Prague does not have a single city center. Contemporary Prague revolves around Wenceslas Square and historic Prague around Old Town Square. But for the best views over all of it, discover Royal Prague in the Castle District. And what a way to get there, via the Charles Bridge!
Hradcany, the Castle District, is one of the oldest zones in the city, easily accessed from our Prague Untour apartments and a favorite among our guests to Prague.
Prague Castle is probably the city’s oldest and best-known landmark. The gate to the First Courtyard is guarded by ceremonial castle guards outfitted in colorful uniforms (designed after the “Velvet Revolution” by a theater colleague of then-president Vaclav Havel). The Changing of the Guard at noon is a ceremony worth seeing. If a flag is flying atop the right side of this building, the president is in Prague.
The Second Courtyard contains the Holy Cross Chapel. The Third Courtyard is dominated by the St. Vitus Cathedral, a breathtaking construction which took nearly 600 years to complete. Begun by Charles IV in 1344, St. Vitus was not finished until 1929. Don’t miss the stained glass windows, some of the most captivating in all of Europe.
The museum of the Mihulka Powder Tower is also worth a look. If you have ever wondered
what alchemists actually did, you will enjoy looking at the instruments of medieval metallurgy in
this little museum. The Golden Lane is rumored to have also been a center of alchemic research. Whatever the truth of these stories, this narrow alley with its tiny houses is now a very picturesque section of the Castle District. Czech writer Franz Kafka discovered an appropriate backdrop for writing here, dwelling in house No. 22 in 1917.
The National Gallery of European Art is located just outside the front gate of the castle. The gallery is divided into three parts: a collection of old European art, a collection of old Bohemian art, and a collection of French art featuring great Impressionists, as well as Picasso and Braque.
And since we mentioned it, the Charles Bridge will be a highlight of your walk to and from the Castle. Lined mainly with Baroque statues, this magnificent 14th century bridge is Prague’s oldest crossing of the Vltava River. Closed to automobile traffic, the bridge is a wonderful place to stroll during the day. The Tower on the Mala Strana side is open to the public and offers an excellent view.
We hope to see you in Prague soon on an Untour. Prague combines well with our Untours in Prague and Budapest to give you a one regal view of these old world cultural capitals.