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From the majestic Prague Castle to the unique Žižkov Television Tower via the baroque Charles Bridge, Prague boasts a score of monuments and sights that are not be missed during a visit to the capital of the Czech Republic.
The riverbank of the Vltava River, which flows into Prague from southern Bohemia, offers some of the best views of the historic centre of Prague. You can take a stroll along its embankments lined with trendy bars, cafes and markets, or explore several of the islands located in the middle of the river. A river cruise will show you some of the city’s best-known landmarks, or you can rent a rowboat or a motorboat to explore the river on your own.
On a ridge near the Prague Castle complex, this Premonstratensian abbey was founded in the 12th century as one of the earliest such institutions in the country. Its library, with its magnificent Theological and Philosophical Halls, is a splendid example of baroque interior decoration. The monastery also features a popular restaurant with a brewery.
A prime example of Prague’s baroque architecture, the Church of St Nicolas is in the heart of the Lesser Quarter beneath the Prague Castle complex. The church often hosts concerts of classical music and the adjacent tower, which once served as a dwelling for fire watchers, now houses a little museum telling how the tower was used as an observation post for the communist-era secret police.
North of Prague’s Castle Hill, Stromovka Park was established as a royal hunting reserve. Today, it’s a great place to enjoy a walk among the lakes and woods, stopping for a cup of coffee, a glass of wine or a snack in one of several cafes. The park also features the Prague Planetarium, the Výstavistě exhibition ground and a funfair.
Just a short walk from Prague’s Old Town Square, the House of the Black Madonna is one of the finest examples of Czech Cubism. Designed by Josef Gočár in the early 20th century, the building houses the small Czech Museum of Cubism as well as the Grand Cafe Orient, which features all kinds of Cubist artefacts, from chandeliers to coffee cups and spoons. You can take a walking tour of Prague’s most interesting architecture, during which you’ll visit some of the best Cubist buildings in the city.
The Jewish community has for centuries been an important part of Prague life. You can explore the oldest functioning synagogue in Europe, the Old-New Synagogue, the attic of which supposedly hid the legendary Golem. Afterwards, you can walk around the Old Jewish Cemetery and visit the grave of one of Prague’s most famous writers, Franz Kafka. Take a tour and follow your knowledgeable local guide, who will teach you all about the history of Jews in Prague.
The largest square in the city bears the name of St Wenceslas, the Czech patron saint whose statue dominates the upper section of the square. Formerly known as the Horse Market, the square was the scene of many public gatherings and protests at some of the most important moments in Czech history, from the foundation of Czechoslovakia in 1918 to the Velvet Revolution some 70 years later.
The Dancing House (Tančící dům), officially the Nationale-Nederlanden building, was built between 1992 and 1996 as a collaboration between Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunić and Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. The building gets its name from its hallmark curves, which create the semblance of two dancing figures – hence the nickname ‘Fred and Ginger’ after Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers. If you don’t want to stay in the hotel that covers several floors of the building, you can still visit the top-floor restaurant with stellar views over the Vltava River.
The Clementinum, one of the most extensive collections of historic buildings in Europe, originally formed part of a Jesuit college. Following the expulsion of the Jesuits, the buildings and book collection housed here became the property of the state and it was named the National Library in 1781. Frequently dubbed the most beautiful library in the world, the Clementinum is an exceptional example of baroque architecture. You can pay a visit to the library hall, Mirror Chapel and Astronomical Tower, where you will be greeted with splendid views over Prague. Guided tours are available in English.
Home to one of Prague’s largest and most notable concert venues, Smetana Hall, the Municipal House (Obecní dům) is regarded as one of the best examples of art nouveau architecture in the Czech capital. Built between 1905 and 1911 and opened in 1912, the Municipal House is home to a cafe, restaurants and luxury boutiques, and guided tours allow access to areas otherwise inaccessible to visitors.
During World War II, the Orthodox church of Saints Cyril and Methodius served as the last hiding place for the Czech and Slovak soldiers who assassinated Reinhard Heydrich, a top-ranking Nazi in charge of the occupied Czech lands, in one of the most daring resistance operations of the war. The crypt now houses a memorial to the soldiers who were killed in combat or committed suicide after Nazi troops besieged the church. You can also visit the site of the assassination, which is now a modern road.