I arrived in Prague yesterday afternoon and it really has a comfortable feeling – hard to describe in words. After walking around the neighborhood I had dinner at a restaurant near Wenceslas Square in New Town. Entertainment and dining in Prague won’t be a problem – there is so much activity. The waiter even gave me some sight-seeing pointers and there was an English menu! After a few weeks in Czech towns and villages it’s great to be back in a city, especially Prague!
Considered the heart of the Czech Republic, Prague’s population is almost 1.5 million. The Vltava River wraps around the city and it’s divided into several quarters and districts. My apartment is on the cusp of Stare Mesto (Old Town) and Nove Mesto (New Town) in District 1. It’s a busy, exciting area and a good location for sightseeing and exploring.
Parts of Prague are only accessible by foot and the public transportation is fantastic, so getting around will be easy and inexpensive. The only concern is the extremely hot summer weather. August in Prague often sees temperatures in the high 90s.
The Hradcany and Castle Quarter in District 1 is on a hill overlooking Prague. It includes the Prague Castle complex with the Old Royal Palace, St. Vitus Cathedral, and the Strahov Monastery. All of these landmarks are beautiful structures with significant architectural and historical value.
The Mala Strana Quarter in District 1 is below Hradcany and across the river from Charles Bridge. It’s also known as Lesser Town and is home to palaces, gardens, and Baroque churches. There are many foreign embassies in this quarter occupying elegant buildings built by the Catholic nobility.
The Church of St. Nicholas in Mala Strana is the most famous Baroque church in Prague. It was built in the 1700s and hosts regular concerts and recitals.
Josefov in District 1 is Prague’s Jewish Quarter and dates back to the 13th century. Places of interest include the Jewish Cemetery with its five synagogues, the Jewish State Museum, and the Jewish Ceremonial Hall with its Hebrew clock dating from the 15th century. The interesting Kafka Museum is on the border of Josefov and Stare Mesto Quarters.
Stare Mesto is Prague’s Old Town Quarter in District 1. Old Town’s many attractions include Old Town Square with the Jan Hus Monument, Old Town Clock Tower, and the beautiful Church of Our Lady Before Tyn. The area has many courtyards, churches, cafés, and restaurants.
Nove Mesto, Prague’s New Town, is the main commercial and business quarter in District 1. It’s based around Wenceslas Square with the National Museum and two main commercial streets – Na Prikope and Narodni. Like Stare Mesto there are courtyards and cafés everywhere.
Another interesting but non-traditional building in Nove Mesto is the “Dancing House” designed by Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunić. Its avant-garde appearance stands out among the contrasting Baroque, Gothic, and Art Nouveau buildings in the area.
The North and Western Suburbs in District 2 consist of parks and residential buildings with a variety of architectural styles. Prague’s largest park, Stromovka, is in this quarter. The park was originally a hunting ground.
Other attractions include the Vystaviste Exhibition Grounds, the Prumyslovy Palace, the Planetarium, and the Royal Summer Palace which now houses the Czech National Museum. The Vinohrady area in Prague’s District 2 is one of the main “chic” residential areas in the city. Many expats who moved to Prague live there. Vinohrady contains Prague’s most modern church, the Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord.
Vysehrad and the Eastern Suburbs are in District 3 on the ancient rocky fortress of Vysehrad, the Czech Republic’s most-revered landmark. This suburban quarter is home to the Vysehrad Cemetery and the Gothic Church of St. Peter and Paul. From Vysehrad you can enjoy panoramic views of Prague and ancient Zizkov Hill!
I will be in Prague until the end of the month and happy to be here learning about this extraordinary city. More later…