Ever since the fall of the Berlin wall, Prague has enjoyed a status as one of Europe’s must-see cities, and for good reason! Czechia’s capital is charming and vibrant, with a proud history and a distinct culture. If you’re debating where to head next, you can’t go wrong by choosing this wonderful city. In this article, we’ll take a look at the magic that Praha has to offer.
Prague’s roots go back to the 9th century, when it became the seat of the historic region of Bohemia. This rich status transformed the city into a powerful center of art, music, and culture, all of which is reflected in virtually every square inch of the city.
It’s impossible to walk through Prague’s streets without coming face to face with its rich history, from still-standing medieval buildings to the scars left by periods of turmoil. To be in Prague is to engage with the past, and to become a part of a story that spans centuries.
While it’s hard to miss the historic sights of Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge, the city truly comes to life when you spend time simply wandering through the old town. Between the gothic buildings, you’ll find a city that feels much the same as it did hundreds of years ago.
The sheer amount of history soaked into the city can almost be overwhelming, which is why a visit to any of the city’s fantastic museums is well worth the effort. There’s something for everyone, with entire museums dedicated to Mozart, Kafka, Communism, Fine Arts, the city’s Jewish Community, and almost everything in between. The National Gallery is particularly world-renowned.
For those of you interested in more recent history, Prague’s occupation during the Second World War left plenty of marks; you just have to know where to find them. Check out the bullet-scared windows of Saints Cyril and Methodius Cathedral, where the Czech and Slovak agents who took part in the stunning assassination of Reinhard Heydrich were finally cornered by the Gestapo.
As you first step foot into Prague, you’ll be struck by the abundance of unique medieval architecture. It’s no wonder that the entire historic city is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List: virtually every building is in remarkable shape despite being several hundred years old.
The reason Prague is brimming with older architecture is due to the fact that it largely escaped damage in the Second World War. Other European cities, like Berlin, London, and Warsaw had to be almost entirely rebuilt. In each, the majority of old buildings were simply replaced: the cost and effort of replicating the ornate designs on each was impossible in post-war Europe.
Prague, on the other hand, suffered no such fate. Nothing here is a reconstruction. The clock in the city center is the very same one that was installed there nearly six hundred years ago. This is why the city’s charm is so intertwined with its timeless quality. You can feel at once like you’ve been sent back in time, but with all of the comforts of a vibrant and modern European city.
In particular, stop and take a moment to explore some buildings that have withstood the test of time:
- St. Vitus Cathedral, located in the town square, is one of the best examples of gothic architecture in the world.
- Charles Bridge is world famous for its brooding statues over the Vltava river.
- The astronomical clock on the gothic Týn Church, built in 1410.
- The Powder Tower, located in the middle of the Convent of St. Agnes, which was founded in 1234.
This list could go on forever – suffice it to say that wandering through Prague is truly a feast for the eyes.
While on the surface, Prague’s streets haven’t changed, the city’s bustling nightlife has kept up with the modern world. There is no shortage of bars, clubs, and cafes to spend your time in! Don’t worry, you won’t be taking a break from experiencing the old city and its charms: often, the best way to find them is through its nightlife.
For example, stop in for a beer at U Dvou Koček (Two Cats), a bar/brewery which has been in uninterrupted operation since 1678. Or, grab a coffee at any of the city’s countless jazz clubs and take part in Prague’s thriving underground music scene. Finally, if you want to dance, world-class nightclubs are hidden in plain sight all throughout the city.
Staying is Easier than You Think!
You have to accept it now: there’s a big chance that leaving Prague is going to break your heart. You wouldn’t be the first one. However, if you’re in love with it, then why not consider staying? Plenty of people make the decision to take a few years to roam around Europe, and support themselves financially by working remote data entry jobs.
While it may seem crazy now, it’s truly not as difficult as you think. In general, Czechia is far more affordable than Western Europe, and there’s nothing stopping you from staying if you wish. Bear in mind that, without a visa, the easiest way to do so is to spend 3 months in Prague, 3 months outside, and then return!
Finally, one of the best parts about this incredible city is its neighbors. Although Czech people are incredibly friendly, I’m not talking about the people who will be living next to you! Prague is almost perfectly situated between some of Europe’s most exciting cities, and visiting them is far easier than you might think. Check out our article on ten reasons to visit Budapest or how to spend an exciting weekend in Berlin, or consider a two-day trip to Vienna or Munich! Krakow and Bratislava are also extremely close and worth a trip.