Prague: A City Guide for Romanticists

Explore an ancient city with a contemporary artist’s spirit and bohemian soul.
Prague city guide

It has been said that Prague, in the Czech Republic, may be an even more romantic city than Paris. That claim may be up for subjective debate, but Prague definitely has the power to turn any traveler or visitor into a romanticist. The ancient, medieval history of Prague and its historic struggle for independence and identity is apparent in the architecture, infrastructure, art and cuisine of the city. The onward progression of modernity is met in balance with the city’s Old Town, with its castles, gothic statues and cobblestone streets harkening to an ancient past that refuses to be forgotten or forsaken. The city is an incubator of artistic expression and exhibition, which retains its natural soul, even as it aesthetically, and regularly, remakes itself.

The word, “bohemian,” comes from this country, when it was once called the Kingdom of Bohemia and a bohemian used to refer to a Czech person before the advent of the 20th century. In 2016, the Czech Republic officially renamed itself, “Czechia,” for international use, to stay current and yet still true to its roots. It is an ancient city with a contemporary artist’s spirit and soul.

 

Take a Stroll Across The Charles Bridge

Prague city guide

The Charles Bridge, which spans the Vltava river in Prague, is a gothic and surreal sight to behold at sunrise or dusk when the tourist crush subsides. The scenic environs and gothic mood of the Charles bridge will make you will feel —for several moments, at least— as though you have been transported back in time a few hundred years.

Construction of the bridge was commissioned by King Charles IV in 1357 and was finished sometime in the 1400s. Dozens of Gothically eerie and themed statues and sculptures adorned the bridge and it is bookmarked on either side by bridge towers. The bridge offers spectacular views of the city banks and of cruise ships and boats traversing the Vltava river. Animated and memorable street performers and souvenir vendors are a regular site on the bridge during the daytime as well.

 

Marvel at The Dancing House

prague city guide

The Dancing House, a surreal edifice that triumphantly exemplifies the notion of experimental architecture, is an office building and upscale hotel that was erected in 1996. The building was designed to convey motion in inanimate structures and was modeled after the dance stylings of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The building encompasses two towers. The tower with the concrete and steel exterior is, “Fred,” while the tower with the glass and steel exterior is, “Ginger.” The project was designed and built by Croat-Czech architect Vlado Milunic and Canadian architect Frank Gehry. The Dancing House is near the banks of the Vltava river and is quite a sight to see on a passing cruise ship. The building is also near the former residence of former Czech president Vaclav Havel.

 

Check Out The Prague Astronomical Clock

Prague city guide

The Prague Astronomical Clock, one of the oldest functioning clocks in existence, is located in Old Town, in the Old Town Square. Wooden figures representing the apostles appear from within the contraption to document the passing of each hour. The calendar dial on the clock represents each day of the year. The astronomical portion of the dial portrays the medieval understanding of the universe during that era of history. The clock was constructed in the early 15th century. There are only a handful of ancient analog clocks of its kind on Earth that still work, making this beauty a sight to see.

 

Experience Havel’s Market

Prague City Guide

Prague is a city with the soul and attitude of an artist. Around every corner, you are bound to find something entertaining to do associated with art, entertainment, artisanal talent or cuisine. There is no end to the kinds of quaint, sidewalk dining cafes you can patronize. At the famed Havel’s Market, which is a tourist haven, you will find souvenirs, artisanal woodcraft and hand-carved wooden items, delicate ceramics and all kinds of chocolates. You are also bound to run into more than one colorful street performer or magician’s act on the streets of Prague. You should be on the lookout since walking around is the best way to take in the scenery of the city.

 

Visit The “K on Sun” Art Installation

prague city guide

“K on Sun,” is an experimental art installation that can be found in the Quadrio Shopping Center in Prague. It is a 40-tonne, mirrored stainless steel bust created by artist David Cerny, that is made in the likeness of famed Czech author Franz Kafka. The gigantic bust is made of 42 layers of shiny, mirrored steel plates that move independently of each other. When they move and slide around in place, they distort and scramble the overall image. They then slide into their correct places to align in such a way to create an artistic semblance of Kafka. The art installation is an homage to one of the writer’s most well-known literary works, “The Metamorphosis.”

 

Treat Yourself to a Taste of Trdelnik

prague city guide

Trdelnik or, “trdlo,” is a kind of sugar and cinnamon encrusted pastry treat that is ubiquitous in Prague. If you walk around the city, you will pass numerous street vendors baking and selling the treat in baking carts. To make traditional trdlo, a long line of dough is wound around a dowel or cooking cylinder and then baked over hot coals or firewood. While baking, and when done, the dough is generously sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. When it is ready, it is then rolled onto a pile of cinnamon, sugar and sometimes chopped nuts. It is best eaten when warm. Beware though, chances are you will not be able to eat just one.

 

Enjoy A Pint in Prague

prague city guide

The Czechs invented pilsner beer and may have even invented beer, in general. Beer has been brewed here since 998 A.D., though some historians say that beer was brewed here much, much longer before that. The Czechs have actually been brewing a kind of beer called, “Budweiser,” since the late 18th century. An American beer company acquired the international rights to the name in the 20th century before the Czechs could. Beer is actually cheaper than bottled water in the Czech Republic, or rather, Czechia. The bottled water you buy here will be more expensive than the beer. More people drink beer here than anywhere else in the world. Some Czech transportation tram cars even have a beer car! The point is, if you find yourself in Prague, have a brew or two. You won’t regret it.

 

Czechia, the Czech Republic, Czechoslovakia and the Kingdom of Bohemia. The country has renamed and rebranded itself numerous times throughout its history. However, the artistic, patriotic and individualistic spirit of the land and its people have always remained the same. Make plans to visit Prague soon. It may make a romanticist out of you.

 

Author’s Favorite Travel Gear

 

                                

Vis-A-Vis Clear TrunkThis clear, polycarbonate luggage trunk is very durable and tough. Its crystal clear see-through casing will do half of the work of airport customs and security agents as you head for your flight. This product also has storage zone compartments with strapping guards designed to keep your items separated.

Thermos Stainless Steel, Vacuum Insulated Drink Bottle with built-in Tea Infuser: This state of the art thermos mug features the latest in vacuum technology that allows you to keep hot liquids hot for 12-hours and cold liquids cold for 24-hours. It also features a lockable, leak-proof lid with tea-brewing tea infuser attachment.

Cowin E-7 Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones: These headphones feature enhanced noise reduction technology that is available at the flip of a switch. They are lightweight with 90 degrees of swiveling earpad movement for increased listening comfort. A built-mic enables voice-controlled volume adjustment.

 

Allen Francis

A.A. Francis, a former college educator and librarian, is a well-traveled freelance travel writer, author and aspiring novelist from New York City. He is an alumnus of Marymount Manhattan College in New York City.

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