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The International Writers Magazine: Europe Weekends

Culture in Prague
• Davina Spriggs
The magical city of Prague in the Czech Republic, with its fine gothic architecture, is a quick 2 hour plane journey from London. This is not my first visit to the city, yet as soon as I arrive I feel as though I have been transported to a different world. The ‘City of a thousand spires’, as it is fondly known, gives me the impression of walking into a children’s fairy-tale.

The beautiful city of Prague is the largest city to be found in the Czech Republic. The renowned Vltava River runs through the centre and is crossed by 18 bridges, including the very famous Charles Bridge. The Lesser Town (Mala Strana), a pretty Baroque quarter and one of the most historic regions, borders the river on one side, the Old Town and New Town can be found on the other.
Bishops House As a city rich in history, it makes for a very popular tourist destination; the city boasts a whole host of museums, galleries and theatres, plus numerous other cultural exhibits and attractions.

The charming Bishop’s House Hotel in the Lesser Town, where I am staying, is in a perfect location to explore the city easily on foot. Situated in a quiet cobbled street, it is a stone’s throw from the river and the Charles Bridge.
On the Lesser Town side of the river, up on the hill looking over the city, is the impressive Prague Castle. Take time to walk up through the steep yet charming old streets, the views are worth it! From here, a casual walk across from the castle took me to the wonderful Petrin View Tower. Standing at 63.5 metres high, a climb up the 299 steps left me out of breath, yet gave me amazing and uninterrupted views across the city and its ochre-coloured rooftops. (There is also a funicular railway up.)

Also within the Lesser Town is the well-known Lennon Wall. After John Lennon’s murder in December 1980, people have filled this once-normal wall with John Lennon-inspired graffiti and lyrics from the Beatles songs. During the communism, Lennon was hailed as a pacifist hero and the wall became a political spotlight for the youth of Prague. It is close to the French Embassy and is certainly worth a visit.
rail prague
A visit to Prague would not be the same without walking across the famous Charles Bridge at least a few times! Connecting the Lesser Town to the Old Town, the impressive structure lined with intricate statues, is a perfect place to experience the sights and sounds of the city. Many artists line the bridge selling their work during the day. If like me you prefer to avoid the crowds, I recommend visiting early morning.
Charles Bridge
Old TOwn On the opposite side of the river, is the enchanting Old Town Square and it’s fairy-tale like buildings. St. Vitus cathedral dominates the Old Town Square, with its sky high spires and imposing gothic façade; it is a building to be marvelled at. The charismatic Old Town Square is abundant with restaurants; it is the ideal place to dine al-fresco and sample the local Czech cuisine. My favourite dish, Guláš, is a stew usually made from beef and often served with dumplings; it goes perfectly with a traditional Czech beer!
Jewish Quarter A visit to the Old Town Square would not be complete without seeing the medieval astronomical clock in action. Join the crowds in the square, on the hour of every hour, to observe the quirky mechanical performance of the grand clock!

Be sure to take a stroll over towards the Jewish quarter to observe the old Jewish cemetery. Dating from the early 15th century, it is certainly one of the most haunting yet extraordinary historic sites in Prague.
Keep walking a little outside of the Square through the narrow cobbled streets and you will come to the Powder Gate, this gothic tower dates as far back as the 11th century and it is the original location of the city gates. If you prefer a bit of modern architecture, have a wander over towards the New Town, standing amongst the gothic, baroque and art nouveau buildings you will find the controversial ‘dancing house’, nick-named after famous dancers: Fred and Ginger.
Rooftops Prague

Prague is a beautiful, vibrant city with lots to offer; small enough to explore easily on foot, yet rich in a lavish range of architectural diversity. There is something here for everybody. It is one of those cities that I could happily visit time and time again; there is an endless stream of cultural history to uncover.

© Davina Spriggs, September 2013
Why not visit Prague yourself? Book a stay at the delightful Bishop's House Hotel

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