The weather in Prague has been perfect for roaming, so each day I take a new walking excursion – either on my own or with one of the many guided tours available. Generally, I avoid organized tours because of the vast amount of info provided so quickly and the dizzying speed of the 3+ hour walks. I prefer doing research, walking at a leisurely pace, and stopping to linger at interesting cafés and galleries along the way.
The positive side of group tours is meeting new people and getting a local perspective. Most guides are young, and their narrative and comments are always interesting and educational. Often, they share the compelling experiences of parents and grandparents who participated in major historical events.
Out-of-The Way Parks and Gardens
Off the beaten path walks in Prague are the best! A few days ago, I explored a series of less-frequented parks and gardens, following a path high along the left-bank of the Vltava River. Except for a few sets of steep stairways, the five-mile walk wasn’t difficult. The views were incredible!
It began at Strossmayerovo Square in Holešovice, ascended to Letná Park, Hanavský Pavilion, and continued along the river to Prague Castle. I’ll revisit Petřín Hill and Kinský Garden another day, as I explored both several years ago. A few months into the trip, I’m beginning to get a little photo weary – but took a few decent shots. It was an overcast day.
The spectacular neo-Gothic Church of St. Anthony of Padua at Strossmayerovo Square is the central hub of Holešovice. Letná Park stretches from Holešovice to the Castle area. The park’s well-maintained landscaping and flowerbeds are lush and vivid green!
I passed the huge red Metronome which replaced a statue of Joseph Stalin that was dynamited and removed in 1962. “The seven-ton metronome installed in 1991 is a symbol of Prague’s new era.” Today, the area near the metronome is a favorite spot for skateboarders.
Hanavský Pavilion seemed a good place for a leisurely lunch. It’s a cast iron Dutch Baroque style structure with Art Nouveau detail and panoramic views of the city! The Pavilion was originally a “product showcase” for ironworks owned by Prince William Hanavský for the Prague Jubilee Exhibition.
Group Tour – Prague’s Old Town and New Town
The fast-paced group tour concentrated on Prague’s heavily-touristed Old and New Town areas and quickly covered major historical sites. There were about 25 people in the group and one young guide. I have walked this route before and resigned myself to the fact I could not remember all the details provided. We were moving fast so taking photos was challenging. Some of the sites visited included:
- Prague Astronomical Clock
- Josefov (Jewish Quarter)
- Municipal House
- Church of Our Lady before Týn
- Wenceslas Square
- Old Jewish Cemetery
- Old Town Square
- Prague National Theatre
- Prague National Gallery
- Prague Estates Theatre
- House of the Black Madonna
- Powder Tower
- St. Nicholas’ Church
During the tour, our guide reminded us about the volatile political history of the Czech people. Although I have a better understanding of what the Czechs endured now, it’s a vast subject requiring research to comprehend.
I purchased a ticket for a performance of the original Black Light Theatre on Thursday night. Jiří Srnec, “Czech playwright, set designer, composer, manager and founder of the world-famous Black Theater,” directs the production.
Since many performances begin in June, I couldn’t get a ticket for the renovated Prague Estates Theatre. The renowned theatre has a variety of performances from drama to opera. They’re performing Mozart’s Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro.