oldest part of the Old New Synagogue is a
13th century stone safe inside the lobby. The frontal wall
was added in the 15th century.
Additionally it is rumored to
be the home of the Golem. Mythical human- like monster created by the
rabbi Maharal (Judah Loew ben Bezalel aka rabbi Loew) to protect Josefov
from the anti- Semitic attacks.
alleged Golem's hiding place
Maisel Synagogue (Prague)
Maisel Synagogue was constructed in the late
16th century by the Jewish Mayor Mordechai Maisel. It was
reconstructed several times in the subsequent centuries.
Today it holds an extensive collection dedicate to the most
prominent figures of the Prague ghetto.
Jewish Town Hall (Prague)
Jewish Town Hall is the only building of its
kind that survived outside of Israel. Clock dial on the main
tower has "normal" arrows as well as "Jewish" arrows that
move in the opposite direction.
Pinkas Synagogue is a historic building in
the center of Josefov. It was constructed in 1479 by Rabbi
(teacher) Pinkas. During archeological digs, Pinkas
Synagogue revealed medieval ritualistic bath (mikva) that
was used by Jews for physical and spiritual purification.
Pinkas Synagogue was further increased in size by his great-
nephew Aaron Meshulam Horowitz. In the 17th century women's
wing was added.
Today Pinkas Synagogue is dedicated to former
residents of the Jewish Quarter of Prague. Its walls are
inscribed with names of more than 75,000 Czech Jews who died
in Nazi concentration camps. Its backdoor leads to the Old
Old Jewish Cemetery (Stary Zidovsky Hrbitov)
Location: Siroka 3
Tel. 2223 17 191 (bookings)
2217 11 511 (Jewish Museum)
Trolley: 17, 18 to Staromestska
Open: Apr- Oct: 9am- 6pm Sun- Fri
Nov- March: 9am- 4:30pm Sun- Fri
Last admissions are 30 minutes before closing
Closed: Jewish holidays
Official site: www.jewishmuseum.cz
Old Jewish Cemetery was founded in 1478
for traditional burial of Prague's Jewish.
Over 100,000 residents of Josefov were buried here with
12,000 tombstones marking burial site. Due to lack of available space and difficulty
with transporting bodies outside of the city many residents
were literally buried on top of the other. In fact some
places have 5 coffins stacked one on the other. Cemetery has
small paths. Please, don’t leave these designated trails.
Some of the
common signs on tombstones and their meanings
Nové město (The new place)
The new part
of town started its construction in 14th century and presents
more recent architecture. The centre of this part of town is Wenceslas
Square with a statue of a king himself on horseback. The square starts
at the National Museum and has many restaurants, shops, hotels, night
clubs and others sights. Visiting National Museum is quiet interesting,
but it is also time consuming. It is made of different sections and
themes. The main building is dedicated to natural history and other
parts are devoted to Czech composers, music, ethnography, archaeology and
others. Nové město also has Henry Tower and beautiful Jubilee
Synagogue (Jerusalem Synagogue) build from 1905 to 1906 by